Customer experience is now decidedly digital-first. Customers are empowered by choice and increasingly in control over their personal data, which means trust is their beacon. These are findings based on the fifth edition of the State of the Connected Customer report 2022, a Salesforce survey of 13,020 consumers and 3,916 business buyers worldwide.
Here's the executive summary of the report with four key takeaways:
A Trust-Based Economy Moves to the Forefront: As customers navigate a rapidly changing world, questions of trust, values, and integrity are coming to the fore. 88% of customers believe trust becomes more important in times of change.
Digital Acceleration Sparks Demand for Personalization at Scale: Digital channels continue to dominate customer engagement, but as public health restrictions ease, it will be important for organizations to bridge new ways of engagement with tried-and-true ones. 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.
New Realities Test Brand Loyalties: As consumers' priorities and behaviors shift, established brand loyalties are undergoing tests of strength. 71% of consumers have switched brands at least once in the last year.
Digital-First Experiences Expand to Meet the Moment: While open questions remain, the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the customer experience are coming into sharper focus, with impacts across the full customer lifecycle. 68% of customers have purchased products in new ways over the past two years.
Here are 10 powerful statistics from the State of Connected Customer Report 2022:
88% of customers believe trust becomes more important in times of change. Here are the top 5 actions to build trust: 1. Communicate honestly and transparently, 2. Use customer information responsibly, 3. Treat me as a person, not a number, 4. Resolve issues proactively, 5. Communicate proactively.
74% of customers say communicating honestly and transparently is more important now than before the pandemic. 62% of customers feel an emotional connection to the brands they buy from most.
52% of customers say they generally trust companies -- up from 48% in 2020. In addition, 88% of customers expect companies to clearly state their values, but only 50% of customers say they do.
66% of customers have stopped buying from a company whose values didn't align with theirs -- up from 62% in 2020. The top reasons customers say influence their decision to buy from a competitor are 1. Treatment of customers, 2. Treatment of employees, 3. Environmental practices, 4. Actions on economic injustices, 5. Actions on racial injustices, and 5. Community involvement.
88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services -- up from 80% in 2020. To improve the customer experience, start with the employee experience. Research shows that improving the employee experience leads to better customer experience and revenue growth. In fact, companies are leaving money on the table. Breaking silos between employee experience and customer experience can lead to a massive opportunity for revenue growth of up to 50% or more.
61% of consumers are comfortable with companies using relevant personal information in a transparent and beneficial manner -- up from 52% in 2020. The report notes that 58% of Gen Zers prefer to purchase online, compared to only 38% of baby boomers.
71% of consumers switched brands at least once in the past year. While better deals and product quality are the primary drivers of brand defection, myriad additional factors such as improved customer service, product availability, and convenience lure consumers away. 56% of consumers say they're more likely to buy from a brand with a loyalty program.
83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company. The number of customers who prefer to engage on organizations' dedicated mobile apps is now almost equal to those who want to be met on messenger apps they use in their personal lives, like WeChat and Google Hangouts. Engagement is as omnichannel as ever, with customers turning to an average of nine different channels to communicate with companies.
68% of customers have purchased products in a new way in the past two years. The uptake of the new services has been strikingly fast. For example, between 2020 and 2022, the share of customers to use curbside pickup nearly doubled, from 31% to 60%. More importantly, 61% of customers who shop via social media expect to do it more in three years.
Only 13% of customers say it takes little effort to get cases resolved. In fact, 83% of customers expect to solve complex problems by speaking to one person, but 53% say most support interactions are fragmented. And 75% of business buyers say sales conversations are more asynchronous than they used to be.
The report concludes with a reminder of the importance of excellent customer service and support experiences with the following findings: 96% of customers say excellent customer service builds trust. In fact, 83% of customers say they're more loyal to companies that provide consistency across departments.
To learn more about the State of Connected Customer Report 2022, you can visit here.