Not long ago Salesforce released its State of the Connected Customer report. The fifth edition of this report summarized the findings of a survey of nearly 17,000 consumers and business buyers on the new customer engagement landscape.
What I love, no make that LOVE about this entire report is the fact that Salesforce surveyed consumers and B2B buyers — which are one and the same in this context. This report was not a survey of what marketers think consumers and buyers want. No one cares — at least they shouldn’t — what marketers think someone else wants.
Going to the horse’s mouth ring a bell? Yeah, I thought it would.
Before I get to the aforementioned CX stat, I want to share some of the other findings from the report.
A Trust-Based Economy Moves to the Forefront
That’s the subhead, verbatim, of one of the sections in the report which showcase just how important the T word is to, well pretty much all of us.
Some findings that speak to this:
- 88% of customers believe trust becomes more important in times of change.
- 76% of B2B buyers and 64% of consumers trust most companies to meet their needs and expectations, respectively.
- 74% of customers say communicating honestly and transparently is more important now than before the pandemic.
- 68% of customers trust organizations to tell the truth.
- 52% of customers say they generally trust companies — up from 48% in 2020.
While these numbers are encouraging, when it comes to things such as AI and Data Privacy, there is much uncertainty among customers.
- Only 57% of customers trust companies to use AI ethically, while…
- 72% are concerned about the unethical use of AI.
- 84% of customers say AI can be a force for good or bad, depending on how it’s used.
As for Data & Privacy, as the report aptly states, “without personal data, AI has no fuel for customizing experiences.”
- On one hand, 61% of consumers are comfortable with companies using relevant personal information in a transparent and beneficial manner — up from 52% in 2020.
- And on the other hand… 74% of consumers say companies collect more personal information than they need while…
- Another 64% say most companies aren’t transparent about how they use personal information
Let me sum this all up before moving on to the headline act.
- Nearly 9 in 10 consumers say the more things change the more important trust is. Well this just in, the only constant in life is change. In other words, Trust is EVERYTHING and always will be.
- Once you gain a consumer’s or buyer’s trust, you better do everything in your power to never lose it.
- That means honest and open communication at ALL times. Don’t you ever let a consumer or buyer find something out that you did not share with them first.
- As I have said ad nauseam, consumers are not stupid. They know we need their data to personalize their experiences. I swear it boggles my mind how insulting so many marketers are to consumers. But that’s another story for another time. The point is consumers understand more than you give them credit for. They know AI is a thing; they have heard of it at the very least. They also know, however, that it can be used unethically; for the wrong reasons. Just apply the Spike Lee Rule and Do the Right Thing. Yeah, it’s that easy.
- While it’s great to see the overall trust meeter go from 48% to 52% in two years, the fact is nearly half of consumers and buyers DON’T trust companies. Um, that’s a lot, kids. As in way too many.
Drum Roll, Please
If there is one topic I have written the most about in my career, it is undoubtedly, customer experience. In fact, if you Google “steve olenski customer experience” you get back over 50,000 results. Not saying I penned all 50,000+ results — although that would explain my carpal tunnel — but it gives you an idea of just how obsessed I am with this topic.
I am a massive believer that the experience one receives from a given company can in fact be more important than the product or service said company offers or provides. Perhaps not MORE important but pretty damn close.
Seems I may be on to something:
88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services.
Culled from the Salesforce report, that number reflects an increase of 10% over the past two years as to the importance of customer experience. And you as sure as my name is The CMO Whisperer, that number will only increase.
I am never one for hyperbole but this…is… HUGE!
If any company is still not sold on the direct impact the right customer experience can have on the bottom line, I can’t help you. Not when nearly 9 in 10 are telling you this is the case.
Caveat CX Emptor
Ok, before I close this post, I must, MUST share a caveat emptor, a caveat CX emptor that is.
Do you remember when social media came into vogue and not only was there a mad land rush to “get the right handles” for your business, there very quickly became the belief that social media would cure all your ails?
Of course you do.
Headlines such as HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO INCREASE YOUR PROFITS were extremely common. Come to think of it, headlines like this are STILL common.
Well, just as social media alone would not cure your ails then, neither will a great CX by itself do the same, now.
What’s my point?
My point is you OF COURSE have to provide a great product or service to start with – that MUST be your foundation. No matter how great your CX is it will not matter if your product or service sucks. Sorry to be so blunt but this is tough love boys and girls.
Now, assuming you do have a great product or service, then yes a superior CX will absolutely increase your bottom line.
Ok, got all this?
Let me know. I got you.
Final words go to one of my mentors and close friends, Bruce Hershey, former CMO of Tailored Brands.
“In order to truly develop a CX strategy, you must understand that it will take on many iterations because the consumer is always evolving. So get ready for an action-packed ride. Now the key to ensuring this strategy will not die on the vine like other strategies is to ensure the entire organization from top to bottom is 1000% CONSUMER OBSESSED. When you are obsessed about who funds your organization’s success and positive EBITA, you will do what it takes to build TRUST with your customers.”