Still uncertain about the relevance of the link or alignment between the business and information technology sides of the house? Consider this: 67% of customers in a recent survey say the way a company uses technology indicates how
it operates in general. And 75% expect companies to use technologies to create better experiences. And they know — almost instinctively — when technology isn’t put together too well within the company with which they are dealing. The customer experience, with AI added Put quality, quantity and features aside for a moment. What customers want these days is a superior experience. And they’re willing to pay a premium for differentiated, first-to-market products and services that enhance their experiences.
Plus, they can tell — almost through a sixth sense — that a company has had issues implementing technology. That’s the word from a recent survey of 8,022 executives, conducted by Salesforce, which delved into what the survey’s authors call the coming of the “connected customer.” As much or more than anything — more than choice, more than great new features — customers want information. This includes both consumer and business customers.
Here are the top five things customers want:
Better access to information (e.g., product information, reviews) 91%
Increased product choice 91%
New types/categories of products 86%
Increased awareness of corporate values, ethics, and business practices 77%
Emerging technologies 58%
Most customers won’t wait for someone to give them information they can find themselves, the survey shows. Sixty-eight percent would rather use self-service channels – like knowledge bases or customer portals – for simple questions or issues.
In addition, customers can tell right away if a company’s technology isn’t well integrated. “The average enterprise uses 900 different applications, 29% of which are integrated,” the Salesforce report states. “Customers feel the effects, with nearly three-fifths reporting experiences that generally reflect separate departments rather than unified companies.”
The survey data bears out this conclusion: 78% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments; however, 59% “it generally feels like they’re communicating with separate departments, not one company.” In addition, 72% expect, quite reasonably, that all company representatives will have the same information about them. However, 66% say they often “have to repeat or re-explain information to different representatives.”
Customers are quite excited about the prospect of artificial intelligence being employed to boost their experiences, the survey also shows. Close to two-thirds, 62%, are open to the use of AI to improve their experiences — up from 59% in 2018. In addition, 59% believe AI will revolutionize the way they interact with companies. A majority, 54%, even say they trust companies to use AI in a way that benefits them.
However, business customers have a greater understanding and trust in AI. “AI is well appreciated among business buyers. Only one-third of consumers, on the other hand, can name an example of AI they encounter every day.” But AI runs behind the scenes — whether they are buying from Amazon, or using Waze on the highway. Still, the survey report’s authors add, “companies have work to do in articulating AI’s role, particularly to consumers. Fewer than half of consumers trust companies to use AI in a beneficial manner, and just shy of one-third think companies are transparent enough on the matter.”
Finally, security matters as well. Lax security hurts trust and sales, as 46% of customers feel they’ve lost control over their own data. “Distrust has become so prevalent that a significant number of customers now view companies as indifferent to the matter. Security has always been important, and customers treat it as a standard requirement for doing business. Eighty-four percent of customers are more loyal to companies that have strong security controls.”