Salesforce today launched research which suggests the customer migration driven by the COVID-19 crisis might be here to stay for many businesses across Australia and New Zealand.
The State of the Connected Customer report found that more than half (52 per cent) of all interactions between local customers and businesses this year were digital, compared to just 36 per cent last year. Customers expect next year that 50 per cent of interactions next year will continue to be online.
Salesforce Australia area vice president Sales Jo Gaines said: “Right now businesses across Australia and New Zealand are navigating a landscape they couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of this year – the way they now build relationships with customers has fundamentally changed.
“Australia and New Zealand have seen massive shift to digital channels during the past few months, channels that are going to be increasingly favoured by local customers. The question is now whether they can both deliver products, services and support through those channels, as well as the changing expectations that come with them. Connecting customers at various touchpoints — digital, human, or other — to gain a holistic understanding is the first step on the path to resiliency and growth.”
The report also revealed that whilst a string of crises has affected all facets of life, including a fundamental shift in how customers connect with brands, factors like empathy, personalisation, convenience, and digital transformation are the keys to customer relationships.
As these same customers re-evaluate the role of business in society, the notion of stakeholder capitalism is increasingly factored into purchase decisions. The global report captures insights from over 15,000 consumers and business buyers across 27 countries, including 650 respondents from Australia and New Zealand, to help companies transform how they drive customer success. The research examines survey results across four generations of customers: baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials, and Gen Zers.
The key trends revealed in this year’s State of the Connected Customer shows:
- Customer Connections Are Essential Amid Crises: The events of this year have upended the relationships between customers and brands. During a time when uncertainty and confusion reign, brands have an opportunity to reinforce and rebuild trust with new and loyal customers alike. In Australia and New Zealand, 90 per cent of customers say how a company acts during a crisis demonstrates its trustworthiness.
- Understanding and Convenience Drive Differentiation: As each individual navigates change and uncertainty, empathy for and support of customers’ unique needs, expectations, and challenges are as critical, as is providing a convenient, connected experience that eliminates unnecessary burdens in a stressful time. Fifty-two per cent of Australian and New Zealander customers say it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information.
- The Digital Imperative Hits Its Moment of Truth: Digital-first behaviour is here to stay as customers develop new habits that will last for the long term. As digital engagement grows, customers expect companies to digitise their operations for multichannel, high-touch interactions. This relies in no small part on the use of personal information, and customers are calling for enhanced transparency and stewardship. In Australia and New Zealand, 67 per cent of customers say that COVID-19 has elevated their expectation of digital capabilities.
- Customers Demand That Brands Demonstrate Their Values: Long-overdue reckonings with social, economic, and ecological ills have come to the fore, and society is calling on businesses to do their part in righting wrongs. A failure to heed responsibilities to more than shareholders threatens bottom lines. Eighty-seven percent of Australian and New Zealander customers say the societal role of companies is changing.
“The State of the Connected Customer has found customers navigate products, services, and experiences from a variety of industries throughout their day-to-day lives, criss-crossing between the personal and professional, digital and physical, essential and supplementary. As they do this, their standards are being constantly influenced, with distinctions between sectors often blurred in their minds,” Gaines said.
“Companies seeking to differentiate themselves are wise to look beyond their immediate competition and evaluate how their capabilities stack up against other industries. Globally, 62 per cent of consumers say their experiences with one industry influence their expectations of others.”
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