Improving the connected customer experience with trusted generative AI

Improving the connected customer experience with trusted generative AI

The State of the Connected Customer: Trust, Expectations, and the Role of AI

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In today’s evolving world, where technology is advancing at a rapid pace, customers are becoming increasingly cautious about the risks associated with new technologies like generative AI. The sixth edition of Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, based on a survey of 11,000 consumers and 3,300 business buyers worldwide, sheds light on the changing dynamics between customers and brands.

According to the report, rising costs and shifting priorities have led customers to rethink their relationships with brands, while companies face mounting pressure to increase efficiency. In this article, we will explore the key findings from the report and delve into important statistics and trends.

Changing Customer Expectations

The report highlights the changing priorities, behaviors, and expectations of customers due to economic and technological shifts. As technology advances, 81% of customers now expect faster service from brands. This places the pressure on businesses to step up their game and deliver satisfying experiences.

The Evolution of Customer Engagement

Customers have revealed the recipe for earning their loyalty: consistency, efficiency, and a human touch. In fact, 79% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. Brands need to ensure that their engagement strategies adapt to these evolving customer expectations.

The Trust Gap and Mainstream AI

As brands turn to generative AI to boost efficiency and enhance customer engagement, there is a widening trust gap. Customers, while recognizing the benefits of AI, are wary of its potential risks. The report reveals that 80% of customers consider it important for humans to validate AI’s outputs. Building trust in AI technology is crucial for successful adoption.

The report presents several key statistics and trends that provide further insight into the state of the connected customer:

  1. Customer experience matters: 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
  2. Reasons for brand switching: Customers switch brands for better deals (72%), product quality (55%), availability (41%), selection (41%), and changing needs/expectations (39%).
  3. Personalization is key: Around 66% of customers expect companies to adapt experiences to match their changing needs and preferences.
  4. Importance of customer data: Technological breakthroughs like generative AI raise customers’ standards. 81% expect faster service, and 73% expect better personalization. The more data customers provide, the better experience they anticipate.
  5. Seamless online and in-person experiences: 74% of customers expect to be able to do anything online that they can do in person or by phone.
  6. Engaging through multiple channels: On average, business buyers engage with companies across 10 channels, with preferences varying depending on context.
  7. Falling short in customer experience: 63% of business buyers feel that most customer experiences fall short of what is possible.
  8. Increased difficulty in B2B sales: B2B sales cycles have lengthened, and 69% of sales professionals say selling is increasingly difficult due to more stakeholders and scrutiny over budgets.
  9. Self-service and chatbot experiences: 72% of customers have used self-service portals, and 55% have used self-service chatbots. However, negative experiences can deter customers from using chatbots again.
  10. The value of the human touch: Almost half of customers, including three-fifths of millennials, are willing to pay extra for better customer service. Immediate interactions with company representatives are expected by 77% of customers.
  11. Customer service and advocacy: Good customer service not only enhances reputation but also drives business growth. 88% of customers are more likely to purchase again due to good customer service.
  12. Proactive service: 53% of customers expect companies to anticipate their needs, yet only 29% of business buyers feel most companies address service issues proactively.

The Importance of Trust in AI and Ethical Use

Trust in AI remains a significant concern as businesses increasingly rely on generative AI to save time and resources. The report highlights the importance of ethical AI and reveals that only slightly over half of customers trust companies to use AI ethically. Advances in AI make it more critical for companies to build trust, with 68% of customers recognizing the significance of trust in AI technology.

Customers stress the importance of the human touch even in the AI era. Only 37% of customers trust AI outputs to be as accurate as those of human employees. Consequently, 81% of customers want human validation of AI’s outputs.

AI Adoption and Challenges

AI adoption in businesses is driven by trust and ethics. Concerns around generative AI include security risks (79%), bias (73%), and its carbon footprint (71%). However, 86% of IT leaders believe generative AI will play a prominent role in their organizations in the near future. While AI and automation enhance efficiency and innovation, organizations need to prioritize responsible use and address potential challenges.

Building Trust, Prioritizing Customers

To prepare for the use of generative AI, businesses should focus on customer priorities such as trust, ethics, and responsible use of technology. Transparency, along with increased visibility into AI application, is crucial in building customer trust. Human validation of AI outputs and providing customers with control over AI engagement are also essential.

Improving the Connected Customer Experience

Disconnected experiences frustrate customers, with 55% feeling like they engage with separate departments rather than one unified company. New technologies, including generative trusted data and AI foundational models, can help bridge this gap and improve overall customer experience.

The State of Connected Customer report provides valuable insights into the evolving relationship between customers and brands. By understanding changing expectations, prioritizing trust, and leveraging AI responsibly, businesses can deliver exceptional experiences and foster long-lasting customer relationships.

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Sources: – Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer reportImage source