Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, today released the third edition of its State of the Connected Customer report which reveals that Middle East companies are being challenged to rethink not just the individual experiences they provide customers, but their entire approach to customer engagement. At the same time, the research shows that corporate values have become more relevant than ever and factor into customers’ decisions of whether or not to buy from a company.
The global report captures insights from over 8,000 consumers and business buyers across 16 countries, to help companies transform how they drive customer success.
“Three-quarters of customers are expecting companies to use technology to enhance experiences underlines the importance of Middle East organizations better understanding their customers,” said Thierry Nicault, Regional Vice-President Enterprise Business Unit (EBU) for Middle East, Africa and Central Europe Salesforce. “In the Middle East, AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things can optimize omni-channel customer engagement, drive new streams of digital revenue, and enhance customer loyalty.”
Customers Expect Connected, Multi-Channel Experiences
The Salesforce report determines that customers’ standards for engagement are different today. Customers expect timely and connected experiences where their preferences are known across multiple touchpoints and can be quickly accessed. Worldwide, 69% of customers expect connected experiences that raise the bar for engagement, and 71% of customers expect companies to interact with them in real time.
Brand Values Sway Customers’ Buying Decisions
New this year, the research found that corporate values are swaying customers’ buying decisions. Customers expect companies to not only operate ethically and with their communities’ interests at heart, but in a way that advances causes that they care about such as equal rights, philanthropy and sustainability. Worldwide, 73% of customers believe a company’s ethics matter more than they did a year ago, and 65% actively seek to buy from environmentally sustainable companies. In the Middle East, customers also want to know a company’s stance on equal rights, and many are actively seeking to buy from companies that give back.
Trust is More Relevant than Ever
Trust has always been valuable in customer relationships, but in an era marked by data security vulnerabilities, a lot goes into fostering customer trust. The Salesforce report revealed that48% of customers have stopped buying from a company that did something distrustful, and 63% believe that most companies aren’t transparent about how they use their data.
Globally, customers feel that honesty is the best policy for earning customer trust, and while security and reliability serve as baseline indicators of trustworthiness, other factors such as transparency, ethics and authenticity come in striking distance.
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Customers Expectations are Driving Innovation, Digital Transformation
Innovation can come through new products or new ways of engaging customers. Whatever the form factor, the bar for innovation is higher than ever, with 75% of customers worldwide expecting companies to use new technologies to create better experiences. Digital transformation initiatives like artificial intelligence, voice technology and connected devices are having more impact on the customer experience. 76% of customers are using connected devices, and 62% are open to using artificial intelligence to improve their experiences.
The State of the Connected Customer report is being released globally ahead of Salesforce Connections 2019 (June 17-19), where marketing, commerce and customer service leaders from top brands come together to transform their businesses and bring their companies closer to customers. Salesforce CMO Stephanie Buscemi will keynote the event and introduce new innovations across the Salesforce product portfolio.
The Salesforce report features data profiles from three regions – Europe, APAC and North America – and 16 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States. Cultural bias impacts survey results.