Written by Colin Withers on November 23, 2016
in Customer Experience

Last month, Salesforce released their State of the Connected Consumer report which surveyed more than 7,000 consumers and business buyers to help marketers understand how today’s hyper-connected world has changed customer behaviour. The report also separates several questions into responses from Millennials, Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers/Traditionalists, highlighting the fact that consumer preferences are not uniform across generations. Here are six key stats that jumped out at us:

  1. Customer churn is only one bad experience away. Customers said they were extremely likely or somewhat likely to switch brands if a company has a difficult purchasing or checkout process (74%), doesn’t make an effort to personalize their communications (52%), doesn’t anticipate their needs (50%), or doesn’t provide an easy-to-use mobile experience (50%). The cost of not providing true 1:1 marketing and personalized customer experiences isn’t just about losing out on acquisition ROI. It has already bled over into losing the customers you’ve already won. If you’re Air Canada, one bad experience can send your Elite Status customer packing.
  2. Customers demand real-time interactions. 64% of consumers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real-time, while 80% of business buyers expect the same. Responding in real-time goes far beyond simple social media replies. It means pushing content and offers via push notifications, mobile, email and predictive web content when the time is right. Think emails from Adidas pushing their latest running shoes on unseasonably warm days.
  3. Familiarity at every touchpoint. 75% of consumers strongly agreed or agreed that they expect companies to provide a consistent experience wherever they engage with them, citing website, social media, mobile and in-person as examples. “Personalized” means more than dynamic first names. If you’re TD or BMO, your customers are going to expect that you know them and can anticipate their needs. If they walk into a Mortgage consultation and the rep doesn’t know anything about them, they’ll be much more willing to chase the lowest rate.
  4. Customers are willing to share data for personalization. Customers understand that to have brands deliver on the personalized experiences they are demanding they will have to hand over their data. Not surprisingly, 63% of Millennials, 58% of Gen Xers and 46% of Baby Boomers/Traditionalists agreed or strongly agreed that they were willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts. This means that you need to follow through on your end of the deal when you ask for data. For example, if GSK asks for loads of data upon entry into a patient support program but then sends their patients completely generic content, they aren’t providing the level of service expected for the amount of information given up.
  5. Tech will strengthen customer relationships across industries. When asked to look ahead to 2020, customers have already decided that technology will improve their relationships with companies. Some industries where consumers see the biggest positive impacts in the future are online retailers (70% agreed or strongly agreed), financial services (68% agreed or strongly agreed), travel and transportation (67% agreed or strongly agreed) and hospitality and tourism (66% agreed or strongly agreed). Think of it this way – if Home Depot’s online experience isn’t improving their relationship with their customers, they will look to Amazon instead.
  6. The mobile gap between Millennials and Boomers is bigger than we think. Salesforce reports that Millennials are 2.9 times more likely than Baby Boomers/Traditionalists to prefer purchasing products via a mobile app than an e-commerce site. They were also 2.3 times more likely to consider not purchasing from a company if it didn’t offer a mobile app, and 2.2 times more likely to wish they could do more with their mobile device. A retiree who wants to check on their CIBC investment portfolio may not want to use an app to do so. On the other hand, a millennial will shop elsewhere if Sport Chek’s purchase experience is clunky on their mobile browser.

As we rush headlong into Black Friday and the Holiday shopping season, another year in an increasingly digital and mobile marketplace comes to a close. This means that customer expectations will rise even more after comparing their customer experiences during the busiest purchasing month on the calendar. Are your 2017 plans really up to the task? It’s time for marketers to take a hard look at whether they are doing enough to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s connected consumer.

Colin Withers is the Brand and Communications Manager at Ariad Communications.

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