After three days of thought leadership, inspiring speakers and breakout sessions at Salesforce Connections’19, our Incloud team have gained practical insights and got a glimpse of new innovative technology and trends to look out for. Our Senior Director, Client Solutions and Success, Craig Larson, has captured the latest trends that will help you better drive your customer engagement and customer service in 2019.

  1. The Customer Experience Stakes have never been higher
  2. Fostering Trust Is the New Business Imperative
  3. Social customer service
  4. Rising demand for operational efficiency
1. The Customer Experience Stakes have never been higher

Consumers are connected more than ever and it’s that connectedness that is raising the expectations. As we are all consumers first, the experience that we have in our personal lives is what is driving the shift in our professional lives and the experiences that we expect as consumers.

65% of business buyers say that they’d actually switch brands if the company didn’t make efforts to be relevant, and almost the same amount of customers are willing to pay a premium for a greater experience. There’s definitely an opportunity from a revenue generation perspective if you match the experience you’re providing to be able to gain that additional price. What’s more, a standout experience with one company prompts nearly three-quarters of customers to hold other companies to higher standards.

But because the customer experience stakes have never been higher, there is also a huge gap that companies are being faced with to be able to offer that great experience as one experience. 

Customers are often dealing with multiple departments of a same company, depending on what issues and questions they have about sales or service delivery. Today, customers expect the representatives they encounter across those touchpoints to have the same information about them and what they went through. In customers’ minds, for example, a service agent should know about a recently signed sales contract, or the details of a recent E-commerce transaction, and engage accordingly. Customers feel the effects, with two-thirds reporting experiences that generally reflect separate departments rather than unified companies and the need to repeat or re-explain – how annoying is that!

Now, as with everything in life, let’s look at the cost of getting this level of connectivity – it’s only by having data! You know it, valuable data of your consumer helps you create a more personalized experience for customers. And this is a great start to gain their trust.

2. Fostering Trust Is the New Business Imperative

The ability for a company to gain the trust of a consumer and to get access to this data is important. If you don’t have data, you won’t be able to use AI, and you won’t be able to know when and how to provide that personalized experience. It’s clear that the majority of folks agree that they are comfortable with the use of personal data only if the experience is raised and relevant, and can clearly demonstrate that the data was utilized in a manner that provided a better experience.

Customers are even more and more selective than they once were in which brands they trust.

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. A company’s trustworthiness is inextricably tied to its bottom line.

Being loyal to your customers is the top behavior that has an impact on the bottom line. This is driving 95% of the business influence to do business with a given company. Think about it, how likely are we to listen to the references that we get from people that we know – a restaurant, a brand?

Now that we know how trust needs to be addressed in today’s connected consumer world, let’s dive into another area that is very prominent with consumers and their level of engagement – social customer service.

3. Social customer service

Consumers are social creatures and don’t want to be treated as a number, but as a person. The lines of differentiation between personal shoppers and business buyers are increasingly getting blurred. The gap between the personal shoppers and business buyers are now narrowing in responses that they’re giving to all these questions.

Social media is quickly becoming the go-to channel for customer service, and it’s easy to see why. It’s fast, it’s easy, and customers are already on it throughout the day. Why not expect brands to keep up? In fact, when a consumer mentions your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LinkedIn, they don’t just hope for a response – they expect one. Switching brands or service providers is easier than ever, but prompt service and real-time engagement can secure customer loyalty. So, why not look at layering social into your customer service strategy? Social media is the stage to deliver.

Here are three different listening strategies that you can put into place.

  •  Brand Monitoring: Identify keywords in social conversations
  •  Industry Monitoring: Understand the larger social landscape that surrounds your business.
  • Competitor Monitoring: See what competitors promote and who they hire.

These strategies are then tied into effective case management process. You can use either a negative comment that you want to manage or a positive one that you want to leverage and reward. As you raise your bar in terms of bringing social into the experience of customer service, keep in mind how you can make sure that you maintain it so that in the next interaction you’re still delivering on the experience that you previously finished delivering. Learn more about the social listening strategies here.

“The last best experience anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experiences they want everywhere
– Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM IX.
4. Rising demand for operational efficiency

Increasing the expectation of customer service will continue to be the number one challenge for companies. So, if 81% of decision makers say that it’s imperative that they must transform their customer service offering to stay competitive, how are they doing it?

From a contact center perspective we are focusing on those interactions that require human intervention as we are not quite there for everything to be fully automated (just look at self driving car accidents – enough said). So if humans are still required, how can with the use AI to help augment a person’s capacity to: Understand, Interact, Answer and Guide the customer?

Understand the issue, augmented intelligence will help the agent remove any interpretation potentials maybe add sentiment translation based on human language detection. Interact effectively with the customer based on the most channel appropriate (time of day, week, language, etc). Answer the client with accurate information readily available based on knowledge article management and, Guide the client to ultimate resolution and request positive experience closure.

With the rising expectations, marketing now owns much more that what they used to. Today it’s not just about running a marketing campaign, but to acquire, retain and grow to managing the customers’ moments throughout the life cycle.

This requires businesses to invest into the technology tools to facilitate this. It’s not only about having just one tool for marketing, but to look across your organization and see how the technology platform can extend into these customer moments.

Salesforce shines over all other technology platforms. Going from marketing, awareness, communication, engagement all the way to Commerce, Service, and Sales Cloud and how you layering in Einstein from an AI perspective – it really just extends natively into those moments and not reinvent the wheel.

It’s a lot to take in and it’s easy to get excited about the latest innovations. But before you dive in, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the Salesforce ecosystem that can help guide you towards a solution that is right for you and your future business. Our experts can help you customize the technology to fit your unique business needs. Whether you’re in the financial industry wanting to acquire trust and deliver informed and empathetic service, or in the retail industry wishing to create intelligent and personalized experiences, there’s a unique cloud solution for you!

Curious for more news and trends from Salesforce Connections’19? Read about the top marketing and E-commerce trends to watch out for in 2019 here! Or watch our Best of Connections’19 webinar here!