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Salesforce: Consumer preference for digital channels cemented in 2020
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

To pin the fast and furious shift in consumer attitudes over the past year on a single crisis would be impossible, as social, economic, environmental and public health issues all converged over the course of 2020 to throw every business’ best laid plans out the window.

To try to measure the impact of these simultaneous changes on consumer behavior, Salesforce surveyed more than 15,000 individuals across 27 countries for their latest State of the Connected Customer report. In it, researchers explain that “digital transformation has hit an inflection point” this year, where long-simmering trends toward digital sales and communications were unexpectedly accelerated past the point of no return in many industries.

However, it’s not just the channels and the tech that have shifted as a result, but also the humans at either end of the interaction.

“A massive shift to digital channels isn’t the only challenge that leaders have to grapple with. They also need to listen and respond to customer demands for empathy and understanding, innovative products and services, and a fundamental rethinking of the role of businesses in society,” Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce, said in the report. “Connecting customers’ various touch points — digital, human or otherwise—to gain a holistic understanding is the first step on the path to resiliency and growth.”

Trust and brand perception, for instance, are now valued highly among consumers when choosing what brands they’ll deal with. Respondents who agreed that “A company’s trustworthiness matters more than a year ago” jumped to 82 percent this year compared to 73 percent last year, while more than 61 percent of respondents agree that “It’s difficult” for a company to earn their trust today.

Where should companies be focusing these branding efforts according to Salesforce?

For the first time ever, digital engagement officially overtook in-person interactions as the dominant method for conducting business in 2020, as 58 percent of consumers expect to do more shopping online post-pandemic, while 80 percent of business buyers will go digital-first in the future.

Furthermore, consumers are leveraging digital channels across their entire relationship with brands—from sales to customer support—as workers themselves have moved online. Here is where businesses have huge room for improvement: While 76 percent of customers expect “consistent interactions across departments,” 54 percent of those polled generally feel “sales, service, and marketing don’t share information,” signaling misalignment in digital goals across industries.

This perceived misalignment shouldn’t come as a surprise, as teams across departments and industries were literally faced with the biggest disruption to work in at least a generation. But the brands that are able to put their best “digital foot” forward in tying these loose ends together and optimizing digitization across their organization are the ones most likely to weather future global economic disruptions.

This all hinges on the ability for businesses to keep their different departments and resources aligned by synchronizing visibility across their increasingly decentralized network footprints. From customer service reps taking voice and video calls from home to sales and marketing teams who require access to business-critical apps remotely, visibility across all Internet and cloud environments involved in connecting customers to the business is essential to delivering consistent experiences.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: cloud computing, cloud, digital channels, digital transformation, consumer tastes, consumer trends, salesforce, network management, network monitoring, network performance monitoring, enterprise IT

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