Marketers now have the technologies to build corner-store type relationships at scale, according to The Rise of the Customer-Led Economy, a new Economist Intelligence Unit Report commissioned by Salesforce.com.
Those new technologies include mobile, social media, cloud computers, and the Internet of things—and as consumers embrace them, savvy are marketers responding by using them to enhance their campaigns and interactions.
According the results of a survey of 1,300 global executives included in the report, 89% of the top performing companies have recognized the importance of these new technologies and have embraced them in adopting strategies to improve the customer experience. Commitment from CEOs and CMOs is essential for companies looking to embrace the new technologies, according to the report.
The advantage many of these technologies bring is connections. Eighty percent of the executives surveyed said that improving connections through mobile, cloud, social media, and connected products would improve the customer experience. This in turn leads to increases in customer satisfaction and retention.
“Not only are customers better informed and better connected, they expect the companies with which they interact to be as plugged in to this new world as they are,” the report says. “Companies that cannot realign their channels to emerging customer preferences will suffer,” the report says.
But many companies lag in embracing new technologies. The challenges that respondents cited include uncertainty about which channels will dominate in the future (cited by 40%); the balancing need to respond to individual feedback with the need to uncover and respond to emerging trends across customer segments (39%); and difficulties in gleaning customer insights from data.
Although most respondents said they’re not sure which of the new technologies will dominate in the future, many expect social media to become the top channel over the near term. Forty-three percent of respondents said that over the next three years social media will become their number one channel for communicating with customers, as compared to the 27% for whom social is currently in the top spot. Additionally, more than half (54%) of senior executives see mobile apps as a “key instrument” for improving connections with customers. But most companies (51%) still rely on their website and email for the bulk of their customer communications.
Ultimately, a primary goal of harnessing technology is to improve the customer experience (CX). Among those surveyed, 65% of CEOs and 93% of CMOs say their organization has changed its CX strategy. In most cases, CMOs are at the CX helm; 93% of respondents noted that the CMO is leading their company’s customer interaction strategies.