It’s truly a connected society and our customer expectations are rapidly changing. And as such, technologies are emerging and are raising our expectations and the bar for what customers are demanding by the day, and in many cases, by the hour. What’s perhaps even more interesting about this rapid change is that businesses have no choice but to give customers what they want when they want it—if they want to remain profitable and in business.

As businesses evolve, so do the people and technologies that serve the customers. As a result, we are seeing new technologies that are reacting to customer needs and are looking more closely at AI (artificial intelligence).

As I noted on my radio show, I would go as far as to state we are in the middle of what many would insist is a “service revolution.” As you read this blog, just ponder that point for a moment. With that in mind, perhaps we need to take a step back and ask what is the “State of Service” in 2019?

When we actually look at service across the globe, this just might give businesses a better idea about connected consumers’ expectations; how service organizations are leveraging tech to meet these evolving needs; and how artificial intelligence is impacting companies across every industry in the IoT (Internet of Things) space.

What are customer expectations? The new generation of workers are digital natives. Some of their defining characteristics of the younger adults include being motivated, socially conscious, and individualistic.

Even if you’re not a business that deals directly with consumers, you should still keep the next generation in mind when you think about what your customers want, because, eventually, this generation is going to be your customers. They’re going to be the business leaders of tomorrow.

They have some very big expectations. They expect companies they do business with in life and at work to offer the same expedient service.

The research even seems to bare these facts out. Salesforce’s Second Edition of its “State of the Connected Customer” report reveals some interesting stats. Approximately 80% of Salesforce study participants say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. That means it’s not enough to provide an outstanding product or service.

You have to provide a good customer experience as well. According to the report, the breakdown of that 80% is like this: 79% of consumers and 81% of business buyers say experience is as important as products and services.

In addition to experience, trust is also really important to today’s customers. Some 94% of consumers and 96% of business buyers say they are more likely to be loyal to a company they trust, according to the Salesforce data.

As I see it, that means a business buyer in her early 40s has 24/7/365 access to information via her smartphone. And she has seen her industry change by leaps and bounds since she entered the workforce after graduating college. Add to this, she is also very familiar with the fast pace of innovation that has become the norm.

She knows that the technology you are trying to pitch her may be outdated long before she retires on a beach somewhere, so she’s looking for something about your company that’s going to differentiate you from all the other peddlers. So, while she has to work with the tool, it’s all about the customer experience.

She lives in a connected society and appreciates and has come to expect a smooth, quick, and good customer experience. If you think you are going to secure her company’s business, you better “wow” her and her buying team.

Based on the Salesforce numbers, customers’ expectations are higher than ever before. Some 64% of consumers and 73% of business buyers self-report that their standard for good experiences are higher than ever.

Perhaps the most interesting stat to me is what I hear all the time: People are not happy with customer service. In fact, what’s also interesting is that a lot of loT people don’t really believe companies are going to deliver. About half say companies generally fall short of their expectations when it comes to customer experience.

They’re also skeptical: 59% of consumers and 44% of business buyers don’t believe companies have their best interests in mind.

That’s why it’s time to turn to AI. Some of the use cases for AI that have customers excited include credit card fraud detection, automatic reminders, predictive traffic alerts, and voice-activated personal assistants.

Salesforce’s data suggests high-performing companies in terms of customer service are using AI. They’re using AI to gather information and to automate the handling of routine customer issues.

They’re also using AI in seemingly simple ways, like filling fields in automatically for customers when they’re using a form or help agent.

Chatbots, of course, are also being adopted more readily as the technology evolves and becomes more natural and accepted—or even preferred—by customers. In the future, I see AI changing humans’ role in customer service. I also see AI doing a lot of good for businesses trying to improve the customer experience.

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