9 out of 10 customers want to know whether they are communicating with AI or a human being

The Salesforce report "State of the Connected Customer" shows how AI, digital transformation and macroeconomic trends are changing customer expectations and behavior across the purchase cycle. The report is based on a survey of 650 consumers and 150 retail decision makers in Switzerland.

The report shows that economic and technological changes are influencing customers' priorities, behavior and expectations. Brands are under pressure to improve.

E-commerce websites and apps, regardless of brand, retailer or online marketplace, remain the most popular digital shopping channels. But newer digital channels, such as social media, messaging, and live streaming platforms, are gaining traction.

For example, 51 percent of customers in Switzerland expect companies to understand their needs as they change. And 75% of customers in Switzerland expect faster service due to technological advances.

Price alone does not bind customers

Brands have ample opportunity to compete on more than price. 75% of consumers in Switzerland say that the experience with the company is just as important as its products and services.

Brand loyalty is often not given too much weight: 63% of consumers in Switzerland have changed brands at least once in the past year. Better offers, product quality, and product selection and variety are the three most frequently cited reasons for switching.

(Graphic: Salesforce)

Generative AI arouses curiosity first and foremost

Customers face the rise of generative AI with different feelings. In all 25 countries surveyed, however, "curiosity" is among the top three sentiments associated with AI. Anxiousness is behind the feelings of hope (40%) and curiosity at 36 percent.

Trust is the key to the expansion of AI

Customers expect transparency when companies expand their use of AI: According to the report, 74% of respondents in Switzerland are concerned about the unethical use of AI by companies. 57% percent say greater transparency in the use of AI would increase their trust. And at 87%, nearly nine in ten say it is important for them to know whether they are communicating with AI or a human.

"With AI, companies have the opportunity to make customer experiences even more personalized and to significantly improve their service - consumers will not only benefit from this, these will be key decision criteria for a purchase," Luca Pastorino, Area Vice President & Head of Clouds at Salesforce, comments on the findings. "It's important that companies prioritize trust, handle data responsibly, and be transparent about where AI is being used."

(Graphic: Salesforce)

Navigating between online and offline businesses

The introduction of digital technologies, online and in stores, has changed the retail industry dramatically over the last two decades. This trend will continue with generative AI. The Connected Shopper Report - a related study - shows the renaissance of brick-and-mortar shopping in part because customers have missed that experience. While an estimated 59% of transactions worldwide were conducted digitally in 2021, that number dropped to 51% in 2023. However, forecasts indicate that the share of digital transactions is expected to rise again to 56% by 2025, as shoppers use both digital and physical touchpoints during their shopping journey.

The Connected Shopper Report also shows that 71% of consumers prefer different channels depending on the context. Facebook is the most popular social media platform worldwide when it comes to brand engagement. However, differences are emerging depending on the region. In Switzerland, for example, WhatsApp is the most popular platform.

The Data of the "Connected Customer Report" are from a double-blind survey of 11,000 consumers and 3,300 business customers conducted from May 3 to July 14, 2023. Data was collected from respondents in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The data of the "Connected Shopper Report. come from two anonymous surveys of 2,400 shoppers and 1,125 retail decision makers conducted from May 18 to June 21, 2023. The data was collected from respondents in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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