I recently got my hands on a copy of Salesforce’s latest State of the Connected Customer report, which captures customers’ thoughts from midway through 2020 and, ultimately, the pandemic and other societal crises during the year. At this point, the key findings are probably not a surprise to read, but the details and stats behind them are interesting, nonetheless.
Key findings include:
- Customer connections are essential: 99% of customers say how a company acts during a crisis demonstrates its trustworthiness.
- Drive differentiation through understanding and convenience: 54% said it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information.
- Digital, digital, digital = critical: 88% of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives because of the pandemic.
- Brands must demonstrate their values: 86% said the societal role of companies is changing.
It’s the latter that I’ll focus on here. What values do brands have in place to reflect that they put people first and that they care for all people equally? I’ve seen other studies that stated that customers want to buy from brands that care for their employees. Salesforce’s report echoes this and found that 82% of respondents reported that the treatment of employees during the crisis influenced their decision to buy from a company. The report also notes that 85% said how a company treats its customers during the crisis impacts the buying decision.
I’ve written before that customers want participative relationships with brands, meaning they want to work together to co-create better experiences. Salesforce found that 51% of customers believe they have the power to influence change within companies. Some of this change is done through voting with their feet (or wallets), also known as the Law of Two Feet. Do your values include listening to customers and co-creating with them?
While 71% of consumers (and 82% of business buyers) reported paying more attention to companies’ values than a year ago, 62% have stopped buying from companies whose values don’t align with their own. It’s important to note that these “consumer grade” experiences also influence business buyers.
Two final statistics: 89% of customers expect companies to clearly state their values, while 90% expect them to clearly demonstrate their values. (Why wouldn’t that be 100%?!) This seems like a great opportunity to provide a refresher on corporate values. These resources should help:
- Activate Change with Core Values
- 5+ Ways to Socialize and Operationalize Your Core Values
- Linking Behaviors to Core Values
- A Lesson in Living Your Core Values
- Do Your Believe in Your Company’s Core Values?
As customers re-evaluate their brand relationships on the basis of values during this ongoing pandemic, it’s even more critical that brands re-evaluate their core values to ensure that they make sense for today’s world (perhaps they were established many years ago, and it’s time to add one or two to bring them up to 2021 standards) and to make sure that behaviors and actions are well-aligned with those values. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to ensure that the corresponding behaviors have been defined and that the core values have been operationalized. Core values are not meant to be posters on the wall; they are meant to be lived and breathed. If they are not, both employees and customers will walk.
If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand. -Howard Schultz