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New Salesforce Research Reveals That 71% of Indians Expect Companies to Accelerate Digital Initiatives, Showing the Many Ways Customer Engagement Is Changing Amid Crises

Indian customers estimate 60% of their interactions with businesses take place online this year, compared to 47% in 2019

Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, released the fourth edition of its State of the Connected Customer report which reveals that while a string of crises has affected all facets of life, including a fundamental shift in how customers connect with brands, factors like empathy, personalization, convenience, and digital transformation are the keys to customer relationships. As these same customers reevaluate the role of business in society, the notion of stakeholder capitalism is increasingly factored into purchase decisions.

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“Regardless of who they market, sell, or provide service to, businesses are navigating a landscape they couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of this year,” said Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce. “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 business in society. Connecting customers at various touchpoints — digital, human, or other —  to gain a holistic understanding is the first step on the path to resiliency and growth.”

The global report captures insights from over 15,000 consumers and business buyers across 27 countries, including 650 respondents from India, to help companies transform how they drive customer success. The research examines survey results across four generations of customers: baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials, and Gen Zers.

New for this year, interactive data by country and generation is available in Tableau, highlighting the key findings by COVID-19 impacts, consumers and business buyers.

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The key trends revealed in this year’s State of the Connected Customer show:

  • Customer Connections Are Essential Amid Crises

The events of this year have upended the relationships between customers and brands. During a time when uncertainty and confusion reign, brands have an opportunity to reinforce and rebuild trust with new and loyal customers alike. In India, 94% of customers say how a company acts during a crisis demonstrates its trustworthiness. 

  • Understanding and Convenience Drive Differentiation

As each individual navigates change and uncertainty, empathy for and support of customers’ unique needs, expectations, and challenges are as critical, as is providing a convenient, connected experience that eliminates unnecessary burdens in a stressful time. Forty-three percent of Indian customers say it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information. 

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  • The Digital Imperative Hits Its Moment of Truth

Digital-first behavior is here to stay as customers develop new habits that will last for the long term. As digital engagement grows, customers expect companies to digitize their operations for multichannel, high-touch interactions. This relies in no small part on the use of personal information, and customers are calling for enhanced transparency and stewardship. In India, 94% of customers say that COVID-19 has elevated their expectation of digital capabilities. 

  • Customers Demand That Brands Demonstrate Their Values

Long-overdue reckonings with social, economic, and ecological ills have come to the fore, and society is calling on businesses to do their part in righting wrongs. A failure to heed responsibilities to more than shareholders threatens bottom lines. Ninety-five percent of Indian customers say the societal role of companies is changing.

Look Ahead: Lessons from Across Sectors and Industries

Customers navigate products, services, and experiences from a variety of industries throughout their day-to-day lives, criss-crossing between the personal and professional, digital and physical, essential and supplementary. As they do this, their standards are being constantly influenced, with distinctions between sectors often blurred in their minds.

Companies seeking to differentiate themselves are wise to look beyond their immediate competition and evaluate how their capabilities stack up against other industries. Globally, 62% of consumers say their experiences with one industry influence their expectations of others.

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For more information:

  • Blog by Vala Afshar, Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist: 78% of Customers Think Crisis Should Catalyze Business Improvement: New Research Shows How Customer Engagement Will Change Forever
  • Salesforce Newsroom post: 15,000+ Consumers and Business Buyers Weigh in on the Future of Customer Engagement
  • Salesforce interactive Tableau Dashboard with India-specific data
  • Salesforce 4th State of the Connected Customer research report


Data in the State of the Connected Customer report is from a double-blind study of 12,000 consumers and 3,600 business buyers across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific. Data was collected between July 16 and August 18, 2020. All respondents are third-party panelists. Countries surveyed include Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, S. Africa, S. Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, UK, and the United States. Cultural bias impacts survey results. Data was weighted to accurately represent the general population.

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