Forbes recently published a feature describing how the connected customer will impact your business model. The feature notes that most customers today are connected to the Internet constantly. In fact the only time that most of us can completely switch off is on a flight -although many flights now offer wi-fi so even that is not guaranteed.

The important statistic in the article is that 64% of customers now have an expectation that brands will react to their questions in real-time. That’s not two-thirds of customers having an expectation that they can send an email or tweet and check later for a response – it’s two-thirds of customers expecting that when they send a question to a brand using their smart device, it will be immediately acknowledged and answered.

How times change. It seems that while most customer service executives were focused on trying to enable omni-channel service, customer expectations have gone through the roof. It’s no longer good enough to offer all those communication channels as options, but they all need to be available in real-time.

In addition, the Forbes data suggests that half of customers will switch brand if they feel that the company they are communicating with does not anticipate their needs and 74% will switch brand if the checkout process is complicated.

What I find really interesting in these statistics is that the customer is now very self-aware. They know that brands have a lot of information on their preferences and past behaviour and they expect that the brand should use this to make the shopping experience easier. Any brand that behaves as if they know nothing about customer preferences will struggle when customers are so demanding.

The connected customer really is driving customer experience strategy. If any road-blocks are placed in the path of the customer, from the selection of an item to payment, then most customers will just click on the site of a rival – they will not tolerate a shopping experience that is difficult or one that does not recognise them and predict their needs.

This is creating an entirely new set of requirements for customer experience planners. You need to offer omni-channel service, but also ensure that you can use customer data to predict what they might want next. It is also important to offer deals, recommendations, and ideas without annoying the customer – they don’t want spam.

It’s a delicate balancing act to satisfy the modern connected customer, but as this Forbes data shows, if you ignore customer expectations you can expect a large percentage of your customers to migrate to the competition. What do you think? Leave a comment here or get in touch directly via LinkedIn.