In 2004, a teenaged Mark Zuckerberg set out with an ambitious goal: to connect everybody in the world. Fast-forward 12 years, and Facebook engages 1.65 billion active users, and its CEO has even greater plans to expand Internet access everywhere. People have sought out platforms to connect since the dawn of the "World Wide Web." From LiveJournal to Snapchat and all ventures in between, tech has empowered us to form more meaningful connections online.

While peer-to-peer connectivity is a mainstay of our tech activities, how do today's most innovative companies themselves connect with the people who use their services and software daily? Those that have found the most success apply strategic and creative solutions to strengthen the relationship between them. Below are how a few do it right.

1. TalkTalk pushes the boundaries of customer service. With four million customers, the UK telecommunications company is seeing growing demand for digital assistance. In just three years, volume at its contact center has decreased from 25 million to approximately 12 million, while engagement online has shot up from 50,000 logins per week to 350,000. "We're really focusing a lot of effort in this space, so we can ensure and improve our digital offerings to customers," says Sholto Mee, TalkTalk's head of customer service. This lets the company assist customers how and when they want. TalkTalk also empowers them to find self-help online and on their mobile devices. Those unable to find what they need can message a representative for assistance directly.

2. WeWork gets people in a room together. WeWork isn't just a company; it's a connected community. And it helps customers connect in more ways than one. WeWork enables entrepreneurs and teams to physically work side by side whether or not they're part of the same organization. Plus, giving individuals and start-ups access to enterprise-worthy spaces and amenities empowers them to do their best work, develop creatively, and produce the best products. "People want to be able to work in an environment where they can partner with others and feel there's a sort of fluency to the work and how it gets done," explains John Reid-Dodick, WeWork's chief people officer. An online member community supplemented with meet-ups and in-person events grows the connection between WeWork members as well as those members and the company itself.

3. Adobe changes the world through digital experiences. Adobe.com is the software company's #1 marketing tool as well as a highly trafficked site. Unfortunately, it suffered from a low authentication rate, which meant Adobe didn't know who its visitors were, why they were there, or what they wanted to do. With an end goal to drive sales and support through proactive messaging, the company adopted a platform that could automatically reveal more context about each visitor, like company and location. This let them target customers based on behavior and prioritize certain industries and organizations while helping them achieve their goals more quickly.

4. Zappos.com is "powered by service." Since its launch in 1999, the retail site has been famed for its customer-centric approach -- and even has it right in the tagline. This demonstrated philosophy has built up a fan base of loyal, enthusiastic customers who know they'll receive five-star treatment at every step of their journeys. Zappos goes to extreme lengths to ensure the "wow" factor is built right into the experience, and CEO,Tony Hsieh, literally wrote the book on providing the best-in-class customer service. The meaningful connections formed have turned customers into brand advocates.

5. Intuit delights customers with proactive chat. Customer experience is ingrained in Intuit's corporate fabric. The company constantly looks toward the next big thing to make the customer journey more convenient. It was an early pioneer of messaging, which helped humanize its website and let customers purchase products and access the right information without having to leave the channel. As a direct result, customer satisfaction scores rose 20% for certain product lines, and conversion rates improved 25%. Ultimately, Intuit's investment in digital for customer service is a win-win.

We turn to brands we can trust, and we trust those with whom we have established relationships. Intelligent, intuitive tech has transformed this relationship and yielded an an unprecedented connection between us and the brands that get our business. To be successful in an evolving marketplace, companies need to employ the right tools and strategies that will keep this reimagined bond strong or risk losing customers to the competition. The companies that do it right will win loyal customers for life.

Published on: Sep 6, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.