APAC consumers feel customer service is an afterthought
- 68% of APAC consumers feel as though customer service is an afterthought for businesses.
- 71% of those in APAC say they would switch to a competitor after one bad customer service experience.
- 69% of APAC businesses agree there is a direct link between customer service and business performance
While businesses around the world strive to improve the customer experience, many fail to realize that customer service is the most critical component in perfecting the customer experience. It would be pointless to have the perfect platform for customers if basic customer service requirements are not fulfilled.
And the reality is, 68% of APAC consumers feel as though customer service is an afterthought for businesses. The figures were reported in Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report 2022. The report not only highlights the potential for businesses to drive business success with a focus on customer experiences but has also uncovered a gap between consumer expectations and company actions when it comes to customer service.
Despite 80% reporting that the quality of customer service they receive impacts their purchase decisions, the need to close the gap between these expectations and customer experience delivered has never been more urgent.
Today, customers are more vocal about their increased expectations. Many would rant their frustrations on social media whenever they have a bad customer service experience. Not only is this damaging for the brand, but it can also change their perception towards it. In fact, 71% of those in APAC say they would switch to a competitor after one bad customer service experience. The opportunity cost for many is nothing short of revenue loss and missed growth opportunities.
According to Adrian McDermott, Chief Technology Officer at Zendesk, businesses cannot afford to take a transactional approach to their relationships with their customers. He pointed out that customer service is now a key differentiator, but this year’s report reveals some gaps exist between expectation and delivery.
“Customers are noticing this gap and voting with their business – and that’s perhaps the clearest signal to businesses that change needs to happen, and fast,” he added.
For Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, APAC at Zendesk, the increasing demand for quality customer experience is evident in the region. Businesses that leverage the right strategies to deliver exceptional customer experience will be able to set themselves apart from competitors and grow their customer relationships.
Prioritizing customer service
Of the APAC businesses surveyed, 69% agree there is a direct link between customer service and business performance – with 60% estimating that the former has a positive impact on business growth. However, when broken down by country, just 67% of Singapore businesses agree with this direct link, lagging behind other markets such as India (88%) and Australia (77%).
Beyond delivering a single solution-based interaction with the consumer, businesses need to take the opportunity to drive customer engagement and deepen the relationship. However, customer engagement in APAC is up by only 4% from the previous year, signifying more work needs to be done to better serve customers. Singapore experienced the slowest growth in customer engagement, up by only 1%.
This report also reveals that customer expectations can drive or stifle growth plans. As consumers spend more online, a majority say their customer service expectations have increased in the past year. Channels play a big part in meeting these increased expectations and particularly, being where the customer is. However, more than half of the APAC (51%) companies surveyed did not have a strategic plan for customer service over the immediate to medium term.
Other key insights from the survey showed:
- 71% of APAC consumers say their customer service expectations have increased over the past year.
- 94% of APAC consumers say they are willing to spend more with companies that personalize the customer service experience. This is even higher for Singapore consumers (96%).
- 93% of APAC consumers say they are willing to spend more with companies that offer them the chance to find the answers they need themselves.
- Companies are evenly divided between those who still view customer experience as a cost center (33%) and those who believe it is a revenue-generating engine for growth (34%).
Bots or Agents?
Despite some businesses investing in chatbots and conversational AI to enable their physical agents to handle more important queries, increased expectations by customers have led to increased pressure on agents.
Zendesk’s research found that 68% agree that customer service agents are essential to driving sales with 73% of APAC consumers saying they are open to product recommendations from service agents.
At the same time, when it comes to resolving issues, almost half the consumers surveyed (44%) are looking for agents who are helpful and empathetic – and this often translates into a positive experience.
However, many businesses have yet to recalibrate their view of customer service as a cost center, meaning investments in optimizing the function have not kept pace with growth – let alone with increasing customer expectations. While a majority of businesses acknowledge agents as being pivotal to customer retention, only 16% of APAC agents are extremely satisfied with their workloads.
Chatbots are supposed to enhance and assist agents. Yet despite this, agent burnout continues to be a challenge. While just 20% of APAC agents are extremely satisfied with the quality of training they receive, 75% of APAC customers feel that businesses need to improve agent training. This also includes better performance metrics, clear advancement opportunities, and, fundamentally, more respect.
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