a lady making a complain on the phone about a purchase she made

Do you understand why your customers are complaining? Souce: Shutterstock

Understanding how online consumers make complaints in SEA

E-COMMERCE topped the sector with the most complaints received by the Malaysian National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) for 2016 and 2017 consecutively.

While we’ve yet to see the results for 2018, it is likely that e-commerce might still rank high in the list. Most complaints recorded were pertaining scammers, dissatisfactory quality of products, and others.

This is particularly concerning since the digital economy is expected to thrive exponentially in the years to come. As a business model that solely relies on the internet arena, e-commerce platforms are receiving criticisms and comments faster than ever before.

The bad news of scammers and fraud can spread instantly through various social media channels. As such, it is paramount for e-commerce businesses to swiftly address issues and concerns raised by their customers in a timely and correct manner.

The importance of listening to consumers’ concerns

Cases such as scams and fraud are still very rampant today as seen early in 2018. For example, a recent user found she was a victim of a scam when she noticed that about RM3,513 (about US$845) was used to purchase items without her knowledge.

In the situation, the e-commerce incorrectly dealt with the consumer’s complaints and closed the case before it was resolved. While the e-commerce was not entirely to be blamed for the incident, they could have handled with the issue better if its customer service investigated the matter more thoroughly before dismissing it as resolved.

This was just one of the many issues faced by online consumers making Malaysians hesitant to entrust their Ringgits to online stores.

Bain & Company conducted a research on consumers’ trust and highlighted that consumers in Southeast Asia (SEA) have yet to fully trust e-commerce platforms and that these complaints are typical in the early stages at less developed e-commerce sectors. There is still much for e-commerce to improve to gain consumers’ trust.

Noticing this trend, we partnered with Trusted Company, a third-party platform for consumer reviews to conduct a study and understand how online consumers make complaints online.

We derived our findings by analyzing more than 30,000 reviews and complaints from consumers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Here was what we found:

# 1 | Singaporeans are more likely to ‘yell’ in reviews than Malaysians

When compared between the two countries, Singaporeans were 25 percent more likely to write complaints with capital letters.

# 2 | Filipinos are not too impressed by their local e-commerce players

Filipino online consumers are more likely to leave a negative review of their local e-commerce players as compared to Malaysians. The percentage of how much more likely Filipinos will mention these words when compared to Malaysians in a complaint:

  • 50 percent mentions “worst”
  • 33 percentage write reviews with insult words
  • 12 percentage mentions “bad”

# 3 | Refunds are most requested by Singaporeans

When compared with Malaysians, Indonesians, and Filipinos, Singaporeans are more likely to request for a refund in their complaints; making them among the most demanding consumers in Southeast Asia. 29 percent of complaints by Singaporeans have requested for a refund while only 8 percent of Malaysians have sought refunds in their complaints.

# 4 | Gracious Indonesians

Even though Indonesians are 104 percent more likely to mention fraud as compared to Malaysians they are 100 percent more likely to leave a higher rating in their complaints. We discovered this unique fact when we analyzed the star ratings in their complaints.

# 5 | Singaporeans love to share their joy

Though Singaporeans are among the most demanding consumers in Southeast Asia, they are more likely to share their satisfaction if an e-commerce store was able to meet their needs or exceed their expectations. They are two times more likely to share their fulfillment on social media when compared to Indonesians.

# 6 | The younger generation is more demanding

Post-millennials have higher expectations in e-commerce as compared to older consumers. Reviewers below the age of 20 are 13 percent more likely to provide a lower rating than those between 25 to 30 years old.

# 7 | Highest average rating by country

Indonesians are most happy with their e-commerce experiences and rates them 4.2 out of 5 stars on average followed by Malaysia and the Philippines. Meanwhile, Singaporean online consumers are the least satisfied rating e-commerce at 2.9 out of 5 stars.

Key Takeaways

Overall, it was encouraging to find out that Malaysia’s online consumers were more satisfied with e-commerce when compared to Singaporeans and Filipinos.

Nevertheless, there is much we can learn from Indonesian e-commerce businesses. Their success in maintaining consumers’ satisfaction at a high level is even more significant bearing in mind that logistics is its biggest hurdle due to its vast size and inhabitants across thousands of islands across the country.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), JD.com’s latest offering in Indonesia has introduced new growth opportunities for the overall retail market.

As such, IDC foresees an ongoing advancement in digital transformation to improve business operations, increase customer engagement and a better understanding of consumer shopping preferences in Indonesia.

Our study also revealed that there are no one-size-fits-all consumer relationship formula businesses can replicate across multiple countries.

This is especially relevant for business who operates in multiple countries and an important aspect to be considered for businesses looking to expand outside Malaysia.


This is an expert article by iPrice Group.