When we asked what the future held for customer service in 2020, no one predicted the calamity of COVID-19. The pandemic has drastically shifted how we work, live and play, but it also forced us to be innovators and adapt. Looking back on Incite Group’s global 2020 State of Customer Service Report, nearly 75 per cent of customer service experts in Asia-Pacific predicted that by 2020, experience will overtake price and product as a key differentiator. Now that we’re here, we’ve seen that the human touch matters more than ever, and it’s all being delivered digitally.
The pandemic forced organisations to understand the expectations of modern day customers. For the Asia-Pacific region, it meant meeting users in digital channels and leveraging the latest technology to create moments of personlisation and proactive outreach.
Let's reflect on some key findings that are more relevant than ever on how the Asia-Pacific region is paving the way to a digitalised customer service environment.
Automation is on the rise
One of the most talked about topics regarding the future of customer service is the use of AI and automation for simple tasks. The Asia-Pacific region is one of the biggest advocates of digital and automated capabilities in customer service. In fact, over half of Asia-Pacific respondents reported AI technology as a top technology trend.
Those surveyed from the region said they were more than twice as likely than those in Europe and North America to automate all tier-one support agent roles. They also reported seeing a growing potential in AI, personlisation technology, and voice technology. The region also ranked significantly better at serving various digital channels such as message apps. This is perhaps best reflected in Asia-Pacific’s emphasis on social media use in customer service.
Social media’s giant shadow
Social media apps are gaining ground as a customer service option, especially for millennial and Gen-Z customers. Findings show that Asia-Pacific respondents considered Facebook as a key channel for customer service by 10 per cent more than North American respondents, and a soaring 30 per cent more support WhatsApp as a customer service option compared to North America. The researchers cite ubiquitous smart phone use as a key driver of social media use among consumers in Asian countries. The report sites two key findings from GlobalWebIndex’s report:
1. Global Consumer Trends: 16- to 24-year old respondents from Asia-Pacific reported a stronger preference for social media over search engines and browsers.
2. Social Flagship: Asia-Pacific is Facebook’s biggest growing market space, with Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam possessing a 90 per cent penetration rate.
I’ve seen partners engage organisations with solution roadmaps that encompass digital services to complement associate daily workflow by containing unnecessary calls and simple interactions with AI capabilities. This frees agents to have more meaningful and emotional moments with customers during complex interactions. Creating the perfect customer service environment means meeting the expectations of customers at every point of the journey.
This social media landscape is also shifting the region’s customer service interests towards tools that can create exceptional omnichannel experiences. “Brands in Asia-Pacific have been forced by their environment to tackle omnichannel head-on and provide services across a broad range of channels from the very start, rather than having to reorganise and reshape their customer service departments from established practices across only a handful of channels,” the report stated.
Asia-Pacific is leading the way interest in technology trends going into 2020. Compared to Europe and North America, Asia-Pacific respondents expressed greater levels of interest in AI, personlisation technologies, VR/AR and voice technology, and were only a fraction behind Europe in their interest in chatbots, virtual assistants, and face-to-face video.
In today’s climate, organisations will have to take the reins to turn these digital interests into invaluables tool to connect customers and create a new-normal.