[ Press Release ] Companies in APAC must meet rapidly increasing digital customer service needs or risk falling behind, new Infobip report indicates

Infobip, a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected customer experiences across all stages of the customer journey, today released a whitepaper revealing that the pandemic has upended the customer service landscape. The report shows that unless businesses meet the rapidly increasing needs for digital customer service, they risk losing market share.

The paper, titled A Year of Disruption: Managing Increasing Complexities in Customer Service, explores the enormous pressures businesses across Asia have faced in adapting their customer support services as consumers shifted online and staff were forced to work from home. Businesses also faced a significant dilemma – an urgent necessity to invest in digital customer support services (CSS) and customer experiences (CX) against a backdrop of all time low profitability and budgets stretched to their limits.

Infobip’s research, which surveyed 2,760 professionals across nine markets – China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, shows that while companies intend to implement some changes permanently in future, there are still challenges to overcome. One of these is evolving preferences: Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, were cited as the main channel of customer support.

Customers today prefer to turn to social media rather than making a call or sending an email for enquiries. More companies are recognising this and are improving their customer communications by integrating chat (Facebook, WhatsApp Business, Viber) into their larger communications strategies. In Hong Kong, there is a particularly strong opportunity for companies to pursue this avenue, with 86% of the population being active users on WhatsApp and 84% on Facebook, and the city having one of the fastest internet connections in the world.

Velid Begović, Sales Director of APAC at Infobip, said: “The necessity to digitize customer service touchpoints is now more important than ever, but many businesses have failed to adapt quickly enough to changing consumer realities. To stay competitive in 2021, businesses must have a clear digital transformation strategy and be able to anticipate challenges ranging from unexpected spikes in customer enquiries, to sudden changes in mobility restrictions that impact the way customers are served.”

“Today’s customer experience must be simple, convenient and seamless. The slightest friction could turn away a customer from a business forever. Within a purchase process, for instance, 95% of users will refuse to move from one stage to the next if it requires any switch of apps, platform or sessions. These are extremely fine margins; businesses who understand this and innovate accordingly will reap the rewards.”

Other challenges that companies must adapt to include:

• More queries amid uncertainty: 54% of respondents cited the increase in support enquiries as a top challenge faced in customer support last year.
• Bridging the skills gap: The survey shows that 60% of APAC respondents said employee training is a top consideration when adopting a digital customer support system.

The data is an indication that the CSS and CX landscape is evolving and slowly departing from traditional channels.

Automating the Future

Half of the respondents reported that the digitalisation of CSS is a permanent implementation moving forward, considering the long-term benefits that come with smart automation and implementation of a digital omnichannel hub. On a scale of 1-10, respondents rated an eight on average for the importance and necessity for CSS to be digitalised.

Infobip’s research also shows that the CX industry seems to be experiencing a skills gap. In all the markets, respondents listed employee training as the top considerations when it comes to adopting a digital customer support system.

Furthermore, respondents in all the markets said their customer support teams are ready for remote working. A deeper dive into the data tells us that the increase in support channels, management of new support channels and unfamiliarity with new channels are among the common digital technology challenges.

Preparing the Labour Force

Infobip encourages employers to train their CX workforce for digital transformation and invest in communication channels that are relevant to their markets by finding the best solutions to simplify their communication needs.

Survey responses were collected between December 21 and December 27, 2020. To download A Year of Disruption: Managing Increasing Complexities in Customer Service, please visit here.

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