Southeast Asian businesses deliver better experience as customers embrace automation – The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020

As customer expectations continue to evolve, Zendesk has launched its latest Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report to help make sense of the big factors influencing these rapidly changing behaviours. The report is based on industry research and product usage data from 45,000 customers worldwide, including supplementary data from Southeast Asia.

Self-service Takes Center Stage in Southeast Asia
At the forefront of the convenience economy, Singaporeans (62.4%) and Thais (44.2%) are significantly ahead of their regional peers when it comes to adopting AI-enabled customer support for resolving support tickets. In contrast, Chat is the dominant self-help channel for Malaysians (18.2%) and Indonesians (16.4%), reflecting how consumer behaviour is being shaped by mobile-first economies.

Messaging as a form of customer support is also beginning to take root across the region. Filipinos (42.9%) are the heaviest users of messaging channels, such as WhatsApp and LINE, for customer engagement in Southeast Asia, with Malaysians (3.7%) coming in at a distant second, followed by Thais (2.9%) in third. Industries, too, are turning to messaging – regarded globally for their capabilities to deliver a seamless service experience, the retail (68%), travel (63%) and financial services (60%) industries are also among the heaviest adopters of messaging for customer support in the region.

Convenience is at the top of consumers’ minds, and our research shows that brands are becoming increasingly savvy about how they sell to and reach them. Empowered customers with high expectations are constantly comparing experience and rating services, and this can make or break a brand’s competitiveness. In Southeast Asia, brands like DANA and StashAway are turning to AI-enabled tools as they grow to effectively scale CX, ensuring that they continue to deliver on customer service as a competitive edge.

AI and automation is elevating CX performance
Customers’ top priority when it comes to service is speed – they want their issues solved quickly and effectively. As AI-enabled customer support continues to thrive in Southeast Asia, Zendesk’s research found that improvements across various performance metrics have more than doubled in the past year. For example, the ideal first reply and resolution times dropped from 11.8 hours to 2.6 hours, and 16.4 hours to 4.8 hours respectively. These improvements – while significant in just one year – only translate to a +0.2% year-on-year improvement in Southeast Asia’s CSAT score (86.1%), reinforcing that rate at which customer expectations are rising is exponential.

Malcolm Koh, CX Strategist APAC , Zendesk: “AI-enabled support driven by insights from customer data has opened new doors for brands like Bukalapak and Minor Hotels to deliver more personalised experiences. Improvements in insights and analytics can mean that Southeast Asia’s businesses are becoming more proficient at managing customer data, substantially improving customer experience and loyalty. In fact, research from Forrester found that when customers are engaged in the right way, with the right emotion, they’re even willing to pay a premium.”

CSAT across Southeast Asia
Shaped by various countries across different stages of digital maturity, the average Southeast Asian CSAT score has experienced a steady +1.5% climb to peak at 86.1% over the past two years. Thanks to the benefits of being a later-adopter of customer support technology, Malaysia retains its regional lead for happy customers with a 89.3% CSAT score while Singapore experienced the biggest growth (+5.3%) to 88.1% during the same period.

As digital infrastructures continued to mature across Southeast Asia, so did its steady rise in CSAT scores. Malcolm Koh, CX Strategist APAC , Zendesk: “The key to high performing CX teams is a robust AI strategy backed by data insights and automation to effectively scale support. Looking forward, businesses across Southeast Asia will need to examine how AI can permeate more channels – including social media – for customers to self-serve, especially in reaching out to a growing demographic of highly discerning Gen Zs.”

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