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2 Ways to Win Your Customers in Asia

Customer expectations are not the same across borders

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BY Hemant Jani - 06 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

As the world goes digital and a brand’s reviews can make or break a business, consumer expectations are continually rising when it comes to the service they receive from organizations.

There are various factors contributing to rising customer service expectations. According to a study from the Economist Intelligence Unit, 72% of corporate executives believe access to online information is the key driver behind rising expectations. In addition, the herd instinct will mean that what consumers see and hear from other consumers will affect their own consumer journey. And when it comes to everyday purchases, millennials’ loyalties are up for grabs.

Remember that those customer expectations are not the same across borders. The assumption that what works in one part of the world can work in another region can lead to poor customer service. There are two significant differences between what consumers demand in Asia versus what consumers expect in the West. These differences should affect how companies localize their customer service policies.

Asians use mobile and social media to find influencers

Last year marked a milestone: For the first time, more than 50% of the world’s Internet users were in Asia, according to data released by Internet World Stats. Engagement is a major part of retention, and one of the best ways to interact with customers is through social media. Facebook, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger are the most-used apps worldwide, followed by APAC platforms like QQ and WeChat. Asians turn to these sites to communicate, get insight from social influencers, and discover different products and services.

Users in America mainly use social media to keep in touch with people, while a smaller group say they want to connect with public figures.

What does that mean for your retention efforts? You need to understand how customers are using these sites to better engage with them. Consumers in APAC are more interested in finding influencers, whereas the West is more about building relationships. If your brand wants to improve their customer service in Asia, it is paramount that customer service is accessible via the Internet, and if possible, through a smartphone app.

Technology still requires a human touch

Traditional Asian service revolves around personal service. Where AI does stand to make a big impact in the not-too-distant future is in self-service. Many customers would prefer to find answers themselves, without dealing with customer support. AI can empower customer service agents with contextual information and tools to help them do their job more efficiently.

But even in the age of technology, consumers still want to deal with people for certain transactions and at critical moments in the process. Brands need to ensure that customer service software has clear escalation paths to human agents from systems such as self-service to combine technology with human insight to meet consumers’ demands.

Within Asia, there are various cultures and countries to be considered. For example, Thai customers value courteous and informed staff much more than South Korean or Malaysian consumers. In a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 63% of Chinese respondents said they would immediately switch brands if they received poor service, compared to under 25% in India.

Build your business to be customer-centric and continually check everything you do to make sure it fits with consumer requirements. Listen to their feedback and act on it, and make sure that everyone within the organization is focused on customer needs.

Hemant Jani is the co-founder of customer service software Abhisi Help Desk