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Study: SEA consumers positive about automated interactions with brands

Southeast Asian consumers have expressed positive sentiments towards well-executed automated interactions with brands, with 68% of individuals agreeing that if done well, completely automated interactions with a company can delight them. According to the recent Adobe Experience Index, Southeast Asian consumers also preferred interacting with computers, with only 45% exhibiting a preference to interact with humans.

Adobe said this is in contrast to prevailing attitudes in other regions, where more than half of respondents typically favour human interactions. More specifically, consumers aged 25 to 34 years old and 50 to 64 years old (71%) said that if done well, completely automated interactions with a company can still delight them.

Those between 18 to 24 years old (62%) were least likely to be delighted by automation among all the age groups.

Despite being comfortable with everyday interactions being automated, consumers aged 25 to 34 years old still believe businesses should provide personal service (83%), whether in store or online.

Southeast Asians are most impressed with future innovation that helps save time, with the top two being government interaction automation and synced vehicle touch screens at drive-through (49 out of 100 points). Among the top five also include smart stores with no check out lines (48), smart prescription bottle (47) and bump phones at restaurants to pay share of bill (44).

Consumers in this region are also most impressed with experiences that help to save hassle. These include the ability to have food delivered exactly where they are at a stadium or concert (53%), using mobile apps to bring museum objects to life (51%), and also as hotel keys and for check-ins (50%). According to Adobe, the findings suggest that brands in Southeast Asia should focus on innovations that help deliver quicker and more delightful customer experiences.

On the other hand, consumers here found unexpected cost situations to be the biggest experience breakers for them, especially no return policies by marketplace sellers (52%), cancellation policy for travel purchases not being highlighted prior to online purchase (48%) and hidden monthly fees (48%). As such, Adobe said it is important for brands in the region to pay attention to their delivery of these aspects to truly delight consumers.

Meanwhile when making purchases, consumer ratings toward customer service as well as companies’ ability to anticipate needed information is lower across all industries – retail, travel and hospitality, financial services and media and entertainment.

Southeast Asian consumer expectations are interestingly higher among older consumers, with those over 50 years old more likely to behave that brands know and respect them (60 out of 100 points) and delight them (57) at every turn. The survey shows that business bottom-lines could be negatively impacted, if these expectations are not met, Adobe said.

Regardless, Adobe said brands need to keep young people on their side as their reputation may be at stake. Those within the 18 to 34-year-old age group were most likely to complain to a friend (51%) or a family member (48%) about a bad online experience, compared with the 50+ group which was more likely to complain directly to the company in question (48%). Nonetheless, as customer expectations in Southeast Asia rise steadily, the most successful brands will be those working hard to anticipate and meet the unique needs of their customers.

Scott Rigby, head of digital transformation, Adobe said the Southeast Asian survey data is encouraging for brands in this region as it underscores the receptivity of consumers here, towards the transformative impact that technology can bring to customer experiences. With a high mobile penetration across the region, the rate of digital adoption and transformation here is now unmatched, Rigby said.

“What we’re witnessing here is a unique opportunity for brands to experiment – as Southeast Asian consumers leapfrog through technology adoption stages, to become early adopters of technology advancements when it comes to brand experiences,” he added.

He also said that there is “immense potential” for what brands can do to delight their customers through technology – whether putting autonomy in the hands of consumers to access self-directed interactions or enhancing brand experiences with technology.

“However, with the high expectations, organizations need to ensure that their innovation experiences are well-executed. They also need to prioritize the things that matter most to consumers in this region, such as saving them time,” he said.

The index surveyed 1,003 Southeast Asian adults above 18 years old across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in April this year. It was an online survey regarding the preferences and expectations for digital experiences in the retail, travel and hospitality, media and entertainment and financial services industries.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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