Immersive experiences are fast becoming a key differentiator for brands to stay competitive and to ensure customers remain loyal. As the economic downturn persists across the Asia Pacific region, 68% of leaders agree that strengthening business resilience through customer service becomes a top priority, said Zendesk’s latest global Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report.
As customer expectations continue to rise, businesses will need to redefine their CX strategy and how they engage with customers - especially as new standards emerge, such as immersive CX.
This year’s key findings highlight that Artificial Intelligence (AI), conversational experiences, personalisation, customer well-being and sentiment, and integrated teams are the critical components that businesses need to deliver immersive experiences, which will shape the future of CX.
- Customers want (and expect) AI to evolve
Increased investment in AI has meant customers have become more comfortable with its presence, as chatbot interactions become increasingly commonplace. In APAC, 64% of businesses surveyed indicated that the performance of AI and chatbots has increased significantly over the past 12 months, and that they are becoming more natural and human-like. In Singapore, only 16% of businesses have indicated AI and chatbot integration as one of their top operational priorities.
Customers today have clear ideas about how AI should evolve, and as they enjoy richer experiences with bots, their expectations have also risen – 73% of consumers in APAC want bots to provide the same level of service as humans. The ideal evolution of AI should enable businesses to handle multiple complex questions in customer interactions, and eventually integrate voice-based AI and synthetic agents into their CX offerings.
- Conversational experiences empower customers
Customers are driving the rise of conversational experiences, with the desire for more fluid, friendly and natural interactions that put them in control and do not interrupt current tasks. For example, if a customer stops an interaction, they expect a new support representative to be able to easily pick up where the conversation last ended. In fact, 72% of consumers in APAC spend more with companies that provide a seamless, omnichannel experience across all points of contact.
Similarly, 70% of APAC consumers said they would be likely to spend more on companies that allow them to start conversations on one channel and pick it up on another without the need to repeat themselves. While customer expectations could not be clearer, businesses are still playing catch-up. In APAC, 63% of leaders have yet to implement conversational customer service, although they intend to. Additionally, 65% of APAC leaders - and 73% of leaders in Singapore - are rethinking the entire customer journey to build a more fluid experience to empower customers in any way they need at any time.
- Customers are eager for deeper personalisation
Many businesses still hold a narrow view of what personalisation means and how to deliver it, which is at odds with what customers believe it to be. According to the trends report, customer expectations of personalisation runs deeper and is more advanced than most businesses realise.
In fact, 67% of APAC consumers feel most companies could be doing a better job personalising their experiences online, and deeper personalisation leads to long-lasting customer relationships, according to 75% of business leaders in Singapore who agree.
- Customer well-being and sentiment are reshaping CX
Unfortunately, businesses still struggle to understand customer emotions, and many have made efforts to improve customer well-being without much payoff. For example, 69% of customer service agents in APAC say their organisation's overall CX often causes customers to behave in negative ways. In particular, companies have not made strides in tracking emotional data in a more formal way, with only 24% of leaders and managers in APAC saying that customer sentiment is used to personalise the experience a customer receives.
In Singapore, more than half (59%) of business leaders have indicated that they are not collecting enough customer data to personalise the customer experience, a sign that there are still gaps to be addressed. A negative experience with a company can cause real, lasting damage to customer relations, with 73% of customers in APAC stating they would switch to a competitor after multiple bad experiences. Three in five (60%) will look elsewhere after one unsatisfactory interaction.
- Integrated teams
CX leaders have become increasingly aware of the benefits of creating immersive experiences, and recognize that support functions are capable of driving revenue through customer data and feedback. In APAC however, businesses are slow to react - with only 19% of business leaders indicating their organisation was excellent in sharing customer data across teams.
In Singapore, only 16% of business leaders are developing a single view of customer data, and only 26% have indicated data-driven decision making as an operational priority. As budgets across the region shrink, businesses will need to change the way they think about CX, and rethink the role customer service plays as a revenue driver. Most businesses are already embracing this shift - 70% of leaders in APAC who view their service departments as cost centres say their service department could be a revenue driver, and 61% of business leaders in APAC have plans to merge teams and responsibilities around CX.