Human and automated engagement in the digital era
Growth, innovation and customer centricity have taken a front seat in strategy planning for modern brands. While all three are equally as important, since they help get brands on the digital bandwagon faster, customer centricity takes precedence since it allows brands to build engagement through direct interactions.
Back in 2015, Gartner predicted this would be a key trend and noted how, “the future of business is being led by customers.” Almost a decade later and it’s clear that consumers are the ones driving the strategies that brands develop. In fact, customers now expect outstanding digital and physical experiences across all brand interactions.
While this expectation is on a global scale, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region has its own take on customer engagement. According to our latest study – Redefining Human and Automated Engagement Human-Automated Impact on APAC CX – these customers have high expectations for their experience journeys with brands.
Customer centricity in APAC
The APAC focused study, deep diving into recent experiences of local, regional, and international brands, shares findings very different from other regions. The mix of developed and still developing socio-economies are the primary reason for the varying results from our APAC-wide CX study.
The CX scores, generally, are a yardstick measurement that determine how successfully a company builds customer engagement. The scoring ranges from 3.6 to 4.2 with an average score of 3.9 in the APAC region.
The following infographic explores each specific country in APAC, their CX scores and the top 3 customer service touchpoints in each respective location. While the differences are small, there are determining factors for each country that, when put together, makes these results unique to APAC.
One of the key findings from this new study is recognising how automation plays a pivotal role for businesses that want to elevate and scale CX with the best possible results.
But even as automation helped streamline processes and improve productivity, consumer demands are still not being met. In taking away human-to-human interactions, customer engagement became impersonal. As such, many customers have opted to connect back with live agents to address their queries with personalized assistance.
The need for balanced human-to-human and automated engagement is unique to APAC. More than half of the countries surveyed still prefer human interactions. Even with digital trends gaining considerable traction, with some APAC consumers getting more accustomed to self-service channels, many reverted to phone and live chat. Notably, brands still want to deploy chatbots at various touchpoints as per the slight growth – from 24% to 26%.
Brands must invest in scalable platforms that address these demands and have the means to address the hybrid preference that is now increasingly prevalent among APAC consumers. They must also look at how they can fully engage the top three preferred touchpoints for APAC:
- Over the phone
- Online live chat
- Social media
All three are the go-to channels for all types of sales support, including pre-/post-sales, customer services, general feedback, and complaint filing. Even more unique are the four new APAC personas that have been defined from this study:
- Affluent hybrid shoppers – comfortable with cross-channel interactions, either human or automated
- Reserved high-touch seekers – must have human touch in all channel engagements
- Low-touch digital natives – prefer digital communications only with humans or automation
- Neutrals – all communications must be through a single touchpoint, be it human or automated
These four, which represent the human and automated hybrid engagement at all touchpoints, are distinctive preferences for the APAC region. They reaffirmed how hybrid interactions are necessary for brands to build meaningful user engagement that will impact decision-makers.
Notably, these personas are derived from how consumers in APAC want to interact with brands. The differentiating factors that define a customer journey are what brands must focus on. This includes tailoring their strategies towards hyper-personalizing the entire CX journey.
Take digital banking as an example. According to Forbes, digital transformation for banks that started a decade ago is now experiencing high acceleration rates in the last 18 to 36 months. This long-time digital shift, aimed at changing how people bank, is now a critical need for financial institutions as their customers expect every touchpoint to offer a user experience that is both seamless and friction-free.
Customers expect to be able to bank any way they please, anywhere and at any time. As is, interoperability will become a major demand as this is a form of personalization that consumers now expect. Moving forward, banks – and brands across all verticals – must continuously adapt to the changing needs of customers. This fits nicely with the customer-centric trend that is now rapidly taking hold as a focal point for businesses.
The need for that human connection over digital channels show how hyper-personalized hybrid engagements are necessary. When applied strategically, they can take the customer journey to the next level. As is, this finding had been reported in many other CX and consumer studies over the last year.
How does it work out for a digital communication platform like Infobip? As customer engagement is our key objective, advocating the need for improved user interactions makes it one of the main focus areas for the team. Case in point, the omnichannel and software-as-a-solution offerings that Infobip provides have helped various businesses across the world to expand their brand footprint, improve customer engagement and security capabilities; and support revenue growth.
The emergence of these four unique APAC personas clearly shows that brands must focus on customer-centricity and remain on the lookout for new changes in consumer trends. While not easy to track, these factors will influence current and upcoming user engagement strategies.
With this new study on CX trends, Infobip APAC aims to get brands up to speed on how they can better engage their target audiences. This directly addresses a major point of concern that McKinsey highlighted recently on how many organisations have failed to see how improving CX delivery can create value.
Brands that accelerate their ongoing digitization efforts now can quickly grow their personalization capabilities and be better positioned to connect with a wider audience, reinforce their relevance, and boost market leadership.