APAC contact centers, the smartphone factor
The modern consumer is more demanding and expectant than ever. Mobility has seen consumers evolve into “shopper swots” who research purchases online and prefer self-care to service center agent interaction. However, the trend is not just about demanding consumers – it’s also about opportunities for smart retailers and service organizations.
With over two billion mobile subscriptions, Asia Pacific is the world’s most dense mobile region. Smartphone and tablet adoption is growing faster there than anywhere else, and the region is home to the only country on earth with one hundred per cent 4G LTE penetration: South Korea.
Mobility is changing the retail landscape and the way people shop; according to Avaya, seventy-nine per cent of Asia Pacific consumers research online before buying or engaging. Social media and mobility now play a key role in the retail decisions in the region. As such, the traditional contact center model faces challenges: meet the demands of these better-informed mobile consumers while driving new business opportunities off this new method of engagement.
Asia Pacific mobile users are also comfortable with the prospect of technology causing work to intrude on their personal lives. Recent research indicates that Asia Pacific employees appreciate the greater flexibility and work-life balance that technology gives them – so much so that it even influences whether or not they will accept a job.
Consumers expect to be able to transact quickly, easily and wherever they choose. Recent research from RightNow has shown that up to eighty-nine per cent of customer churn is caused by poor customer experience, so the warning is stark – if you don’t engage with customers the way they want you to, they will go somewhere else.
As Haytham Sawalhy, Head of Customer Contact Services at Orange Business Services APAC, says, “Consumers today expect smart interaction, convenience, accessibility, speed and agility. When booking a trip, for example, people no longer want to spend a long time on a call with an agent; they want to use their mobile and get it done. The smartphone is reshaping the way customers operate.”
It presents service organizations with an opportunity to evolve – because customer service operatives are consumers, too. As Sawalhy continues, “Mobility has allowed customer service operations to empower agents and merge professional and personal, making them happier, less stressed and more productive in their work.”
Companies should embrace smartphone users to drive customer loyalty. “Smartphone users in Asia Pacific expect to transact quickly, to have access to other features like chat and virtual hold, and to upload photos or videos to contact center agents,” says Sawalhy. “Supporting this will enhance your customer experience, which means happier, more loyal customers – and the chance to sell them new products and services.”
changing nature of contact
The nature of the traditional contact center needs to change to keep pace with the demands and habits of the mobile consumer. Research from Avaya found that as many as seventy per cent of people claim they know more about a product or issue than their contact center agent. It found that customers want to engage online with their service providers, and the number of people who only get in touch with a contact center after having sought advice via their mobile device is increasing, too, as forty-four per cent of consumers claim.
As such, good, proactive customer service has become more important than ever. RightNow also recently revealed that twenty-five per cent of customers will pay more to enjoy a better customer experience, and Oracle found that twenty-six per cent immediately jump onto social media to tell their friends and peers about a poor customer experience. Mobile is driving the new way of engagement, and service-sector companies need to embrace it fast and build it into their business strategy for now and the future, or risk being left behind.