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Singaporean consumers still prefer human interaction even in the digital age: study

Adrian M. Reodique | May 30, 2016
Accenture underscored ways for organisations to rebalance their digital and traditional customer service channels.

Majority of consumers in Singapore (83 percent) still prefer human interaction to using digital channels to solve customer service issues and get advice (76 percent).

This is according to the report of Accenture titled "Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement" - based on the company's 11th annual Global Consumer Pulse Research - which polled 350 Singaporean consumers.

The report also discovered that 68 percent of consumers have switched service providers in the past year because of poor customer service with retailers, banks and Internet service providers being the worst offenders.

"Companies have lost sight of the importance of human interaction and often make it too difficult for consumers to get the right level of help and service that they need," said Alison Kennedy, Managing Director of Accenture Strategy in ASEAN.

"Companies wrongly assume that their digital-only customers are their most profitable, and that customer service is a cost. Consequently, they over-invest in digital technologies and channels and lose their most profitable customers - multi-channel customers - who want experiences that cover both digital and traditional channels," added Kennedy.

Consumers also highly valued in-store experiences, with 57 percent saying that physical stores are the best channel for getting a tailored experience, and half (50 percent) are willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving a face-to-face service than online.

"Singapore companies have reached a tipping point in their customer's digital intensity and need to rebalance their digital and traditional customer services investments if they want to improve loyalty, differentiate themselves and drive growth," said Kennedy. "Companies abandon the human connection at their own risk and are facing the need to rebuild it to deliver the varied and tailored outcomes that customers demand."

Additionally, more than half (76 percent) of the respondents become frustrated with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them. In essence, 74 percent expect customer service to be easier and more convenient while 69 percent want it to be faster.

More than half of the respondents (52 percent) also said that they will not return to the service providers they abandoned. However, the report found out that 84 percent of "switchers" feel the company could have done something to retain them while about 81 percent said that providing in-person customer service would have impacted their decision to switch providers.

In line, Accenture Strategy underscored ways organisations can rebalance their digital and traditional customer service channels.

First is putting human and physical elements back into customer service. Second is enable customers to easily switch channels to get the experiences they want. Third is addressing the most toxic customer experiences across all channels. Lastly is ensuring personal data security. 

 

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