Photo - Alison Kennedy, ASEAN managing director, Accenture Strategy.
According to new research from ICT services and consulting firm Accenture, Malaysian companies are struggling to keep pace with the increasingly 'always on' nature of their customers with their increasing use of digital channels.
Alison Kennedy, ASEAN managing director, Accenture Strategy, said consumer behaviour and expectations are evolving rapidly with nearly all Malaysian consumers (98 percent) using at least one online channel to learn about products and services.
Speaking of Accenture's 10th annual Global Consumer Pulse Research, which gauges the experiences and attitudes of 23,665 customers about marketing, sales and customer service practices, including 351 Malaysia consumers, Kennedy said: "We found that almost every Malaysian consumer has moved online when they gather information and purchase products, yet many established companies are reacting too slowly to the needs of today's 'non-stop customers'."
"Consequently, they are seeing both a customer exodus and a decrease in their revenue potential," she said. "While many companies have been chasing the opportunity digital brings, they have not addressed the root causes of the problems that are exposed when they don't execute well. Companies have been focused only on 'doing the same things better' when these issues really require them to 'do things differently'."
Kennedy said two thirds of consumers (67 percent) report that the number of brands they consider has increased significantly over the past 10 years, and more than half (56 percent) believe they are more likely to switch providers compared to 10 years ago.
Almost all (98 percent) of those surveyed use at least one online channel when looking for a new service provider, and more than a half (60 percent) want more digital interactions from providers, she added.
Less than half (49 percent) of consumers believe companies are very effective in using interactions on mobile devices to provide an enhanced and tailored experience for customer service and support, said Kennedy, Only 13 percent of consumers strongly agree companies are effectively converging digital, mobile, social and traditional channels.
"Today's customer's sense of loyalty to an existing provider is often eclipsed by a competitor's personalised and tailored experience," she said. "Our research shows that some companies are opening the door to 'non-traditional' competitors who are often more willing to 'do things differently' and offer prospective customers more opportunities for customisation."
In addition, Kennedy said that only one in five Malaysia consumers (21 percent) feel very loyal toward their providers and are willing to recommend them to others. At least eight in 10 customers (82 percent) have switched providers due to poor service experienced in at least one industry, more than the global average of 64 percent. More than half (60 percent) are open to purchasing products and services offered by non-traditional providers, while 55 percent will consider making purchases through consumer-to-consumer channels for housing/accommodations, transportation or money lending.
She said that many of the common consumer complaints and habits identified by the research have been present for a number of years, showing that many companies are not addressing the underlying issues effectively with little improvement reported over the past six years. The top three Malaysia consumer frustrations for customer service are: Lengthy hold times (62 percent), not solving an issue during the first interaction (61 percent); and having to repeat the same question to multiple service representatives (61 percent). The Accenture research also highlighted that more than half of Malaysia respondents (58 percent) have plans to buy less in at least one industry.
Despite high switching rates, the survey reveals a potential 'switch back' opportunity for companies, added Kennedy. More than half (58 percent) say they would consider returning to a previous provider. Top drivers of this trend include attractive pricing (56 percent), new providers failing to deliver (52 percent) and a superior product or offering (50 percent).
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.