By Sisca Margaretta
It comes as no surprise that consumers around the world are spending more time online because of the pandemic. We’re seeing some trends of higher expectations of online experience from certain regions, with consumers in Asia Pacific (APAC) emerging as the most demanding worldwide according to recent data from Experian’s Global Insights Report.
Over 70 per cent of APAC consumers have higher expectations of the businesses they interact with online, above the global average of 60 per cent. One in four APAC consumers also expressed that they would not wait more than 30 seconds before giving up on an online transaction, specifically when accessing their bank accounts. Speed, seamlessness and a thoughtful user experience are not merely nice-to-haves anymore, but a must.
At the same time, the pandemic has taken a toll on consumers’ emotional state, with consumers in APAC reporting some of the highest levels of emotional challenges (in the form of stress and anxiety) across the globe. It is important for businesses to consider these changes in consumer behaviour to redefine and accelerate their transformation strategies to create a digital experience that responds to the changing needs.
How tech providers are setting the benchmark for a better customer experience
Organisations are addressing the challenge of redefining the online experience for customers, with 66 per cent of APAC consumers saying that the businesses they deal with have met their expectations. These consumers also feel that two-thirds of those businesses are currently providing a positive online experience. Yet, when we take a closer look at the companies that are doing the best job at interacting with consumers, certain sectors are doing a better job.
Consumers worldwide currently trust payment system providers the most for consistently providing a secure and convenient digital experience, more than technology companies. Interestingly, the reverse is true in APAC, with consumers placing more trust in technology providers, followed by retail banks and government agencies.
If technology providers are setting the benchmark for a better customer experience, it means that retail banks could potentially borrow some of these best practices in their digitisation journey. For instance, the pandemic triggered an accelerated growth in the use of digital banking, and many financial institutions are rethinking some of their previously manual processes. Those who can leverage data, decisioning tools and analytics to accelerate their transformation and redefine the banking experience for customers will be able to earn their loyalty and trust in the long run.
Customer loyalty not to be taken for granted
As businesses strive to create a positive user experience, they could reap the benefits of earning customer loyalty, as Experian’s research found that 41 per cent of those surveyed in APAC said they would give an organisation more business if they felt they were treated fairly during the pandemic.
That said, building customer loyalty is a marathon and not a sprint. At the beginning of the pandemic, many companies scrambled to set up remote workforces and develop new ways to support their customers amidst social distancing restrictions. What was initially “forced” upon societies has emerged to be effective new ways of working and living for many of us. That’s why in the long run, businesses need to consider the major shifts in consumer demand and behaviours to continue engaging customers in a relevant manner.
With more than half of APAC consumers anticipating that they will spend more online in the next three to six months, the survival of businesses depends on several factors: having a holistic digital strategy, and the agility to adapt to evolving customer needs.
Meeting consumers’ emotional needs is a must
Above all, a digital strategy is more likely to succeed if it considers the emotional needs of customers. Establishing an emotional connection is not new or different to what makes effective marketing or builds strong brands; it just has never been more important in these times. While the topic of mental and emotional wellbeing has been more widely discussed in recent years, COVID-19 has made it part of today’s conversation – and consumers today expect companies to respond to these issues too. Experian’s research shows that emotional concerns such as mental health, anxiety and stress have emerged as the top challenge for consumers on a global scale, followed by financial and physical health concerns.
This is undeniably a challenging and unfamiliar period for everyone, that’s what makes it an imperative for businesses to acknowledge and support their consumers online from an emotional perspective. A recent example would be how many companies held health webinars and shared mental health care tips with their customers for World Mental Health Day. Such initiatives open the door for organisations to connect with their consumers in a more personal way. 2020 might be a challenging year that has changed the way businesses and consumers think, behave and communicate. APAC businesses that can quickly adapt and invest in curating a holistic and relevant digital experience while showing empathy will have a head start in meeting the increasingly multifaceted demands of their customers.
Sisca Margaretta is the CMO at Experian Asia Pacific