How companies in Southeast Asia are preparing for the future of customer experience
In the 10 years or so since customer experience or CX has been its own discipline, a lot has changed. The internet has gone mobile, customer journeys now span many online and offline touchpoints and a new era of contactless customer-brand interaction has now arrived.
But how well are brands keeping up with the changes? Are they struggling with new consumer expectations or are they driving the future of customer experience?
To find out, ClickAcademy, in association with Amazon Web Services, held roundtable discussions with client-side marketers in Bangkok, Thailand. At the Future of Customer Experience table, moderated by Eliza Koo, Head of Marketing, Wavecell, attendees discussed how they were getting prepared - and preparing their companies - for the upcoming changes in customer expectations.
Below is a summary of what was said on the day.
1) Management needs to understand CX is more than customer service
When defining what marketers need to do to prepare for the future of customer experience, participants agreed that one major obstacle to overcome was how people within organisations think about CX. Specifically, many executives still think that customer experience is the same as post-purchase customer service.
Marketers, said one attendee, need to educate people within the organisation that CX involves providing a consistent experience throughout the buyer's journey. While ensuring that existing customers are supported is important, it is only one part of the whole customer journey.
Moreover, marketers need to educate internally that improving CX will be valuable to the company as it will help the brand anticipate the demands of future buyers.
2) CX needs to be grounded in local culture
Another point made by participants is that what people consider to be good customer experience is often not universal; what works in the West may not work well in Asia. Furthermore, in Asia, consumers in each country have different expectations and so what works in Thailand may not be the best solution even for neighbouring Malaysia.
To prepare brands for the future of customer experience, then, marketers need to have a strong understanding of their markets so that they can provide a relatable experience for local consumers. Attempts to provide a universal customer experience across regions are unlikely to succeed for this reason.
3) Obtaining customer data remains an obstacle for improving customer experience
While attendees agreed that customer data was a vital component for CX improvement initiatives, many indicated that they struggle to get access to the data that they need.
At many organisations, attendees explained, each department uses different platforms for customer data and few companies have organised data into a singular customer view. The result is that marketers seeking to map and create the ideal customer journey are often blocked by internal processes and incompatible back-end systems.
While there were no easy answers to this issue, participants were optimistic that as more people in the organisation become aware of customer experience and its benefits, providing marketers access to customer data will become a priority.
4) The future of CX must be based on future customers
Finally, delegates addressed their biggest concern about the future of customer experience - future customers.
Marketers, one participant said, need to think about how their brands will target the next generation of customers and provide the customer experience that they are accustomed to. This means that brands which have flourished previously in the predominantly offline world will have to adjust to one which increasingly expects high-quality online services.
It will not be an easy change, but brands which are able to provide a seamless transition between online and offline experiences stand to gain customers and market share by putting in the effort to do so.
Marketers should, therefore, continue to emphasize the financial benefits of investing in customer experience so that they will get the internal buy-in they need to build their brands' future customer experiences.
A word of thanks
Click Academy would like to thank Eliza Koo, Head of Marketing, Wavecell for hosting the Future of Customer Experience table and Robert Killory, Principal Business Development Manager, AWS for providing subject matter expertise for the day.
We'd also like to thank all the marketers who attended the event and shared their experiences of preparing their brands for emerging customer expectations and some of the challenges they have faced along the way. We hope to see you at all future Click Academy events!