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SE Asians most likely to be delighted with automated customer experiences

Consumers in Southeast Asia are among those most likely to be delighted by completely automated interactions with a company, according to Adobe’s latest research.

While personal service is still expected in this region, Southeast Asians are positive about well-executed automated interactions with brands. More than two thirds (68 per cent) of people in this region agreed that if done well, completely automated interactions with a company can delight them. Out of the eight markets surveyed, India and SEA were ahead in this regard, with four-fifths of respondents in India (79 per cent) agreeing to the same statement. Markets like the United States (63 per cent); United Kingdom, France (both 58 per cent), and Australia (57 per cent) were less receptive in comparison.

Consistent with the above finding, SEA consumers exhibited a preference for interaction with computers: SEA (45 per cent), alongside Japan (23 per cent), had the lowest per centage of respondents indicating a preference to interact with a human (versus a computer). This preference contrasts with prevailing attitudes in other regions, where more than half of respondents would typically favor human interactions. These findings indicate a certain level of comfort amongst consumers here, when it comes to the automation of everyday interactions.

The global index, which surveyed eight global markets, strives to measure consumer expectations and benchmark these against actual experiences delivered by businesses. The index also provides insights into consumer attitudes towards technology, automation, human interaction and future innovations. This was the first time the index surveyed the SEA market, with 1,003 adult consumers from this region participating.

Scott Rigby, Head of Digital Transformation, Adobe said, “The Southeast Asian survey data is encouraging for brands in this region as it underscores the receptivity of consumers here, towards the transformative impact that technology can bring to customer experiences. With a high mobile penetration across the region, the rate of digital adoption and transformation here is now unmatched. What we’re witnessing here is a unique opportunity for brands to experiment – as Southeast Asian consumers leapfrog through technology adoption stages, to become early adopters of technology advancements when it comes to brand experiences.”

Consumers rated potential customer experiences on a continuum from neutral (I would expect this) to strongly positive (this would delight me) and those scores were converted to a scale from 0-100. Southeast Asians are most impressed by futuristic innovations that would help them save time. They are most likely to be delighted by features such as government interactions that automatically update my address across departments (49); synced vehicle touch screens at drive-throughs (49); and smart stores with no check-out lines (48). SEA consumers are also most impressed with experiences that help to save hassle. Examples include the ability to have food delivered exactly where they are at a stadium or concert (53); using mobile apps to bring museum objects to life (51), and also as hotel keys and for check-ins (50). The findings suggest that brands in SEA should focus on innovations that help deliver quicker and more delightful customer experiences.

“We see immense potential for what brands can do to delight their customers through technology – whether putting autonomy in the hands of consumers to access self-directed interactions or enhancing brand experiences with technology. However, with the high expectations, organizations need to ensure that their innovation experiences are well-executed. They also need to prioritize the things that matter most to consumers in this region, such as saving them time,” added Rigby.

Although SEA consumers have seen an improvement in customer experience overall, when making purchases, consumer ratings toward customer service as well as their ability to anticipate needed information is lower across all industries. The biggest experience breaker for Southeast Asian consumers revolved around unexpected cost situations – in particular, marketplace sellers not having a returns policy (52 per cent), cancellation policy for travel purchases not being highlighted prior to online purchase (48 per cent) and hidden monthly fees (48 per cent). Brands in this region need to pay attention to their delivery of these aspects, to truly delight their customers.

Interestingly, Southeast Asia’s consumer expectations are higher among older consumers. Consumers over 50 are more likely to believe that brands know and respect them (60 index out of 100) and delight them (57 index) at every turn. The survey shows that business bottom-lines could be negatively impacted, if these expectations are not met.

Regardless, brands need to keep young people on their side as their reputation may be at stake. The 18-34 age group was most likely to complain to a friend (51 per cent) or a family member (48 per cent) about a bad online experience, compared with the 50+ group which was more likely to complain directly to the company in question (48 per cent).

As customer expectations in Southeast Asia rise steadily, the most successful brands will be those working hard to anticipate and meet the unique needs of their customers.