Poor service threatens brands

29 August 2013
HONG KONG: Most consumers in Asia-Pacific have experienced poor customer service and are increasingly ready to place a greater value on this than on price, a new survey has said.

Verint, the analytics firm, surveyed 5,819 consumers across six countries in the region and found that 45% were so frustrated that they were willing to pay more to get better service.

This was particularly true in China (56%) and India (49%), with significant proportions expressing the same feeling in Australia (47%) and Indonesia (43%). Consumers in Hong Kong (37%) and Japan (34%) were least likely to be willing to pay a premium for better service.

Overall, only 23% of consumers valued price over service, indicating that a good customer experience is a vital consideration for brands. Wilson Chin, Verint's marketing vice president for Asia Pacific, described service as the "new differentiator" in a world where consumers had plenty of choice and disposable income.

"Asian consumers feel customer representatives do not try to help beyond their normal support guidelines and procedures," he said in remarks reported by the Economic Times. "Personalised support and finding creative solutions are still very much the exception," he added.

The survey identified the worst sectors for poor customer service as being telecoms, cited by 64% of respondents, and retail, mentioned by 59%. Financial services, utilities, hotel and travel all scored 51%.

Particular bugbears were staff taking too long to resolve problems (21%) and unknowledgeable staff that couldn't help (20%). Other factors included waiting too long to be served, rude or unfriendly service and inflexible procedures.

Brands can take some heart from the finding that more consumers in the survey said they wanted to share positive experiences (41%) rather than negative ones (31%).

And many (55%) will do so via online channels. Chinese consumers were most likely to use social media to do this (63%), followed by those in Indonesia (54%) and India (43%).

"The research points to an increasing propensity among consumers to share positive feedback, experiences and interactions," Ady Meretz, president APAC, Verint, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

"Companies that can proactively deliver a superior customer experience by listening and acting on the voice of the customer can gain competitive advantage in the market," he concluded.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff
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