Today's Asian Consumers *DO* Demand Great Customer Service

I spent most of the 90s in Asia – Taiwan and Hong Kong – so I can say with some authority that customer service back then was pretty awful. True story: a clerk in a Watson’s health and beauty store (a Hong Kong version of Walgreens or Boots) once insisted my cousin-in-law buy a certain facial cream to get rid of her “ugly” freckles

Another time, a clothing store salesperson loudly advised my girlfriend-now-wife to avoid all sleeveless dresses because, he mansplained, her shoulders were way too broad.

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We never raised our voices in protest. There didn’t seem to be any point in complaining, when we could see much worse examples of customer ‘service’ all around us. Instead, we suffered in silence.

Today’s Asian consumers, however, not only have higher expectations than we did, but they are fighting back. 83% of Asian consumers would actively avoid buying again from a company that gave them bad service, according to findings from the Avaya Asia Pacific Customer Experience Survey Index released today. 83% would also actively advise friends and family members to avoid a company that gave them bad customer service. Meanwhile, 70% would buy more from vendors that gave them good service, according to the Index, which was created through a survey of 2,400 consumers in Asia by Australian customer service consultancy, Fifth Quadrant.

Some more interesting findings from the Avaya-sponsored survey, which is now in its 6th year:

Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines residents feel they enjoy the best customer service. 82% of Thai respondents said service had improved over the past year, followed by Indonesians and Filipinos tied at 79% agreeing that service had improved in the last 12 months. 

Singaporeans feel like they get the worst customer service, with 65% saying that contacting a customer service center is “always problematic” (versus 50% of Asia-Pacific residents overall).

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That stat was a thinly-veiled excuse to run this photo.

Face-to-face and telephone conversations remain the most popular way to deliver customer service (62% and 75%, respectively). But multichannel customer service is an expectation, with 75% preferring it today. 

Organizations have an average of almost 4 customer service channels today. Singapore-based companies fall below the mean, with just 3 channels per organization, while India, Indonesia, Philippines and Thai-based firms averaging 5+ channels per firm. 

Social media is fast gaining popularity, with one in five Asians having used it for customer service in the past 3 months alone. In Singapore, 1/3 of residents have used Facebook to contact customer service. Indonesia (40%) and Thailand (54%) notched the highest usage of social media regionally.

Social media is actually ranked the second-most preferred channel by consumers. Hospitality and tourism companies were the earliest adopters, followed by retail and wholesale, then healthcare, then government and education organizations.

Video has been used by 14% of Asian respondents to get customer service. Indonesia (41%) and Thailand (29%) led the pack. The biggest use of video is for consumers to update their customer details. 

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Above is an excerpt from an infographic you can download from the Index site. You can also watch a webinar with Fifth Quadrant’s CEO and Avaya Asia-Pacific’s head of Customer Experience Management, Meng Teck Tan, download the full report, or just read the report’s executive summary.