Designing Innovative and Effective Customer Experiences in APAC
Customer experience (CX) is critical to success in any industry. While a business may have many competitors with similar offerings, innovative and effective CX can set them apart and deliver value to their customers in unique ways.
According to a Zendesk report, businesses in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region that have continuously invested in CX are more likely to have maximized their resiliency during the pandemic and grown their customer base. Similarly, a recent Qualtrics report found that negative experiences result in about 4.7 trillion USD in lost consumer spending every year globally, with 11 billion USD lost in Singapore alone.
These statistics highlight how critical it is for companies to deliver on customer expectations. Failing to do so is not an option; a recent Salesforce report shows that 80% of customers now consider the experience to be as important as a brand’s products and services.
Common Mistakes Hindering CX Success
Across industries and markets, businesses often fail to recognize the unique and specific needs of their customers. There are two main reasons for this:
Getting It Out Instead of Getting It Right
Companies often prioritize releasing a product or service quickly, without adapting to local needs and preferences or doing extensive research and prototyping. Rather than charting their own course, many companies, especially legacy organizations, adopt traditional approaches to CX.
For example, in today’s increasingly digital environment, customer expectations are quickly evolving and becoming less predictable. To stay competitive, brands need to embrace innovation, pivot customer engagement strategies and develop new offerings at a faster pace. Often, however, existing digital channels that could be utilized for unique customer experiences are instead reduced to delivery due to rushed CX implementation.
Inside-Out vs. Outside-In CX Design
The inside-out approach to CX design means choosing strategies that are biased toward a company’s core competencies or predetermined solutions based on findings from competitor research and strategy work. Instead, companies should pursue an outside-in approach, where the starting point of CX design addresses the needs of users and customers.
For example, recent research shows that 74% of consumers prefer chatbots when they are looking for instant answers. Although chatbot implementation is growing, few are currently designed for two-way communications, and even fewer have artificial intelligence or conversational marketing technologies enabled, illustrating the gap between customer expectations and business offerings.
Three Methods for Designing Effective CX Solutions
To avoid these common mistakes and design more effective CX solutions, three key methods should be used in tandem:
- Creative Problem-Solving
Creative problem-solving is an alternative, customer-centric approach to CX that looks beyond the obvious to find open-ended solutions to users’ needs. To accomplish this, creative problem solving encourages fresh perspectives and innovative solutions for customer pain points.
In 2017, the product development team at Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) was tasked with developing a citizen-facing tool to consolidate all government services onto a single platform, LifeSG (formerly Moments of Life). The app enabled users to register the births of their children, access immunization records, navigate healthcare and childcare options and benefit eligibility, and apply for the Baby Bonus Scheme — a financial support program for parents.
With extensive collaboration, the “whole of government” approach saw many agencies came together to adjust their policies, processes and operations to enable better citizen experiences. Between 2018 to 2020, seven in 10 births in Singapore were registered using the app.
- Data-Driven Design
In the past, data has commonly been used to better utilize resources or track company performance. However, data can also play a role in informing and inspiring innovative CX design. Companies today have large amounts of quantitative and qualitative consumer data at their disposal, which can be used to create better customer experiences.
When Manulife, a multinational insurance and financial services provider, partnered with EPAM Continuum to create a more efficient and effective customer service center in Hong Kong, we utilized customer surveys and feedback to directly inform the space’s new design. Now, when customers need assistance, their experience is less “queue and transact” and more “guide and digitize,” resulting in reduced wait times, increased capacity and an improved overall customer experience.
- Measure & Optimize
Collecting data is easier than ever, especially when it comes to digital CX. For example, to understand how customers feel about a product or online help center, businesses can start with simple in-app customer effort score (CES) surveys, with participants prompted to rate their agreement to questions such as, “It was easy to find the support that I was looking for.” In combination with other straightforward surveys, like net promoter score (NPS), brands can access and analyze vast amounts of data about their customers’ preferences.
However, effective CX is about more than simply collecting data; it also requires optimizing each component of your ecosystem. For example, successful introduction of digital service channels, such as mobile apps and chatbots, should lead to a corresponding drop in call-center traffic as more customers embrace the new solutions. As businesses discover more about their customers’ preferences, they can more precisely optimize their offerings.
Putting the Focus on Customers
Digital is a key battleground in the world of CX, with significant opportunities for companies that can design great user experiences. However, the key to success will always be developing experiences that revolve around customers’ needs and expectations. Adobe’s recent study on digital trends highlights that only 25% of businesses in APAC have significant insight into the latest wave of digital customers. Delivering effective CX could ultimately mean being able to reach customers that your competitors miss.