Customer service gaps in contact centres hit APAC: study

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Bangalore: Significant customer service gaps in contact centres emerged across Asia-Pacific during the pandemic. According to the latest COVID-era survey, there are significant challenges faced by both consumers and customer service centres.

This includes consumer frustrations and missed opportunities for brands to deliver a better experience while building trust and loyalty across India and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. This is a clear indication of the customer service gaps in contact centres in the region.

Consumers have high expectations when it comes to customer experience and they are comfortable with new technology and humans delivering it, finds the report.

Customer interaction expectations versus reality
Call centres and customer experiences are a bellwether for consumer confidence and have become increasingly critical during the pandemic as an opportunity to build customer connections.

However, 83% of local consumers find themselves feeling angry, frustrated and annoyed while being put on hold when they contact a call centre. 54% of respondents in India said they waited more than 30 minutes to get a response. Furthermore, 16% of Indian consumers said they did not get their questions solved the first time when reaching out to a call centre.

“Contact centres are a lifeline for support on critical issues from healthcare to travel to commerce and one of the most powerful ways brands build customer loyalty,” said Ravi Saraogi, Co-Founder and President (APAC), Uniphore.

However, many consumers today still feel undervalued at the same time as call centre agents feel overwhelmed and under-resourced. “We have the ability to change this and empower call centre agents with technology and support that enables them to truly hear the voice of the customer and deliver personalised and impactful answers and support,” added Saraogi.

Trust in remote contact centre agents
Almost a year into the pandemic, organisations across APAC have transitioned to remote working. This has led to businesses turning to the use of chatbots, interactive voice recording (IVR) and social media channels to communicate with consumers.

However, the survey data reveals that there is still a strong preference from local consumers 40% to speak to a live agent when reaching a company’s call centre. In other words, this is one of the preferred methods for contacting a company about an issue.

Only 21% of local consumers prefer to interact with a chatbot as their first interaction, with only 11% of Indian consumers indicating that they will reach out to a company via social media.

With the massive and rapid shift to remote work, 75% of Indian consumers claimed they trust contact centre agents with their personal information while working remotely, alongside Vietnam (75%).

Hearing the customer
Clearly, contact centre interactions present an opportunity for brands to build trust, loyalty and increase their customer base. But this is not happening for many brands. The disconnect or gaps between consumer frustrations with call centres and the solutions companies can be solved by automation technologies.

The survey results also showed that a growing number of consumers are open to trusting automation to improve their experiences with a company. 58% of local respondents who contacted a call centre expect some type of post-call follow up, while 53% would prefer an email.

With an increase in customers calling and a desire for more information from companies, agents will be overwhelmed by the amount of post-call work if they do not work hand-in-hand with their Artificial Intelligence (AI) co-workers.

Interesting, 78% of Indian consumers feel comfortable if companies use AI technologies to help better the customer experience. Especially if the technology is assisting a human agent – compared to customers in Malaysia (43.3%), Indonesia (40.8%) and Singapore (20.89%). This is an indication that Indians are more receptive to the blending of the human touch with machines working behind the scenes.

This survey was completed in January 2021. It was conducted online and included a random sampling of 1,210 adults from across Japan and Asia-Pacific with representation across all age groups between 18 to 65+. Results were weighted to represent the overall population.

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