FBC Board member Anissa Margono blogs “Asia is getting real with customer experience”

The best service can be felt but is not seen

As much as we love the possibilities with AI, AR and IoT – these cannot replace the personal touch in service. Not even if you attach it to a cute robot. Retail and hospitality players that are serious about maintaining their relationships with their customer base must excel in the human side of customer experience.

The Asian region has a unique opportunity to improve the future of consumer experience, and not – as western companies have done – get on the tech-bandwagon for the sake of pennies saved on lower headcount.

Customers see through automated sales tactics

Consumers in Asia are not only incredibly tech-savvy; they are to some extent used to being treated as a group, instead of as individuals. It would seem that this is the perfect market for things like semi-personal chatbot answers, but let’s not forget that the Asian consumer is changing. The millennial mindset is as prevailing in Asia as it is in Europe and the US. Especially European companies must realize that the Asian market is transforming.

While western companies seem to race towards a max level of automated sales tactics, it’s likely to be appreciated only in the low-spend bracket, if anywhere. As humans, we are hardwired to react to and forge bonds with, other humans, and this translates to the area of customer loyalty. You either compete on cost, convenience or client relationships – and your staff is the key to those relationships.

“The millennial mindset is as prevailing in Asia as it is in Europe and the US.”

More tech is not the answer

The tech that empowers staff will prevail over the tech that replaces staff in any brand with a luxury component, and brands should not be fooled into thinking the Asian market is any different.

As instagrammable environments and products, shareable experiences, ubiquitous product and service availability are becoming standard, the thing that sets a brand apart is how the customer-facing staff handles all those situations that robots, chatbots and AI still can’t. Humans are the magic ingredient, even in tech-forward Asia.

In the strive for unique experiences, nothing gets more unique than service tailored to my habits, wants and wishes.

“Humans are the magic ingredient, even in tech-forward Asia.”

Experiences are deeply valued in Asia 

From Japanese vending machine corners to Chinese fast-food chains offering biometric payment [https://outride.rs/en/paying-for-fried-chicken-with-the-face-a-journey-around-the-biometric-landscape-in-china/], humanless shopping experiences is a proven fact throughout Asia. But Asia is also the birthplace of things like the tea ceremony, Buddhism and meditation. Nowhere is the difference between convenience and immersive experience greater and more clearly appreciated.

The variation between different regions in Asia will, of course, be significant, but understanding that the Asian customer is used to a wide range of services, more tech-savvy than their Western counterparts and going through a major demographic shift that affects values and norms, will prove crucial for the brand that wants loyal customers.

Solution: Tech-empowered personal service

As the digital customer journey gets more advanced and fine-tuned, the brand experience risk failing when the digitally savvy consumer meets a retail experience that has mostly stayed the same since the ’80s.

At the rate businesses are signing on for chatbots, robot greeters and in-store screens, the novelty will wear off quicker than call centre sales and banner ads in the eyes of the customer. The brands that resist the urge to remove their human staff from the retail experience, but instead use tech to enhance the personal touch and empower their staff, are the ones that will come out on top.

At PRE:MIND we believe your frontline staff need technology support to enable them to deliver on their full service capabilities. That’s why we focus on technology to support the personal side of service, rather than to replace it. Feel free to check out how it works [https://pre-mind.com/the-solution/].

Anissa Margono