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Rethinking Customer Engagement in the New Normal – Takeaways from AIBP Focus, 6 Aug 2020

Business leaders globally are grappling with the repercussions of the pandemic brought about by Covid-19. Foremost on their minds is how customer experience has evolved as a result of changing social conditions and hence, customer behaviour. 

In a Bain and Facebook study on the growth of digital consumer behavior during the COVID19 period, 47% of consumers in Southeast Asia decreased offline purchases due to lockdown restrictions, while 30% increased their online spending. Consumers have made dramatic shifts to online during this period, with 84% being 1st time users of digital apps.

These habits stick - 9 out of every 10 first timers would continue using e-commerce, food delivery, digital payments apps when COVID-19 is over. That means more work for brands since there is a need to reach their customers across multiple channels now.

This sets the tone for our recent AIBP Focus group discussion, co-hosted with Twilio. Gathering business leaders from the retail, e-commerce and the logistics scene in Indonesia, we dived into the pressing issues faced by businesses across the supply chain and discussed how omnichannel communications, security and automation technologies can help maintain customer confidence and loyalty.

Priority for Digital Transformation in ASEAN - Omni-Channel Integration
(Interesting point to note: In the 2019 ASEAN enterprise survey, multi channel customer communication was ranked the bottom of the list by business leaders on their digital transformation priorities. For this session, we polled the Indonesian participants about their current priorities and 100% of respondents ticked Omnichannel integration as their urgent priority - a vast contrast from last year!)

Snapshot of the challenges raised during the roundtable:

Traditional brick and mortar firms: Online initiatives (e-commerce, customer engagement, etc) used to be a “good to have” silo projects, however, overnight these initiatives have gotten the spotlight as tools to keep the business going. Questions that these businesses had to address were ones of survival, How can the business be moved online fast? How can communications with customers be kept open, and at the same time having a personalised touch?

Grocers: With the surge of online shopping, real-time communications have become most stressful for the sector. How can communications be kept consistent and transparent across channels for customers to get real-time updates on their transactions, delivery slots, etc.? How are we able to integrate the information into our fleet operations (Own fleet & partner fleets)?

e-Commerce: The pandemic has driven up the demand for services, but will the business be able to continue to sustain volume growth consistently, even after the pandemic is resolved? (Note that current online volumes are only 5% of Total Retail sales) How can we personalise our campaigns and keep this group of customers?

Logistics: Customers expectations are changing and are more demanding. (If you are able to track a shipping container, wouldn’t it be easier to track a pencil or a packet of rice?) All stakeholders - retailers, fleets, and customers - expect to have full visibility of their operations. How can logistics providers provide transparency, keeping up with the demand and fulfillment in real-time?

Moving forward: Turning challenges into opportunities

With everyone working hard to provide a meaningful customer experience, below are some of the common themes echoed by our participants:

  • Every customer interaction is critical

Customer engagement cannot stop. Case in point: From bigger brands like Matahari, iLotte, Kawanlama, to digital-focused firms like OLX Indonesia, Qoala, investments into technology that can provide a personalized experience with multichannel touch points with customers become key. Starting from their existing base of customers, many of them have launched digital loyalty programs, implemented new campaigns with multiple communication tools for sales representatives to continue serving their customers. 

  • Leveraging partnerships within the ecosystems should be a central strategy

On top of going directly to customers (own website), retailers can tap on marketplaces, new business models/ partnerships for customer acquisition and fulfillment purposes. Relying on partnerships and multiple channels, businesses can scale more effectively. Integration from payments, fulfillment, delivery, become important here to ensure seamless customer experience.

  • Safety first is the new customers' priority

In order to secure consumer trust and confidence, it is a necessity for businesses to prioritize automation and self-service technologies like contactless delivery, cashless payments (HappyFresh demonstrated success in scaled investments of the past few months). Coupled with the convenience factor, the change in customer behaviour will stick.

Scaled communications in engaging customers
(This slide by Twilio nicely summarised how scaled communications is important in engaging customers along their journey!)

AIBP Focus is a series of discussions held online which brings together a focus group of ASEAN stakeholders to discuss topics related to enterprise technology adoption in the region. Drop me a note at sueyuin@industry-platform.com if you are keen to be involved in our subsequent sessions. 


By Asia IoT Business Platform | August 7th, 2020

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