All customers want is an answer; are businesses ready to respond? (The Business Times)

Singapore’s retail industry is undergoing its worst hit on record, with sales plunging by just over 40 per cent amidst this year’s circuit breaker measures. Even as restrictions have been lifted, retailers remain less-than-hopeful for the ‘revenge spending’ that many predicted at the start of the year. 

At the same time, with the pandemic driving everyone to e-commerce, customers now expect and demand more from brands online. They want quick responses and personalised interactions at every touchpoint. And they’re not afraid to take their business elsewhere if their needs are not being met.

The move away from physical stores to online, means one less channel to interact with customers, and with it, the loss of face-to-face engagement. But for savvy businesses in Singapore – blessed with a highly connected population – this is an opportunity to differentiate through the experience they provide. The opportunity lies in looking to new channels and digital tools to replace traditional physical interactions, and to find ways to engage and interact with customers all while adding value and being helpful.

Helping your customers find the answers they seek 

Today’s customers are curious. They’re spending more time online and are actively seeking answers and assistance. Here, 61 per cent of Singaporeans noted that chatbots will help improve customer service. That’s because self-service options, like FAQs or live chat on a company website, provide customers with faster answers that they can find on their own time.

While the chatbot is still a fledgling technology and adoption rates are just picking up within the region, the chatbot market is growing at a CAGR of 9 per cent in Asia Pacific — likely a reflection of the global shift online, with customers seeking new ways to engage with brands in the absence of in-store.

One option to support customer service departments is leveraging AI through the use of chatbots — which can be used to address basic customer support inquiries at any time of day. The efficiency and accessibility bots offer are helping conquer traditional challenges, like needing help outside of working hours or waiting in phone queues.

There are also features like lead routing in chat, which automatically directs customers to the right support representative or resource based on their question, providing a quick, personalised and relevant experience for customers. 

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The Business Times

2 November 2020

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