Almost 90% of clients from Asia-Pacific companies expect faster service than they did five years ago, research shows, suggesting start-ups need to improve service delivery in order to remain competitive.
The BDO report, titled Service 2020: Megatrends for the Decade Ahead, is based on a survey of 479 business leaders in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific.
According to the report, 87% of clients from Asia-Pacific companies expect faster service than they did five years ago due to the increasing role of technology.
The advance in social networking and communication devices has caused customers to become more demanding about the quality and speed of service.
“Today’s need-it-now online society has sharply changed perceptions of customer service,” BDO national retail sector leader Eric Passaris says.
“Increasingly, customers don’t want it tomorrow – they want it now, with the same level of quality.”
StartupSmart identifies three ways of delivering faster service while still maintaining the same level of quality.
1. Mobile devices
Mobile devices are leading the way in changing customer expectations, BDO said in its report.
“By always being able to access any information, at any time, people will increasingly expect this throughout their lives… Customers expect to be able to get in touch with [businesses] 24/7,” the report said.
“By 2020, developed market firms may be learning new mobile tricks from their emerging market rivals. And, by then, mobile devices will also help change the in-store experience.”
“Most shops are largely transactional places, but over the coming decade their role will evolve. In part, they will become showcases: places for consumers to kick the tyres of a new purchase.”
BDO said Apple has led the way in this regard, opening hundreds of stores that provide a hands-on browsing experience by letting users come in and use the devices for as long as they want.
“More recently, the firm has removed payment points, instead simply enabling all sales attendants to act as till points wherever they are, using mobile devices,” it said.
2. Social media
“The near ubiquitous adoption of social media platforms in just a few years… has already had a multi-tiered effect on business,” BDO said.
“Their influence will develop and expand in the coming decade as social media replaces the press as primary consumer watchdog.”
“In turn, this is making firms more transparent than ever before, although just a quarter (26%) of survey respondents believe social media has improved customer relations.”
According to BDO, four in 10 firms surveyed already actively monitor social media for feedback on their service, while 30% use social media as a tool for enhancing client relationships.
3. Good employees
“While some industries have automated aspects of their service needs… good staff are far and away the most crucial element of good service,” the report said.
“Nearly seven in 10 respondents chose people as what matters most in delivering good service, well ahead of process (18%) and technology (14%).”
“Executives do see a shift in the future, with processes and technology becoming more important, but clearly recognise that… good employees are intrinsic to good customer service.”
The vast majority (82%) of firms believe that no matter what technological innovations are in the pipeline, customers will always expect some form of personal interaction in customer service.
“Of course, technology may well be an enabler here, to help automate some routine aspects of service, allowing service staff to focus on more complex interactions,” BDO said in its report.
“Firms see increased complexity as the number one challenge from a service perspective in 2020.”
“Indeed, in coping with this complexity, firms will need to work harder to attract and retain smart, well-trained employees – whether internal or external.”