Zendesk, Inc. released new research in partnership with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) that shows how companies in Asia Pacific (APAC) investing in customer experience (CX) are reaping the benefits. The study found a clear link between organisations with more mature customer experience capabilities, and improved business success in areas such as market share, increased customer spend, and pivoting processes over the last six months. Organisations in India stood out against their APAC counterparts across multiple fronts, reporting the most bullish business trends. Two-thirds (67%) grew their market share in the last 6 months alone despite the turbulent period, and 35% reported a significant increase in customer spending during the same period.
The new report, CX Champions: How CX Leaders who raise their game are driving business success, surveyed more than 1,000 CX managers and leaders globally – of which 250 were from Australia (N=64), India (N=69), Japan (N=57) and Singapore (N=60) – to better understand their investments in CX. From the research, ESG developed a CX Maturity Scale that segments organisations into three tiers of customer service maturity, based on seven key characteristics that cover how organisations use their support teams, technology and data to drive better performance. The three maturity categories are: Starters, which exhibit zero to three of the seven characteristics; Risers, which have four to five of the characteristics; and Champions, which have at least six of the characteristics in place.
Key findings from the report show that companies in APAC that invest in CX yield significant benefits, including:
- Faster growth: Even during the pandemic, APAC Champions were found to be 10.8 times more likely than Starters to have significantly grown customer spend – the highest amongst Champions globally including North America (8.7 times), Europe (7.3 times) and Latin America (6.5 times).
- Increased market share: The region’s Champions were 4.4 times more likely than Starters to have grown their customer base over the past six months, compared to Champions in North America (3.9 times), Europe (3.6 times) and Latin America (2.3 times).
- Senior-level support: Champions also secured greater investment and support from senior leadership within their organisation. For example, senior leaders at CX Champion organisations were 4.2 times more likely to see customer service as a differentiator than Starters.
“The pandemic has been a catalyst for organisations to transform in order to sustain and grow their business. Our new research with ESG confirms the clear link between a focus on customer experience and business success. In fact, the business impact of investing in CX is even more pronounced in APAC than in any other regions,” said Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, APAC, Zendesk.
“The accelerated shift to digital means customer expectations has never been higher, and the pressure is on for organisations to respond. The new reality is that delivering exceptional customer experience has become a business imperative for any organisations looking to future-proof their operations.”
Adam DeMattia, Director of Custom Research at ESG, said, “Our research identified a clear connection between CX excellence and business growth. Companies that are at the Champion stage of the scale not only see better outcomes in traditional service metrics, such as resolution time and CSAT, but they’re also experiencing positive business outcomes in customer spend, retention, and board-level support of CX as a business priority.”
Less than a quarter of companies in APAC are at the top of their game – but Indian companies lead the pack
The research found that companies in APAC were at varying stages of CX maturity. While most organisations are identified as Starters (48%) or Risers (30%), with significant room for improvement in their customer experience, 22% of businesses in APAC identified as Champions, offering shorter response times, positive customer experiences and greater agility to respond to customers’ needs.
Among APAC countries represented in the research, Indian organisations lead in maturity with 43% of respondents’ organisations being categorized as Champions (relative to 25% of those in Australia, 13% in Singapore, and 0% in Japan).
“The Indian government has made great strides in driving digitization across the country, which has spurred digital transformation across industries and among consumers. As organisations in India continue to navigate the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic, it is encouraging to see them recognize customer experience as a key strategic growth driver. Our research with ESG confirms the proven potential that CX investments have in reaping significant benefit to business growth, and we hope these insights offer businesses in the early stages of CX maturity more clarity in their path to success,” said KT Prasad, MD and RVP Sales, India & SAARC at Zendesk.
Taking a closer look at Indian organisations, the report also found that:
- Organisations in India (39%) were the most likely to report their remote work transition has gone very smoothly, since the country went into a state of lockdown post March.
- 45% of the respondents in India expect a significant increase in CX investment at their organisations over the next 12 months. This is a significantly higher proportion of respondents than in Australia (9%), Japan (5%), and Singapore (13%).
- Indian organisations were well-poised to manage customer profiles, with 41% of respondents rating their capabilities as market-leading as compared with 13% of Australian respondents and 21% of those in Singapore.
- Indian companies appeared to have the most sophisticated channel toggling capabilities, as 58% report this capability is seamless for their agents.
- Indian organisations are positive about their agent efficiency with 49% of respondents rating agent efficiency as either ‘strong’ or ‘market-leading’, second to Australia (58%).
- The majority of organizations surveyed in India (51%) were better report that their service and support team is viewed as a competitive differentiator.
Performing under pressure (and in a pandemic)
Reflecting on the first half of 2020, when companies globally had to rapidly transition to remote working, Champions were able to easily pivot to enable customer service and support agents to work from home. In fact, Champions in APAC were 14 times more successful than Starters at pivoting to remote work. Over half (56%) of Champions reported the shift to remote working as smooth, while over half of Starters (52%) say the transition could have been better or has been tough.
“Our results show that CX Champions were not only better positioned to manage the transition to remote work, but they also continued to drive positive customer experiences throughout the pandemic. Champions are four times more likely than Starters to report exceeding customer satisfaction (CSAT) targets,” added Johnstone. “While the future remains uncertain and unpredictable, it’s clear what organisations need to do to stay ahead – increase their ability to be more agile, invest in CX, and always be ready for constant change.”
To prepare for the future and adapt to unforeseeable economic and societal disruptions, CX teams in APAC are putting the processes in place now and those leading the pack are feeling significantly more prepared for ‘what’s next’. Champions are 17.5 times more likely than Starters to be very confident in their organisation’s ability to handle future disruptions.
Five lessons from Customer Champions
For businesses aspiring to move to the next stage of the CX Maturity Scale, the research calls out five trends that are consistent among Champions:
- Building a culture focused on CX, driven from the top down: Champions agreed more strongly that CX is a critical business priority. They also have greater involvement from senior business leaders with over a third of Champions in APAC reviewing CX Metrics with C-Suite executives on a daily basis – 7.8 times more likely than Starters.
- Don’t forget your people: Service and support continue to be an area of focus among leaders, with agents at Champion organisations in APAC receiving an average of about a day of additional days of training per year than Starters.
- Data-centric support delivers: Champions place a focus on KPIs and metrics to guide their support decisions. In the APAC region, 74% of Champions state their KPIs can be reported in real-time.
- Automation and AI is making an impact: Responding to the increased volume of data and rising customer expectations, 43% of Champions in APAC make use of automated methods of building and updating cross-channel customer profiles. AI tools, such as automated chatbots, are also making an impact on support performance.
- Investing in CX success: When asked about plans for the next 12 months, nearly three-fifths (59%) of Champions in APAC expect their organization’s spend on CX tools and technology to increase significantly, versus just 7% of Starters.
“As we see the trend that Champions are taking the steps to invest more in their tools, team and processes for CX success, Starters not only have the challenge of catching up to their competition in customer service, but also ensuring the gap doesn’t widen,” added DeMattia.
“To make these gains, it will be critical for leaders at lagging organisations to make the most of their budgets by learning from their more mature peers and investing in the areas that can drive the greatest impact on their CX maturity.”