Singapore’s midsized and enterprise companies lag behind their regional counterparts in making the right CX investments to reap maximum benefits, says a Zendesk study.

Companies in Asia Pacific (APAC) that have continued to invest in their customer experience (CX) over the past year are 10.3 times more likely to have maximised their resiliency during the pandemic, and 4.7 times more likely to have grown their customer base in the past six months.

This is according to new research released on 18 October by Zendesk, Inc  in partnership with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG),

Their study The 2021 State of CX Maturity Report also found that only 21% of midsized and enterprise companies in Singapore feel they have made the right CX investments to increase business resiliency, trailing behind other markets such as Australia (28%), South Korea (28%) and India (64%).

“Organizations across industries, sizes and life cycles are realizing that the customer service function is no longer a cost center, but a revenue driver, and our research with ESG confirms this. In fact, it also found that the connection between CX maturity and greater business growth and revenue remains most pronounced in APAC a year on,” said Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, APAC, Zendesk.“Today’s digital-first economy has made the customer service function the hub of all customer relationships, which is why continuous innovation and investment in CX must be a business imperative for long term success and growth.”

2% increase in the number of Champions

The report surveyed more than 3,400 CX decision makers globally – of which 921 were from APAC – to understand the characteristics and benefits of CX leadership. ESG built a CX maturity scale to identify common patterns and behaviors that separate high-maturity CX organizations – what ESG calls the “Champions” – from three levels of less-mature ones: “Starters”, “Emerging”, and “Risers”. The report outlines what businesses need to do to move up the maturity scale.

The research found that the number of Champions within midsized and enterprise companies in APAC has increased from 6% to 8% since 2020, with India (16%), Australia (12%) and Singapore (9%) having the highest proportion of Champions. The greatest gains in the region were tied between India, Australia and Singapore, which all saw a 6 percentage point increase from 2020.  However, Singapore experienced the fastest growth, increasing the percentage of Champions by three times in the past year, up from just 3% in the past year.

“The findings indicate that the shift to digital and remote work during the pandemic served as a trigger for companies to accelerate their adoption of new technologies, policies and processes to benefit from a higher CX Maturity,” added Adam DeMattia, Director of Custom Research at ESG. “Across APAC, Champions recognize that service excellence can be a differentiator, and are actually accelerating investment in CX projects.”

CX maturity and the benefits of increased customer satisfaction

According to the study, there also continues to be a clear correlation between improved CX maturity and the benefits of increased customer satisfaction (CSAT), faster response times, and effective customer service. Notably, the study also calls out the connection between CX maturity and greater business growth and revenue.

Other key imperatives for CX Maturity that the research identified include:

  • The vast majority of respondents in APAC (90%) agree that CX innovation is required to protect their business from competitors. In Singapore alone, 42% of mid-sized and enterprise respondents strongly agree with this sentiment.
  • Agent turnover, technology, flexibility and wellbeing all emerged as areas of investment and focus for teams over the course of the past 18 months. This led Champions, in particular, to move quickly to implement tools to support overwhelmed service teams.
  • Investments and process changes made by APAC Champions in the early stages of the pandemic include increased utilization of public cloud services (66%); more flexible remote work policies (64%); expanded mental health/wellbeing initiatives (64%); more flexible working hours (60%); and the adoption of new collaboration tools (60%).
  • Globally, Champions are three times more likely to prioritize delivering conversational customer experiences that can build deeper customer relationships. In APAC, Champions unanimously agree that pivoting to a more conversational experience with customers is a key goal for their teams – signalling the shift away from transactional service focused purely on resolving tickets.
  • Organisations in APAC have increased the number of service channels year-over-year from an average of 7 to an average of 7.8.
  • Many anticipate that preferences and changes will continue to shift as well: 73% of APAC organisations predict that chat and social channels will be most used by customers in the future, up from 54% who say this is the case today.
  • Meanwhile, 57% of Singapore companies agree that chat and social channels are heavily used by customers today. This number is projected to increase to 72% in the next three years.