Singapore has a long-standing love affair with shopping. Many of the country’s malls built in the 1970s and 80s were pioneering in their day, and today the island state has more malls per square mile than any other country in the world. Recent years have seen a dramatic shift from in-person shopping to online retail with giants such as Shopee and Lazada becoming household names and COVID-19 lockdowns sending more people to the Internet for their purchases. However, a new report notes that while shoppers are moving increasingly online, many remain unhappy with the level of customer service they receive there.
In the latest LivePerson Customer Conversation Report 87% of Singaporean shoppers said they have abandoned an online shopping cart in the last 12 months because the right customer service option was not available. For online retailers, this is problematic; with the estimated cost of these lost sales a whopping $1.56 billion.
The LivePerson Customer Conversation Report surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in Asia-Pacific, including 502 in Singapore who were asked about their customer service experiences in 2020 including what has changed for them, and what they would like to see companies do differently or better.
A standout finding is that online experiences, especially around service options at checkout, have been letting retailers down noted Wee Tee Lim, Regional Manager at LivePerson.
“Online-shopping is increasing, but often customer expectations aren’t met,” he said. “Many times, this is because brands are not offering support to customers in the way they want. We found that many retailers are lagging when it comes to using modern technology such as AI to improve customer service. People are far more comfortable engaging with brands through new channels than many retailers think. They want answers to their questions in real time, wherever they are, and through whatever channel they prefer.”
Addressing customer needs now
The findings of the report show the importance of a well-functioning online customer service: While 79% of Singaporean respondents said that they have missed retail shopping either ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, less than one third of shoppers want in-person support when they have a question. It seems that even though people still enjoy instore shopping, online customer service is the preferred option.
LivePerson’s data also shows that Singaporean consumers are among the most unhappy with their customer service experience in the region. When asked specifically why they abandoned purchases at checkout, respondents said:
- 51% wanted to do more research before making a purchase
- 35% were unhappy with delivery details or options
- 33% were unhappy with the price
- 31% were not able to find what they wanted
- 29% felt they needed help to understand more about their purchase options
“Retailers that can deliver what their customers want and need now are the ones that will emerge from this pandemic in a stronger position,” continued Wee Tee Lim.
Interestingly, the need to improve communication with customers reaches beyond the retail sector. 55% of Singaporeans said the customer service of most companies could be improved. This has proved especially true during the pandemic, with survey respondents noting that:
- 39% haven’t been able to find the information they need from a company’s website
- 36% would avoid picking up the phone to speak to a company if they can
- 25% have been on hold for too long
- 23% weren’t able to figure out how to get in touch with a brand
What customers want
In today’s connected and online world, companies clearly have an opportunity to grow their customer base and sales by providing faster and more targeted customer support. When asked ‘which of the following should retailers provide more of’ people said:
- improving the range of communication channels available (49%)
- employing more locally based customer service agents that have local knowledge (48%)
- employing ‘in-line shopping’ (44%)
- using technology to allow questions to be answered in store by virtual assistants (35%)
- allowing shoppers to make purchases via social media and digital channels (35%)
- providing curb-side pickup options (24%)
“It’s still true that great customer service is driven by great staff,” says Mr. Lim. “However, automating simple or repetitive tasks frees up staff so they can have more detailed conversations with customers.”
The full LivePerson Customer Conversation Report can be accessed at LivePersonInsights.com.