• Benchmark report from Uniphore confirms call centres are a lifeline for consumers seeking support for COVID vaccines, travel, online shopping and more into 2021
  • Contact centres have yet to catch up with customer expectations almost a year into the global pandemic
  • More than half of Malaysians (59%) trust remote agents with their personal information; Indians and Vietnamese trust remote agents the most.
  • Local consumers (57%) preferred to speak to a live agent when reaching a company’s call centre

Uniphore, an early leader in Conversational Service Automation (CSA), announced results from its latest COVID-era survey that highlights significant challenges faced by both consumers and customer service centres. This includes noteworthy consumer frustrations and missed opportunities for brands to deliver a better experience while building trust and loyalty across Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Malaysia. The report also shows consumers have high expectations when it comes to customer experience and they are comfortable with new technology and humans delivering it.

Customer interaction expectations versus reality
Ravi Saraogi (Photo Credit: Times Business Solutions)
Call centres and customer experiences are a bellwether for consumer confidence and have become increasingly critical during the pandemic as an opportunity to build customer connections. However, 60% of local consumers find themselves feeling angry, frustrated, and annoyed while being put on hold when they contact a call centre; 56% of respondents in Malaysia said they waited more than 30 minutes to get a response. Furthermore, 21% of Malaysia consumers said they did not get their questions solved the first time when reaching out to a call centre.

Ravi Saraogi, Co-Founder & President (APAC), Uniphore said, “Contact centres are a lifeline for support on critical issues from healthcare to travel to commerce and one of the most powerful ways brands build customer loyalty. However, many consumers today still feel undervalued at the same time as call centre agents feel overwhelmed and under resourced. We have the ability to change this and empower call centre agents with technology and support that enables them to truly hear the voice of the customer and deliver personalised and impactful answers and support.”

Trust in remote contact centre agents
Almost a year into the pandemic, organisations across APAC have transitioned to remote working. This has led to businesses turning to the use of chatbots, interactive voice recording (IVR) and social media channels to communicate with consumers.

However, the survey data reveals that there is still a strong preference from local consumers (57%) to speak to a live agent when reaching a company’s call centre. In other words, this is the preferred method for contacting a company about an issue. Only 20% of local consumers prefer to interact with a chatbot as their first interaction, with about 10% of Malaysia consumers indicating that they will reach out to a company via social media.

With the massive and rapid shift to remote work, 59% of Malaysia consumers claimed they trust contact centre agents with their personal information while working remotely. The two countries who trust remote agents the most are India (74.5%) and Vietnam (75.4%), while Singaporeans trust remote agents the least at 37%.

Hearing the customer
It is clear that contact centre interactions present an opportunity for brands to build trust, loyalty and increase their customer base, but this is not happening for many brands. The disconnect between consumer frustrations with call centres, and the solutions companies are offering can be solved by automation technologies.

The survey results also showed that a growing number of consumers are open to trusting automation to improve their experiences with a company. 50% of local respondents who contacted a call centre expect some type of post-call follow up, while 58% would prefer an email.

With an increase in customers calling and a desire for more information from companies, agents will be overwhelmed by the amount of post-call work if they do not work hand-in-hand with their Artificial Intelligence (AI) co-workers. Malaysia is moving in the right direction, 43% of consumers in already feel comfortable if companies use AI technologies to help the customer experience, especially if the technology is assisting a human agent. Although when compared to India (78%), and Vietnam (72.5%), there is still much work to be done in Malaysia to better blend the human touch with machines working behind the scenes.

Survey Background
This survey was completed in January 2021. The survey was administered online and included a random sampling of 1,210 adults from across Japan and Asia-Pacific with representation across all age groups between 18 to 65+. Results were weighted to represent the overall population.