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Digital Customer Service in Asia Sucks - But Does It Have To?

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It’s no secret that digital customer service in Asia is, more often than not, terrible. Trying to contact a business in Asia with an issue? You’ll likely be given a phone hotline, a form or an email address, and it’s anyone’s guess how many days it will take to get a reply and a solution to your problem. Very few businesses have support chatbots, WhatsApp channels or even an internal ticketing system to manage issues and report performance. These issues usually stem from two core problems - lack of technology adoption or insufficient training and customer support infrastructure.

The good news is that more and more businesses are recognising this, and local governments are also providing funds to help alleviate the financial cost of technology implementation. Things are improving, especially in the past few years with increased digitisation and software adoption - according to the 2022 Zendesk Trends report, “some 71% of customers” in the APAC region say they now have higher customer service standards after this past year’s crisis.

Could Your Business Improve Their Customer Service?

Here are a few quick questions to ask yourself to see if you’re currently providing industry-leading customer service:

  • Do you have a digital ticketing system which creates tickets automatically as issues are submitted by customers?
  • Do you maintain comprehensive reporting based on ticket pipeline, customer service rep responsiveness and customer support experience happiness?
  • Are you using an NPS collection of customer experiences with your customer support system and team?
  • Do you have FAQ and support resources to reduce reliance on the customer support team?
  • Do you have templated responses and chatbot qualifications to assist the customer support team?
  • Do you have multi-channel support availability (email, phone, WhatsApp, chatbot etc.)?

If you could answer yes to at least 5 of the questions above, you are doing well. Under three, it’s likely your customer service needs work and isn’t industry-leading.

How To Build a World-Class Customer Service Experience

Software Adoption & Integration

Software is an essential part of your recipe for success - without it, you will be relying on individual high-performers and constantly risking human error. Your customer service team can use these software systems (sometimes referred to as ‘Help Desk’ software) to manage issues and track everything essential for understanding what is and isn’t working in your business. Some businesses go down the route of developing their software for this, but this isn’t feasible for 99% of businesses. For the rest, here are some options with some pros and cons:

  • HubSpot Customer Service Hub: Decent range of features, quick/easy to set up and excellent customer support from the HubSpot team. Especially powerful when linked to your other HubSpot Hubs, so customer support has access to more information and integrations aren’t required.
  • Zendesk: Good integration support with other social and communication channels like Facebook and Whatsapp. Excellent language support for multiple regions. More challenging to set up.
  • Intercom: Great user interface and cool features like ‘snooze’ for notifications. 
  • Freshdesk: Nice interface and mobile app, fewer integration features than some of the other platforms. 

Support Availability

Having a responsive support team doesn’t mean having a large team in multiple time zones. Through clever use of automation and ticketing, you can quickly handle incoming enquiries during working hours and create priority lists for tickets that come through outside of office hours. Tracking ticket status and support engagement is key to understanding how fast you get back to your customers.

What does support availability excellence look like? HubSpot’s paid tier of software products has access to live customer support chat, or you can enter your phone number, and they will call you back within 5 minutes.

Support Training & Templating

Once your support team grows past one person, there needs to be a framework and templates for handling support enquiries. This not only improves the speed at which your customer support team can operate but also allows you to onboard new employees faster and easier.  Training support for your existing team on how best to use their software tools and optimise what they are already doing is vital. Often, management might not understand how best to use the newest tool features and what a gold-standard workflow or template might look like. For that - you will need professional support and consulting. 

Reporting & Optimisations

The best customer service systems are not built overnight, they are optimised over time. When starting with a chatbot, ticketing, WhatsApp integration and customer support phone/email, everything must be tracked to understand what is and isn’t working. Reports per support team member and for the company as a whole are crucial to making improvements to your system. Key factors to look at are usually team response time, individual response time, ticket stage duration (how long a ticket is set to waiting for a reply or to be resolved), customer happiness (NPS), and differences between different support channels (email, phone etc.).

Learn more
Laurent Ross

About the Author

11+ years of work in client and project management in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand - Laurent is uniquely qualified to manage campaigns which require a deep knowledge of both Western and Chinese digital systems.

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