Malaysians businesses struggling with ‘always-on’ customers

  • Consumer loyalty in Malaysia is low at 21%, says Accenture
  • Customers prefer online service channels over traditional methods
Malaysians businesses struggling with ‘always-on’ customers

COMPANIES in Malaysia are struggling to keep pace with the increasingly ‘always on’ nature of their customers, their greater use of digital channels, and their growing acceptance of non-traditional providers, according to new research from Accenture.
Consumer behaviour and expectations are evolving rapidly, with nearly all Malaysian consumers (98%) using at least one online channel to learn about products and services, Accenture said in a statement.
The survey is part of Accenture’s 10th annual Global Consumer Pulse Research, which gauges the experiences and attitudes of 23,665 customers about marketing, sales and customer service practices, including 351 consumers in Malaysia.
“We found that almost every Malaysian consumer has moved online when they gather information and purchase products, yet many established companies are reacting too slowly to the needs of today’s ‘non-stop customers’,” said Accenture Strategy’s Asean managing director Alison Kennedy.
“Consequently, they are seeing both a customer exodus and a decrease in their revenue potential.
“While many companies have been chasing the opportunity digital brings, they have not addressed the root causes of the problems that are exposed when they don’t execute well.
“Companies have been focused only on ‘doing the same things better’ when these issues really require them to ‘do things differently’,” she added.
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Two-thirds of consumers (67%) report that the number of brands they consider has increased significantly over the past 10 years, and more than half (56%) believe they are more likely to switch providers compared with 10 years ago.
Almost all (98%) of those surveyed use at least one online channel when looking for a new service provider, and more than a half (60%) want more digital interactions from providers, Accenture said.
Less than half (49%) of consumers believe companies are very effective in using interactions on mobile devices to provide an enhanced and tailored experience for customer service and support.
Only 13% of consumers strongly agree companies are effectively converging digital, mobile, social and traditional channels.
“Today’s customer’s sense of loyalty to an existing provider is often eclipsed by a competitor’s personalised and tailored experience,” said Kennedy.
“Our research shows that some companies are opening the door to ‘non-traditional’ competitors who are often more willing to ‘do things differently’ and offer prospective customers more opportunities for customisation,” she added.
Only one in five Malaysia consumers (21%) feel very loyal toward their providers and are willing to recommend them to others.
At least eight in 10 customers (82%) have switched providers due to poor service experienced in at least one industry, more than the global average of 64%.
More than half (60%) are open to purchasing products and services offered by non-traditional providers, while 55% will consider making purchases through consumer-to-consumer channels for housing/accommodations, transportation or money lending.
Slow to react

Malaysians businesses struggling with ‘always-on’ customers

Many of the common consumer complaints and habits identified by the research have been ever-present for a number of years, indicating that many companies are not addressing the underlying issues effectively.
Failure to quickly resolve an issue continues to drive the switching trend, with little improvement reported over the past six years.
The top three Malaysia consumer frustrations for customer service are: Lengthy hold times (62%), not solving an issue during the first interaction (61%); and having to repeat the same question to multiple service representatives (61%).
The Accenture research also highlighted that more than half of Malaysia respondents (58%) have plans to buy less in at least one industry.
Despite high switching rates, the survey reveals a potential ‘switch back’ opportunity for companies, Accenture said.
More than half (58%) say they would consider returning to a previous provider. Top drivers of this trend include attractive pricing (56%), new providers failing to deliver (52%) and a superior product or offering (50%).
Analogue meets digital
Satisfaction with online customer service channels, including online text/ video chat, mobile applications, third-party review of websites or forums and social media, is relatively solid compared with ‘traditional’ channels.
Almost half of respondents reported that they are satisfied with online video chat (48%), as compared with 41% who were satisfied with traditional contact centre support, according to Accenture.
However, despite the relatively high levels of satisfaction with digital channels, adoption of these technologies by consumers as part of the overall channel mix has remained low due to several barriers, the company added.
These barriers include the lack of the right information provided by the channels, lack of trust in them, and lack of knowledge of how to access and use them.
Further, while most companies are aware of the value that digital brings, many have been slow to develop an overall strategy that incorporates these channels into their existing customer service offering.
“Many companies have suffered from two persistent customer service-related headaches that hindered profitable growth over the past 10 years: Chronically high switching rates and decreasing spend by their remaining customers,” said Kennedy.
“Companies that determine the right blend of digital and analogue channels to improve the customer experience can reap huge benefits by retaining existing customers while luring more than their fair share of new ones away from competitors,” she added.
To access Accenture’s latest global report and an interactive infographic with Asean insights and data from the Global Consumer Pulse Research, visit
Click the infographic below to enlarge.

Malaysians businesses struggling with ‘always-on’ customers 

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