Retail in Asia


Opinion: What customers want in 2024

When it comes to the main drivers of buying decisions in 2024, consumers across Asia are prioritising product quality and excellent customer service over cost, according to findings in the latest 2024 Consumer Experience Trends Report from the Qualtrics XM Institute. 

For retailers looking to succeed in 2024, this finding highlights the critical importance and value of being able to truly understand what customers are thinking and feeling, alongside the types of services, products, and experiences they want. Because when retailers deliver against what their customers want and need, they are rewarded with revenue growth, market share, and consumer loyalty.

SEE ALSO: Staying on top of Southeast Asia’s fast-growing economies: 3 trends for businesses to look out for in 2024

For retailers looking to make sense of what matters to their customers in 2024, there are five trends to prioritise.

Human connection remains the foundation of great customer experience

Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of consumers across Asia still opt to engage with brands through human channels, such as in-store and the contact centre. Some of consumers’ biggest concerns with how brands use AI to automate interactions is that there will be a lack of human connection in their customer experience, their personal data will be misused, and the belief people will lose their  jobs.

In today’s digital world, and as people’s comfort levels with new technologies evolve, the key to building connections with customers is understanding when and where they want to use digital channels and AI services in their customer experience, and where they want a human to step in. Right now, our research shows people are more comfortable engaging with an AI-powered service for transactional tasks like checking an order status or booking an airline ticket, and less comfortable with the idea of using AI for more complex engagements, such as troubleshooting issues.

Give customer-facing employees a better employee experience

Customer-facing employees are pivotal to the quality of a retailer’s customer experience, with organisations offering great employee experience often achieving higher levels of revenue growth and profitability.

Despite this, Qualtrics XM Institute research shows employee satisfaction and morale is lowest among customer-facing employees in Asia — especially when it comes to happiness with pay, satisfaction with career development, and trust. To address this issue, retailers need to better enable and support customer-facing employees by understanding their unique needs.

Source: Shutterstock

For one of the world’s leading apparel brands, improving the employee experience led to more satisfied and loyal customers — at stores with above average NPS sales were almost two times higher than the average across the company. Using customer and employee feedback, the organisation was able to identify how the key to driving positive customer experiences was ensuring employees were well trained, understood expectations, and received frequent manager feedback. These insights allowed the brand to confidently and precisely focus its efforts and investments to meet the needs of both its customers and employees. 

Prioritise quality and service over price

In many countries across Asia, product and service quality and customer service support is more important to consumers than price. For retailers, this heightens the importance of being able to understand and meaningfully respond to customers’ needs, and to enable employees to meaningfully respond to their expectations.

Respond to evolving customer behaviours

While companies might be focused on better understanding the needs of consumers, the reality is fewer customers are sharing feedback directly with companies, such as through a satisfaction survey. Consumer feedback habits are evolving across Asia, and we now see feedback shared across direct and indirect channels, including online reviews, on social media, or through the contact centre.

The most successful retailers are finding ways to capture, analyse, and respond to feedback in all the places it’s now being shared — both direct and indirect. For example, a global grocery retailer is using advanced machine learning to analyse social media data shared by customers, helping the chain to understand what is important to customers at a given moment. With these timely, in-depth, and authentic insights, the grocery retailer is able to better connect with its customers by providing tailored services and experiences.

Improve the digital experience

Improving the digital experience is one of the most impactful steps retailers can take to improve their overall customer experience. Customers are more likely to return when they have great digital support, yet Qualtrics research shows customers are less likely to be satisfied by their digital customer support experience, compared to human support.

When you consider 70 percent of companies say digital channels contribute at least 40 percent of their revenue, improving the digital experience will make a significant impact on the bottom line. 

SEE ALSO: Established consumer product brands continue to thrive in Asia, despite growth in emerging brands

CX: The strategic advantage

In 2024, customers will seek retailers able to deliver high-quality customer experiences, support, products, and services aligned with their needs and preferences. As a result, understanding what matters most to customers and enabling employees to effectively serve them in the moment is more important than ever before. And those retailers that maintain this people-centric focus are set to achieve a significant advantage that delivers growth, loyalty, satisfaction, and share of wallet for years to come.

This piece is authored by Moira Dorsey, principal XM catalyst at Qualtrics XM Institute.