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Businesses in Singapore that Prioritize CX are Expected to Recover Faster from the Covid-19 Pandemic: Zendesk Survey

Joint research by Zendesk and Ecosystm reveals that of the local companies that plan to decrease CX spend, 88% will only see recovery in the second half of 2021 or later

New research released today by Zendesk, Inc. in partnership with Ecosystm, shows Singapore businesses that prioritize customer experience (CX) investment are expected to recover faster from the pandemic.

The research surveyed 100 senior business leaders across all sectors and of varying organization sizes in Singapore to better understand their CX challenges and initiatives in 2020, as well as their expectations in 2021.

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According to the research, more than half (56%) of the respondents who indicated an expectation of growth by mid-2021 also considered improving CX as a top business priority. This suggests businesses that have placed a strong focus on CX are expecting to accelerate their growth and pandemic recovery. Additionally, businesses increasing CX spend during the pandemic, 88% are enjoying the benefits including early pandemic recovery, unaffected business and even improved their business during the challenging times.

“2020 has been a year of change, and as we look forward to 2021 with companies preparing for recovery, we are seeing that investment in CX will be a differentiating factor to help businesses remain competitive. Organizations should assess the experiences they are providing their customers and identify the opportunities to make them even better. Those who are able to quickly and effectively implement a strong CX strategy will not only survive this pandemic, but thrive in the long run,” said Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, APAC, Zendesk.

Tim Sheedy, Principal Advisor, Ecosystm, added: “The research shows there is a link between having a business focus on developing CX and success. Businesses that take CX seriously are recovering faster because they are offering better experiences and building agile businesses, which enables them to respond better to challenges and adapt to evolving market conditions.”

An Emerging Two-Speed Economy in Singapore

The research shows signs of a two-speed economy emerging in Singapore, in that businesses investing in CX are projecting early recovery, while companies that drop CX spend are seeing slower recovery timelines. Of the local businesses that plan to decrease CX spend, 88% will only see recovery in mid-2021 or later. Comparatively, of businesses increasing CX spend during the pandemic, 88% are reaping the benefits; most expect early recovery by mid-2021 (58%), while others were unaffected (20%) or even improved their business (10%) during the pandemic.

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CX Spend is Up, Omnichannel is In

When businesses adopt an omnichannel approach for CX, they are able to create connected and consistent customer engagements across channels. However, only 14% of local businesses were able to offer fully-fledged omnichannel experiences. Fortunately, more Singapore businesses are aware of this and are focusing on increasing CX spend in 2021, with omnichannel capabilities as a top CX priority. The research shows that 50% of Singapore businesses increased their CX spend in 2020, and this number is expected to rise to 69% in the next year. On top of that, more than half of the businesses (57%) say that 2020 has changed their CX strategy to shift a stronger focus to digital and omnichannel experiences.

CX Maturity is a Competitive Edge

CX maturity is emerging as a strong competitive advantage as Singapore businesses increase spend to invest in high-level CX capabilities. Based on the research, 40% of those increasing CX spend see omnichannel and digital experiences as a competitive advantage compared to those decreasing CX spend (25%). Businesses focusing on CX are more likely to use that experience to drive customer loyalty. Meanwhile, businesses decreasing CX spend are focusing on other priorities such as price competition – which is easy for competitors to copy.

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Best Practices for Singapore Businesses To Stay Ahead

For Singapore businesses looking to set themselves apart and accelerate recovery from the pandemic, the research identifies three key best practices to adopt:

  • Prioritise a digital strategy, but don’t forget about data – To implement a successful digital strategy, it requires the trifecta of technology, people and processes. It is encouraging to see that close to half of Singapore businesses (46%) are already prioritizing staff training, as it is important for support agents to fully understand and leverage the technology they have on hand. However, without the right technology investments, businesses will not be able to provide personalized and optimized CX. Organizations in Singapore lag behind in this area, with only 30% of businesses focusing on improving CX technologies. Additionally, just 26% of businesses are prioritizing creating a data driven culture, which may hinder them from reaching maximum CX potential.

  • Focus on building agility – Agility is helping those focused on CX to get and stay ahead, while those with less of a CX focus are trying to catch up. Specifically, CX agility is a top business priority in 2021, as Singapore businesses see it as key to delivering the outcomes that customers and businesses desire. Local businesses increasing CX spend stand to gain better business and customer advantages, such as continuous business improvement (66%), while those decreasing CX spend are still leveraging agility to respond faster to market threats (69%) and save money (63%). This means businesses that understand the importance of CX are focusing on building a sustainable business for the long run, instead of taking a reactive approach with quick fixes that are easily replicable.

  • Integrate advanced CX capabilities – As customer expectations continue to evolve, businesses need to advance their CX technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, to create meaningful customer experiences. The research shows 42% of those expecting early pandemic recovery are also investing in AI and machine learning as a CX priority, while only 22% of those expecting later recovery are doing the same. In addition, many businesses are expanding AI and machine learning technologies beyond specific use cases to be applied across many CX business priorities, such as providing recommendations for customer service agents (46%) and customer data analysis (33%).

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