This is what one study of the Asia Pacific region has distilled from the data of a conversational cloud vendor.

Interesting fact: Singapore has more shopping malls per square mile than any other country in the world.

However, a new report notes that while shoppers are moving online, many remain unhappy with the level of customer service they receive in the digital domain.

The report from conversational cloud firm LivePerson asserts that 87% of Singaporean shoppers said they had abandoned an online shopping cart in the last 12 months because the right customer service option was not available.

For online retailers, this is problematic; with the estimated cost of these lost sales a whopping S$1.56 billion. The report was the outcome of a survey of more than 3,000 consumers in the Asia-Pacific region, including 502 in Singapore, about their views on e-shopping and what they would like to see companies do differently or better.

A standout finding is that online experiences, especially around service options at checkout, have been letting retailers down, noted Lim Wee Tee, Regional Manager, LivePerson. “Online-shopping is increasing, but often customer expectations aren’t met. Many times, this is because brands are not offering support to customers in the way they want. We found that many retailers are lagging when it comes to using modern technology such as AI to improve customer service. People are far more comfortable engaging with brands through new channels than many retailers think. They want answers to their questions in real time, wherever they are, and through whatever channel they prefer.”

Key findings

The report about customer sentiments indicates the importance of a well-functioning online customer service. The incidental data shows that Singaporean consumers are among the most unhappy with their customer service experience in the region. When asked specifically why they abandoned purchases at checkout:

  • 51% wanted to do more research before making a purchase
  • 35% were unhappy with delivery details or options
  • 33% were unhappy with the price
  • 31% were not able to find what they wanted
  • 29% felt they needed help to understand more about their purchase options

“Retailers that can deliver what their customers want and need now are the ones that will emerge from this pandemic in a stronger position,” continued Lim.

Some 55% of Singaporeans said the customer service of most companies could be improved, with survey respondents noting that:

  • 39% have not been able to find the information they need from a company’s website
  • 36% would avoid picking up the phone to speak to a company if they can
  • 25% have been on hold for too long
  • 23% were not able to figure out how to get in touch with a brand
  • 29% felt they needed help to understand more about their purchase options

What customers want 

When asked ‘which of the following should retailers provide more of’, respondents indicated:

  • improving the range of communication channels available (49%)
  • employing ‘in-line shopping’ (44%)
  • using technology to allow questions to be answered in store by virtual assistants (35%)
  • allowing shoppers to make purchases via social media and digital channels (35%)
  • providing curb-side pickup options (24%)

Lim concluded: “It’s still true that great customer service is driven by great staff. However, automating simple or repetitive tasks frees up staff so they can have more detailed conversations with customers.”