With the acceleration of digitisation over the last two years, our entire world is now connected by uninterrupted, hyper-personalised experiences. In fact, our lives are peppered with frictionless, customised moments and experiences. This led to changing expectations, an evolved social compact between customers and businesses, and growing demand for personalised engagements. 

Businesses have urgently looked towards digital transformation as they move to optimise engagement interactions and improve customer-facing experiences. 

While some businesses might find this transition tricky, it’s proving to be a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs and startups in this new age of Disruption. Compared to established businesses, the startup DNA allows for ease of incorporating digital transformation practices swiftly. The natural adaptability of entrepreneurs makes the adoption of digital transformation easier to process. Furthermore, startups are unlikely to be encumbered with legacy operations and systems. 

We look at the role of the cloud in improving customer experience in the finance sector

That’s why all startups should take advantage of this opportunity to accelerate their digital transformation efforts so they can be ready for the Age of Customer Obsession. 

Critical question to consider: Is your business customer-centric? 

Today’s customer engagement journey is not linear and neat, and your startup’s ability to navigate complexity will test the limits of your organisation’s customer-centricity. Is your business ready to adopt new ways of making sure you ‘follow’ a customer thoroughly — from awareness to conversion and beyond? How are you making sure to fully maximise customer lifetime value?

From Deloitte to KPMG, research has unanimously shown that customer-obsessed companies are more successful. According to our proprietary data from work being done with the Infobip Startup Tribe, organisations that have shifted their focus to meeting customer needs first have experienced an 80% increase in revenue. 

As is, startups are in a strong position to embrace modern digital practices and ahead of more entrenched companies to address customer obsession. Let’s look at how digital transformation can help with that. 

Rapid and nimble data-driven decisions with a full overview of the customer

The Great Digital Acceleration has helped data and analytics become more visible in the world of business. Many startup decision makers are turning to advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to modernise existing applications while quickly and more efficiently harnessing customer data. 

Incorporating AI into business models will provide access to huge volumes of big data that can drive key decisions — such as holistic 360-degree customer profiles. With the right technology, startups can connect insights from all online and offline sources — this includes websites, apps, contact centres, customer interactions, enterprise resource management, to loyalty cards, and payment systems. AI allows the integration of these disparate sources of data and intuitive modelling to unlock a full view of customers.

With access to these valuable insights, startups can operationalise customer obsession and prevent the user journey from becoming fragmented and impersonal.

Singapore-based Beam&Go is an example of a startup that has successfully harnessed AI and data to unlock growth opportunities through heightened customer obsession. The payment and digital marketplace empowers migrant workers by giving them control over how their remittances are spent by their families back home. They currently serve over 286,000 users – including OFWs from Singapore, Hong Kong, the UAE and more, as well as their beneficiaries, connecting them to over 8,000 locations, services, and products across the Philippines. 

Connecting users across this huge footprint was a challenging task. Beam&Go were facing multiple knock-on effects, such as long customer response time, lack of proper data centralisation, and multiple siloed customer communication platforms. They needed a robust solution that would help them deal with their multiple challenges and future-proof their communications down the road.

By implementing a contact centre solution and an AI-fuelled omnichannel communication strategy – via Live Chat, Messenger, or WhatsApp – businesses can help guide new and existing customers through the customer journey. With a unified customer data platform, Beam&Go was also able to segment their customers all over the world for personalised email campaigns. 

As this unified omnichannel customer communication approach led to a seamless journey, Beam&Go experienced a 100% increase in agent response time, optimised email marketing campaigns by 22%, achieved 300% higher click-through rates for promotional campaigns on Viber, and cut overall operational costs by 30%. 

Omnichannel experiences are table stakes today

Today, more than 50% of consumers expect to receive a customer service response within 60 minutes. Accelerated digitisation also means that they want equally speedy response times on weekends as they’ve come to expect on weekdays. The always-on engagement imperative means that startups that are not switched on 24/7 all year round can now be at a disadvantage to rivals that may have more efficient operations in place. 

Customers no longer dwell on a single channel. In fact, Microsoft researchers found that 66% of consumers used at least three different communication channels for customer service – visiting points of sale and websites, leaving feedback through mobile apps, and asking questions for support teams on social media. Using technology solutions to combine these interactions, it’s possible to create full digital profiles for customers whenever they interact with your business. This will help startups provide significantly more immersive experiences.

Carsome Group, Malaysia’s first tech unicorn and Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform for buying and selling used cars, was looking to optimise its customer service and lead generation process. To elevate the car buying and selling process, the digital native company introduced a new service to “Buy Cars” in addition to the existing “Sell Car”. 

However, the new service came with its set of communication challenges, including the loss of leads due to a lack of presence on customers’ preferred channels, decentralised customer query platforms leading to agency inefficiency, and cumbersome customer verification and expensive authentication process.  

To provide end-to-end solutions to their customers and used car dealers, Carsome needed an omnichannel customer-obsessed experience strategy to effectively engage potential customers and increase sales. With a chatbot building platform, Carsome was able to automate customer communications on their preferred channels – web, Live Chat, and WhatsApp. The platform helped engage web visitors in real-time, automate FAQs, and solve simple queries with a keyword chatbot. By deploying a digital-first contact centre, Carsome was also able to seamlessly connect customers to agents for more complex queries. Beyond improving customer interactions, direct engagements also received updates as SMS-based alerts and user security functions were rolled out to make the verification process seamless.

The adoption of an omnichannel customer experience strategy optimised the the entire user journey. This led to quality leads, quicker conversions, and higher sales for Carsome. Notably, it has helped Carsome provide a truly pioneering digitised car buying experience.

The domino effect of customer obsession  

Although customer-centric digital transformation could begin with addressing just one facet of a startup’s operations, its benefits can be far-reaching for employees, consumers, and stakeholders. It can limit the mundane tasks required of workers, offer greater levels of personalisation for clients, free up new skills to be developed in other areas of a business, improve employee morale and productivity, and positively impact organisational culture.

Often, we see that such transformation, when implemented right, will build a growth mindset and lead to a more positive and virtuous work culture. This will keep teams engaged and invested, and nurture an environment that values fresh ideas and new perspectives. 

Connecting with the startup ecosystem 

ASEAN is home to one of the most exciting startup ecosystems in the world. As funding and accelerator programmes re-emerge, startups have a great opportunity to adopt new approaches, technologies, and tools to future-proof the business with customer obsession.

This article was contributed by Vivien Ang, Regional Manager APAC, Infobip

About the author

Infobip’s Regional Manager APAC, Vivien Ang is the driving force behind the company’s operation and business expansion for markets under her leadership. Since joining Infobip in 2020, Vivien plays an important role in delivering each of Infobip’s innovative products and enabling connected partnerships with household brands in the market. Her strong leadership and multi-industry experience has achieved strong performance results for the Asia Pacific region, which include Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Vivien’s highly resourceful and energetic attributes have created seamless digital interactions between businesses and their customers, consequently leading Infobip to achieve great overall client satisfaction and excellence.

Vivien holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.