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Freeman Cebu Business

Filipino consumers prefer human agents to chatbots

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Despite the shift of consumer behavior in the Philippines towards online-based transactions, Filipinos still prefer real human interaction than machine-motivated consumer service responses.

In a study conducted by Forrester Consulting as commissioned by global cloud communications platform, Infobip, revealed that interacting with human agents on the phone holds the top spot as the most preferred touchpoint of customer service (CX) or 42 percent followed by online live chat (33 percent) and social media (31 percent).

Having a human touch in hybrid experiences is pivotal in differentiating and improving CX.

The study suggested a strong correlation exists between the value of human agent interactions in addressing highly emotional or complex cases. When human interaction was selected for general customer service and complaint cases, a boost in CX was reflected in upswings of the CX score (from 3.37 to 3.63 for complaints).

The Philippines (3.9) sits between China (4.0) and Malaysia (3.8) in terms of CX score which is based on three key considerations when measuring CX quality - effectiveness, ease, and emotion.

In the Philippine post-pandemic era, phone support offered by human agents rose to 50 percent from 39 percent before the pandemic as the most preferred general customer service and support scenario for consumers.

Meanwhile, phone calls slid to 33 percent from 39 percent when it comes to preferred customer feedback and complaint channels, but advanced to 46 percent from 38 percent for pre-sales support. 

After the strategic planning of automation and human support placement, decision-makers will have to create a CX ecosystem that effectively facilitates collaboration and leverages on cloud-based environments to push the boundaries of CX.

Currently, there are four distinct personas among Filipino consumers that brands must consider in making sure that their CX strategies are tailor-fit for the local market.

These include affluent hybrid shoppers (45%) who use digital and human channels interchangeably, reserved high touch seekers (26%) inclined to human touchpoints, neutrals (17%) who remain hesitant to switch among touchpoints, and younger low-touch digital natives (12%) who opt for digital CX.

The study’s findings highlighted that a cookie-cutter approach in delivering superior CX is no longer effective when dealing with specific consumer personas, each with different needs and expectations from the businesses they interact with.

“To cater to the unique demands in customer experience, business leaders need to find the right balance in combining the deployment of both of digital and human touchpoints to improve the customer experience journey. The right technologies are also needed to complement this hybrid strategy to be able to take full advantage of the benefits that excellent CX can bring to the business,” said Charist Montenegro, Country Manager, Infobip Philippines.

Digital transformation acted as a springboard across several industries, especially in commerce where digital touchpoints emerged.

This trend was only bolstered by the pandemic, boosting demand for products and streamlining logistic processes.

In fact, in the Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is eyeing to grow the number of local e-commerce enterprises from 750,000 to one million by 2022.

This growth, however, faces new challenges in the form of providing support to improve customer experiences (CX).

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