DR KARIPPUR NANDA KUMAR
Brands are often struggling to provide a quality customer experience in Singapore and rank low on all three-key metrics of emotion, ease and effectiveness, according to the Singapore 2019 Customer Experience Index by Forrester.
Digital Age is transforming consumer habits. Today's customers live and believe in an omnichannel world.
They browse in-store, shop online, ask questions through WhatsApp and share feedback on social media networks.
But most companies still force these digitally-savvy customers onto engagement paths that are shaped by legacy processes and conventional e-commerce tools and platforms.
So, it is not surprising that customers often rate such companies low on their digital customer experience.
Over 80 per cent of leaders and managers from over 200 organisations surveyed by S P Jain School of Global Management across Singapore, Sydney, Dubai and Mumbai over the past two years indicate Digital Transformation as their top priority for IT spending aiming to integrate digital technologies to deliver value to customers.
With the expected rise in such investments in digital technologies across the region, Singapore companies need to rethink their strategies for delivering positive customer experiences to survive and grow business.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer science fiction. AI has been around for over six decades, starting with rule-based systems.
With the continuous development of AI, developers globally have started integrating AI with other technologies such as Mobile, Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT).
Machines and Networks are getting smarter every day, and companies across the world have opportunities to leverage AI to innovate and significantly enhance engagement and customer experience.
Today, companies have access to a range of such integrated AI tools and platforms involving text analytics, machine learning, chatbots, virtual assistants, robotics, image recognition and natural language processing.
These technologies can help enhance human capabilities and are getting substantially better every year as data becomes more abundant and easily accessible.
World Economic Forum recently released a white paper to guide governments across the world in their development of a national strategy for AI. It provides a framework for governments to follow while formulating a strategy of national preparedness and planning to draw benefits from AI developments.
To start with, AI can help link various departments within a company such as marketing, commerce and supply chain to create a vastly more responsive and agile enterprise thereby optimising resources. Natural language processing and machine learning can help analyse customer sentiment and customer feedback.
AI could use data to dive deeper into every customer's behaviour and their purchase patterns to perform predictive analysis for driving better engagement at the right place and time. AI enables companies to provide an intelligent and convenient customer experience and customer journeys that are more personal and natural.
Intelligent predictions and customisation can make customers feel as if every product, service or brand experience was tailored just for them.
We can expect to see the first digital banks operating in Singapore by 2021, as recently announced by MAS.
However, the demand for personal interactions in financial services likely remains high. There is an opportunity to introduce sentiment analysis and other AI-driven initiatives to change the ways the digital banks interact with their customers and provide personalised services.
AI will also be able to help customers keep their accounts more secure by recognising patterns based on past transactions and behaviours detecting any fraudulent activities much quicker than previously possible.
Another example of an area where customer experience can improve substantially is in the area of healthcare. With an ageing population, healthcare professionals and the infrastructure are likely to face challenges.
AI can bring important benefits to patients in areas such as diagnosis, finding the most effective treatments, telemedicine to achieve what is known now as personalised or precision medicine.
The advent of AI offers a very promising future for customers. Advances in AI creates tremendous opportunities for smaller companies in Singapore to understand and serve customers around the region and effectively compete with larger companies.
Dr Karippur Nanda Kumar is Professor and Area Head (IT) at SP Jain School of Global Management, Singapore.