Customers in Asia Pacific are becoming more empowered than before, and companies in the region must embrace two-way engagement to thrive.
That’s one of the key lessons I learned from a recent trip in Hong Kong, where I spoke with over 50 Vision Critical customers, partners and prospects at a half-day, morning workshop hosted at the very cool Collab Work Space in Wan Chai.
I had the opportunity to talk about the various factors empowering today’s customers, and what those shifts mean for companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Thanks to the wide adoption of the Internet, social media and mobile devices, customers now have access to more information, more choices and more opportunities to broadcast their opinions widely and loudly. This trend is about to accelerate in the region: Forrester Research is predicting that smartphone penetration across the Asia Pacific region will be at 36 percent of the entire population in 2015, with Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong leading the way. In the age of the empowered customer, many companies are struggling to attract new customers and retain current ones. Companies in Asia Pacific need to recognize the importance of connecting with their customers in an ongoing, two-way dialogue.
Through interactive sessions and panel discussions, I also learned what businesses in Asia Pacific are thinking about. Here are three key trends that stood out.
Enterprises that engage with customers are winning.
It’s always a pleasure to hear directly from the companies Vision Critical serve, and this event had plenty of representation from our customers.
In a panel session, Michael Wong, consumer insights manager at the CPG giant Nestlé, and May May Wong, the customer centric strategist at the loyalty rewards program Asia Miles, revealed how they use private customer communities to improve their business. Speaking about the value of harnessing collective wisdom, these customers shared the many ways they gain actionable insight through customer engagement.
The key message from these companies: customer centricity is alive and well in Hong Kong. For these companies, customer intelligence is the key source of better business decisions.
Customer intelligence is spreading deeper into the enterprise.
During breakout sessions, attendees discussed different topics about customer insight, including community branding, stakeholder engagement and decision-making through insight communities. According to attendees, the influence of customer research is spreading within organizations. Even companies that operate in industry where consumers mostly don’t have choice in their provider is actively engaging and listening, showing just how important the customer perspective is for all enterprises. Customer intelligence is having a real impact on how Hong Kong-based companies make decisions.
Marketing and market research professionals in the region need to break down silos. They need to openly share customer intelligence within the enterprise. In doing so, they can help their companies incorporate the voice of the customer into building better products, delivering better services and driving better business outcomes.
Customer empowerment is broadening its reach.
While many of the companies at the event were based in Hong Kong, many of them have broadened the discussion, indicating that they are looking to launch insight communities in Mainland China and countries in Southeast Asia. As many markets in the region grow, companies need to get closer to their customers to remain competitive. Customer empowerment is a global phenomenon, and companies are realizing that they need to listen to all their markets.
Customers in the Asia Pacific are becoming more empowered than ever before. This shift presents a big challenge for brands, but it also gives customer intelligence professionals in the region an opportunity to elevate their practice. Brands today, more than ever, need to increase brand affinity and drive customer growth and loyalty. They need the insight of the empowered customer. At the same time, customers are eager to share their thoughts, and they want a seat at a table. The time for customer intelligence to shine in Asia-Pacific is now.