Businesses must demonstrate empathy to maximise customer satisfaction: KPMG partner
Guillaume Sachet, a partner at KPMG in Singapore, speaks about key trends and developments shaping customer experience, and what businesses need to do to retain customer loyalty and trust.
Guillaume Sachet is a partner at KPMG in Singapore’s Advisory practice, where he currently heads its Customer Practice. He has developed deep digital and customer experience expertise across the Asia Pacific region over the years and spent more than 20 years in Asia across many countries.
Sachet has more than 25 years of experience in the technology, healthcare, and life sciences sectors. He has held leadership positions at multinational corporations where he created strategies for digital transformation and innovation in social media, marketing, telecom, media, and technology for clients across Southeast Asia.
Sachet is a frequent speaker and writer and has contributed multiple articles and whitepapers on tech and innovation for various organisations and publications.
In an increasingly competitive business landscape, Sachet shared that businesses should find ways to display empathy in customer service to stand out from competitors. For example, even as a company digitalises its services, it can still cater to those who prefer a face-to-face experience.
“This can establish meaningful relationships with clients and add a personal touch to their brand, which will be a key differentiator as many services are looking to digitalise. Businesses will need to fully understand their customer base,” he said.
Sachet is part of the panel of judges for the Asian Experience Awards this year. As a judge, he shares his insights on how drivers such as ESG, digital transformation and consumer demand for personalisation have shaped the customer experience and what businesses can do to meet these changing expectations.
How do you think ESG compliance and sustainability initiatives will affect the brand and customer experience? How can businesses maximise these for customer satisfaction?
In recent years, the awareness of environmental, social, and governance values has been growing. This can be seen from how consumers are becoming more conscious about their purchases and opting to buy products that are sourced sustainably and responsibly.
To cater to and capture a large share of this group, businesses must make changes to their operations to ensure that the values of their brands are aligned across the three dimensions of ESG.
For example, this could include being transparent on where their products are sourced, the ESG efforts that the firm is planning to implement or making changes to their supply chain to ensure that the firm’s suppliers also have sustainable practices in place. It may also involve some tweaks internally, such as incorporating the ESG agenda into corporate social responsibility metrics.
Instead of being reactive to developments in the ESG space, businesses can also demonstrate foresight by staying ahead of their competitors and trialling new sustainable initiatives to show their commitment.
The latest technology trends such as AR, VR, and the metaverse are slowly transforming how brand and customer experiences are being delivered. How do you think these trends will affect the business landscape? What opportunities and risks do these trends provide?
In recent years, we have seen significant technology advancements, especially in the virtual and augmented reality space. Use cases for such technology have also expanded significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic, with it playing a critical role in replicating the digital experience to be as realistic as the physical one. These new modes of operations are here to stay as technology can indeed be an enabler for many goals such as improving productivity, reducing costs, and improving convenience for customers.
Given changing consumer behaviour and increasing technology adoption, it would be advantageous for businesses to find ways to expand their service offerings to different platforms to cater to the diverse pool of consumers. For those who want to stay ahead of the curve, this would mean setting aside funds for investing in new technology or even enhancing cybersecurity capabilities to give investors or customers peace of mind. They can also use technology as a bridge to explore new customer segments, such as the younger target groups that may respond better to online marketing efforts.
However, to ensure that the foray into new technology does not backfire, there are a few things that businesses need to consider. Instead of rushing in blindly, businesses should make sure that they are engaging customers at the right time. For example, to maximise reach, the company will need to ensure that the online platform or technology that is being tapped into is aligned with the target audience and business objectives. Ensuring that there is sufficient infrastructure to support these new ventures is also key.
Not all customers appreciate having a fully digital experience, and some may even prefer having a human touch. Having a human touch is a chance for businesses to display empathy and demonstrate how well they know their customers. This can establish meaningful relationships with clients and add a personal touch to their brand, which will be a key differentiator as many services are looking to digitalise. Businesses will need to fully understand their customer base and find a good balance between the physical and virtual worlds to maximise customer satisfaction.
Various reports reveal that demands for a more personalised customer experience have drastically increased in the past years. How can brands deliver this? What strategies or tools can they utilise?
As online backend processes become more sophisticated, coupled with the growth of online services, businesses will now have new ways to track online customer behaviour and find ways to customise their product offerings to suit customers better. According to KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence Report 2022, personalisation is the leading driver for brand advocacy and loyalty in Singapore.
However, increased data collection will also come with greater expectations to ensure that products and services are tailor-made. To supplement the various backend tools and processes that businesses have on hand, they can also tap on their own research from public channels, such as social media, to further study changing consumer behaviour and how they can be preemptive to have first mover advantage.
To reduce the time spent on gathering and analysing these data points, businesses can consider tapping into tools such as Customer Data Platforms to help with the process. Such platforms gather information from various sources such as live chats and transaction data to piece together the profile of the average customer.
As a returning judge for this year’s Asian Experience Awards, what factors are you looking for in judging the winners?
Similar to last year, the winners of this year's competition must showcase innovation by consistently creating new and unique experiences for their customers whilst simultaneously working towards a clear goal.
However, we are introducing a new aspect to the selection process - brands that can show empathy towards their customers have a higher chance of success. By demonstrating a genuine desire to understand their customers' needs and personalising their products and services through the use of technology and data, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors. For example, hyper-personalisation allows brands to curate customised products for their customers, exhibiting empathy in the process.