If your eCommerce business currently caters to Southeast Asia or you are planning to expand to this region, then the answer needs to be yes. In this post we discuss how you can provide great social customer service to get ahead and cut through all that competitive noise.

In our recent eBook, among other factors, we discussed how Southeast Asia is capitalizing on social media to increase exposure and revenues for eCommerce businesses. Today, we take a closer look into how delivering exceptional customer service over social media can become a competitive advantage in this region.

To do so, Nick Ogle is here this week with a guest post. Nick is an expert on all things social, specifically Customer Service. He is also the Director of Sales at Conversocial - a dedicated cloud solution that helps businesses to efficiently and securely manage customer service over social business channels at a large scale.

Social Media is emerging as a major force in customer service, and brands in Southeast Asia are uniquely placed to take advantage of this opportunity due to some interesting dynamics in this region. The commercial opportunity in Southeast Asia is growing for the brands prepared to invest the time and effort required, despite the challenges of doing social customer service correctly.

Quote from Jeff Bezos Amazon.com

Why Social Customer Service is Important

Consumers are embracing social for all types of communications. What is interesting is that these same consumers who like to interact with their friends over social have taken to interacting with brands en masse in the following ways:

  1. General references to a brand’s products & services

  2. Positive mentions of experiences with brands’ products & services

  3. Indirect references that are industry relevant

  4. Direct questions being asked of brands

  5. Comments expressing dissatisfaction with the brand

  6. Urgent product/service related questions

If your business has a social presence, chances are you’ve experienced at least one of these interactions with your customers. Consumers have more choice than ever before, are always connected and have high expectations for social customer service. So not only can consumers quickly switch brands, but they can also turn a bad experience into a viral one. In this era of the consumer, the customer has the power and brands must have the right processes and tools in place, to ensure positive experiences.

The Southeast Asian Opportunity

You might ask - how is this an opportunity as the internet coverage for Southeast Asia is still low? 

Internet Usage in South East Asia

What's important to remember is that this region is Southeast Asia is home to some of the most active internet users in the world. Some reports indicate that average users in The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia spend more than five hours each day online.

The infographic below, created by Edelman on Social Media use in South Asia in 2015 sheds some more light on the online behaviour of this demographic.

SEA Social Stats Edelman

Indonesia perhaps is the most connected in this region as it is number 3 in the world for Twitter use and number 4 for Facebook!

This doesn’t actually surprise me as I have witnessed it first hand. I have worked with a number of Indonesian online retailers and the amount of interaction they get from their customers on Facebook is staggering. So what do you need to know before actively offering social customer service to your customers in this region?

The Challenges of Social Customer Service

Social is a challenging medium to conduct customer service on as it’s inherently:

  • Noisy: Unlike other channels, agents must sift through a lot of content in order to identify customer service issues on social.
  • Confusing: Multiple public and private messages from a single customer are hard to track, and can get lost between agents.
  • A slow process: Lack of efficient approval workflows mean slow, rigid and manual processes with extra complexity when resolving an issue that requires involvement from other departments.
  • High stakes: A single error can result in a full-blown social media crisis.

Basically brands need to really look at the process, structure and metrics needed to properly conduct customer service on social. Once you open the gates for Social Customer Service,  the volume will follow. If you have flawed processes in the beginning, you will only find yourself in trouble. The added volume and engagement from consumers in Southeast Asia only adds to the challenge of getting it right.

To handle the volume of engagements on social, brands cannot afford to use the native tools supplied by the social networks. Instead seek to deploy business-ready engagement tools that have the following characteristics:

  1. Context: 

    Tools should have the ability to show prior interaction history. So if one person has tweeted multiple times then you should be able to see all of these tweets on the one screen of glass to give you more informed information on the tweeters outreach resulting in a more educated decision on how to respond.
  2. Prioritisation:

    Social media is full of noise, making it difficult to identify sensitive issues that matter to your organisation. Tools with built-in intelligence that allows priority issues to be escalated to the front of the queue for immediate attention.
  3. Asian language support:

    Tools need to be able to identify and prioritise the many non-English languages used in Southeast Asia. Look to see if the tool can handle Bahasa, Thai, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin or other Asian languages.
  4. Real-time analytics:

    Real-time analytics are key to continually monitoring the SLA & KPI attainment of agents as well as providing an early indicator for issues that might require involvement of other departments. Additionally, social customer service software should provide historical insights into trends over time to deliver actionable insights for brands.
  5. Security:

    Regardless of industry, comprehensive safeguards need to be in place to ensure information security and regulatory compliance. Look for software that provides role-based permissions, an approval workflow, IP locking and a fully searchable, exportable archive.
  6. Integration:

    In order to achieve a single view of the customer, it is vital to choose a social customer service software with a full set of APIs, which allows you to surface social information through your CRM systems and contact centre technologies.
  7. Proactive customer service:

    Brands using tools that only process @mentions are likely to miss service issues, or potential sales opportunities. A tool that provides proactive searches over social media will broaden your scope for engagement, meaning you don’t miss out on valuable conversation opportunities.
  8. Workflow:

    With the high incoming-message volume social brings, agents and managers need to work seamlessly to balance workload and avoid duplication of effort. Choose a social customer service software that enables you to add a layer of automation, providing a smart workflow for large-scale customer service teams, and empowering your agents to deliver better and faster social customer service.
  9. Expertise:

    Choose a social customer service partner capable of helping you implement a scalable operation that aligns with business requirements and industry best practice


The Commercial Opportunity

For the brands that get Social Customer Service right, there are some amazing rewards as outlined by McKinsey in a recent article entitled Social care in the world of "now":

  • Savings: It costs as little as $1 to solve a customer issue on social media, which is nearly one-sixth that of many call-centre interactions.
  • Satisfaction: Best-in-class social care companies improved customer satisfaction by 19 per cent, versus 5 per cent for all others. And 82 per cent of customers who have a good customer experience on Twitter are likely to recommend the brand based on their interaction.
  • Sales: Companies that developed social care capabilities improved year-over-year revenue per contact by 6.7 per cent through effective upselling, cross selling and customer-churn reduction versus a 12.1 per cent decline for those without that capability.


Facebook’s recent release of Messenger for Business will be an interesting product to watch as it is rolled out across Southeast Asia.  Consumers in Southeast Asia are already well versed in conducting commerce over Messaging applications like LINE and WeChat. With the huge impact of Facebook already in this region, I can see a tremendous opportunity for eCommerce across Facebook Messenger and the associated Social Customer Service opportunities.

In summary, there are some colossal opportunities for brands in Southeast Asia with Social Customer Service. The consumer numbers are huge and growing, they are very active on social already, and are well versed in shopping/buying on social. So all that’s left to do is for the brands to implement the processes and tools to take advantage of the market dynamics.

If you want to know more generic advice about how to start your Social Customer Service journey then the 2015 Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service is a great place to start your journey!   Also check out this podcast with some great examples of how to use Social Customer Service from a Commercial perspective - Cassie Roma talks social media for business where Cassie Roma from Air New Zealand talks about their strategies for Social customer Service.


About the author

Nick Ogle, Conversocial

Nick Ogle has over 25 years experience working in Information Technology across Asia Pacific. Nick is a regular contributor online on the topics of Social Customer Service, Fintech & Digital.

Currently Nick is working with leading Customer Service Vendor - Conversocial in establishing their presence in Asia Pacific.

If you have any questions for Nick, feel free to connect with him.



See Also:

Why you should grow your eCommerce business in Southeast Asia: an eBook

Instagram advertising is the next best thing