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How the Covid-19 pandemic is redefining customer loyalty in Singapore

Sisca Margaretta, chief marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Experian, says it is crucial that brands treat their customers right and remain transparent about how their personal data is being used and protected.

Brands in Singapore have been struggling to take their relationship with consumers to the next level. It seems that many consumers suffer from commitment issues, expressing their openness in trying new brands instead of sticking to one. According to Criteo’s Why We Buy survey last year, 78% of Singaporeans have no brand loyalty and expressed their willingness to try out new brands across all product categories. 

However, the pandemic is causing a shift in Singaporean consumer behaviour. Recent data from Experian’s Global Insights Report – the first large-scale study of its kind assessing the impact of Covid-19 on consumer and business behaviour – showed that more than half of consumers in Singapore are staying with the same online service providers as prior to Covid-19. 

In addition, more than a third of consumers in Singapore said they would give an organisation more business if they felt they were treated fairly – courteously, honestly and without bias – during the pandemic. With revenue generation being especially critical for businesses during this period, it is crucial that brands treat their customers right by providing them with regular and useful updates, whilst remaining transparent about how their personal data is being used and protected. 

Communication is key 

With more consumers working and playing online, we are already seeing an increase in online spending. South East Asia will be home to 310 million online consumers by year-end, which is now five years ahead of an earlier 2025 projection, according to research conducted by Facebook. It is no surprise that 66% of Singaporean respondents in Experian’s survey have higher expectations of their online experience and want useful and timely updates from organisations.  

Data from the latest GlobalWebIndex report shows that TikTok and Twitch users approve of and expect brands to address Covid-19 on those channels. A staggering 93% of these users want brands to provide practical information on how to deal with Covid-19, albeit with catchy music and choreographed dance moves as the backdrop.

The efforts put into more frequent communication are paying off, with 40% of APAC consumers indicating that businesses are putting more information online to help them solve challenges, and that they are receiving more helpful communications during the pandemic.

In Singapore, there has been an increase in consumers noticing both the upward trend of communications from organisations and the authorities, as well as the faster turnaround time from customer service representatives. For example, the daily WhatsApp messages sent from Gov.sg have been lauded as a brilliant example of clear and consistent messaging since the beginning of the pandemic. The dialogue and exchange of information goes both ways. Experian’s data found there was a slight increase in the number of consumers in Singapore who are willing to share their personal and financial data with organisations they trust. 

Making consumers feel secure

As organisations rely more on digital interactions with their customers, they need to ensure complete transparency to how personal data is being used and protected. Security continues to be the most important dimension for consumers when it comes to their online experience. More are expressing their desire to have greater control over their personal data, especially when it comes to online banking and e-commerce. 

The good news is that both businesses and consumers are willing to work together to make digital interactions more secure. Consumers in Experian’s study expressed that they feel most secure using specific authentication methods, such as biometrics, identity data from mobile wallets, and behavioral biometrics. Organisations in Singapore are recognising this trend and investing more in advanced customer authentication methods and increasing their fraud management budgets. 

A recent noteworthy example a seamless yet secure customer experience includes DBS’ SingPass Face Verification service that facilitates secure mobile sign-ups. Bank account holders can use biometric data to apply for an online bank account. The captured facial image is matched against the national biometric database and the bank doesn’t collect nor retain any data submitted. This not only ensures that consumers’ data privacy, but also makes the banking experience smoother and faster. 

Leading with empathy and a strong brand voice

There are multiple ways for organisations to build trust and long-term relationships with consumers, but in the words of Jeffrey Gitomer: “You don't earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.“ Consistency is key in building customer loyalty, and customer retention strategies should not be understated during this period. Now more than ever, Singaporean consumers are observing how organisations are treating them and those that make strategic investments to keep them updated and feel secure will emerge stronger with a league of loyal customers.

Sisca Margaretta is the chief marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Experian

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Sisca Margaretta, chief marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Experian, says it is crucial that brands treat their customers right and remain transparent about how their personal data is being used and protected.

Brands in Singapore have been struggling to take their relationship with consumers to the next level. It seems that many consumers suffer from commitment issues, expressing their openness in trying new brands instead of sticking to one. According to Criteo’s Why We Buy survey last year, 78% of Singaporeans have no brand loyalty and expressed their willingness to try out new brands across all product categories. 

However, the pandemic is causing a shift in Singaporean consumer behaviour. Recent data from Experian’s Global Insights Report – the first large-scale study of its kind assessing the impact of Covid-19 on consumer and business behaviour – showed that more than half of consumers in Singapore are staying with the same online service providers as prior to Covid-19. 

In addition, more than a third of consumers in Singapore said they would give an organisation more business if they felt they were treated fairly – courteously, honestly and without bias – during the pandemic. With revenue generation being especially critical for businesses during this period, it is crucial that brands treat their customers right by providing them with regular and useful updates, whilst remaining transparent about how their personal data is being used and protected. 

Communication is key 

With more consumers working and playing online, we are already seeing an increase in online spending. South East Asia will be home to 310 million online consumers by year-end, which is now five years ahead of an earlier 2025 projection, according to research conducted by Facebook. It is no surprise that 66% of Singaporean respondents in Experian’s survey have higher expectations of their online experience and want useful and timely updates from organisations.  

Data from the latest GlobalWebIndex report shows that TikTok and Twitch users approve of and expect brands to address Covid-19 on those channels. A staggering 93% of these users want brands to provide practical information on how to deal with Covid-19, albeit with catchy music and choreographed dance moves as the backdrop.

The efforts put into more frequent communication are paying off, with 40% of APAC consumers indicating that businesses are putting more information online to help them solve challenges, and that they are receiving more helpful communications during the pandemic.

In Singapore, there has been an increase in consumers noticing both the upward trend of communications from organisations and the authorities, as well as the faster turnaround time from customer service representatives. For example, the daily WhatsApp messages sent from Gov.sg have been lauded as a brilliant example of clear and consistent messaging since the beginning of the pandemic. The dialogue and exchange of information goes both ways. Experian’s data found there was a slight increase in the number of consumers in Singapore who are willing to share their personal and financial data with organisations they trust. 

Making consumers feel secure

As organisations rely more on digital interactions with their customers, they need to ensure complete transparency to how personal data is being used and protected. Security continues to be the most important dimension for consumers when it comes to their online experience. More are expressing their desire to have greater control over their personal data, especially when it comes to online banking and e-commerce. 

The good news is that both businesses and consumers are willing to work together to make digital interactions more secure. Consumers in Experian’s study expressed that they feel most secure using specific authentication methods, such as biometrics, identity data from mobile wallets, and behavioral biometrics. Organisations in Singapore are recognising this trend and investing more in advanced customer authentication methods and increasing their fraud management budgets. 

A recent noteworthy example a seamless yet secure customer experience includes DBS’ SingPass Face Verification service that facilitates secure mobile sign-ups. Bank account holders can use biometric data to apply for an online bank account. The captured facial image is matched against the national biometric database and the bank doesn’t collect nor retain any data submitted. This not only ensures that consumers’ data privacy, but also makes the banking experience smoother and faster. 

Leading with empathy and a strong brand voice

There are multiple ways for organisations to build trust and long-term relationships with consumers, but in the words of Jeffrey Gitomer: “You don't earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.“ Consistency is key in building customer loyalty, and customer retention strategies should not be understated during this period. Now more than ever, Singaporean consumers are observing how organisations are treating them and those that make strategic investments to keep them updated and feel secure will emerge stronger with a league of loyal customers.

Sisca Margaretta is the chief marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Experian

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