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Lifeline to normality: Singaporeans embrace applications but shun poor digital experiences

Gregg Ostrowski
Lifeline to normality: Singaporeans embrace applications but shun poor digital experiences

While Singaporeans have lived through fluctuating restrictions – like Circuit Breaker and heightened alerts – one thing that has remained constant over the last 18 months is the lifeline to normality that applications and digital services have provided. Whether it’s staying connected to loved ones, ordering food and groceries, work, study, or rest, the role that apps play in our lives has never been more prominent.

Tellingly, in the latest report led by Business Observability platform AppDynamics, a significant 95% of Singaporeans reveal that digital services have helped them get through the pandemic in a positive way. It’s clear that as life threatened to grind to a halt with COVID-19 putting the brakes on travel, entertainment, and work as we knew it, apps have enabled us to get on and continue functioning.

For many people, this widespread transition to the online sphere opened their eyes to the many benefits that digital services promise. Be it virtual activities for leisure, or access to essential services, many consumers have found themselves trying something they would ordinarily have never considered before. According to the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report, more than 1 in 3 digital services that consumers started using last year were because of the pandemic.

Realizing that a viable and convenient digital alternative is readily available to the traditional ways of doing things, consumers in Singapore are now likely to continue relying on these options beyond the pandemic. In fact, 83% of people in Singapore have already expressed their intention to use these services even after the restrictions imposed because of COVID-19 have disappeared.

This change in mindset and behavior will no doubt have implications on both consumer expectations, and how businesses must respond – not only in the short run but also in the longer term as we transition to endemic living.

Customers recognize the investment efforts from brands

Even people who don’t work in technology have witnessed the extent to which organizations across many sectors have innovated over the last 18 months. Launching new services to meet the evolving needs of customers, we’ve seen work and learning go virtual, as have banking, shopping, entertaining, and more. But of course, simply ‘going digital’ isn’t always enough for brands to win the hearts of their customers.

All over the world, we’ve seen organizations that have instead, quickly kickstarted and implemented full-scale digital transformation programs to improve operational processes and deliver apps and digital experiences that meet the needs of their customers. And their efforts have not been for naught. The same study by AppDynamics has discovered that consumers actually recognize and are thankful for the efforts that brands have invested into delivering these apps.

As people sought control and normalcy amid a most uncertain and challenging period, apps have been critical to empowering consumers during the pandemic. Almost 80% of those in Singapore say they are grateful to the brands that have invested in digital so they could access the services that they love. Those that have gone above and beyond with the quality of their digital services have also enjoyed the fruits of their labor, with 75% of people in Singapore feeling more loyal towards these companies.

It appears that creating and maintaining lasting relationships with customers increasingly rests on the delivery of seamless and faultless digital experiences. Brands that can ensure they make a positive impact on the lives of their consumers will have massive opportunities to forge these deeper connections and stay competitive.

Perfection is non-negotiable

As people of all ages across the globe depend on their apps for almost every facet of life, expectations have naturally skyrocketed. In particular, consumers increasingly seek the ‘total application experience’, which in addition to being reliable, secure, and personalized, is also simple, helpful, and fun to use. The bar has been raised forever and brands must now meet these expectations of performance and functionality.

But while consumers are showing more love towards the brands that meet their sky-high expectations with first-class services, tolerance for sub-optimal experiences has hit rock bottom. Indeed, expectations have changed during the pandemic and almost 70% of those in Singapore now expect nothing less than the best and will no longer tolerate poor performance.

As with most tech, digital services are susceptible to disruptions originating from various sources. And while slow loading pages, poor response time, and security lapses are often due to the app itself, other factors like internet connectivity, or issues with third-party plug-ins remain beyond the app owner’s control.

Despite the multitude of possibilities behind an app’s failure or technical disruption, most consumers believe it’s the brand’s duty to ensure their digital service always performs at an optimal standard. To 78% of the consumers in Singapore, it doesn’t matter what causes the poor performance. While external factors like a poor internet connection or weak mobile signal may be to blame, consumers expect application owners and the brands to take responsibility.

Consumers leave at the first sign of trouble

Although encountering problems with digital services is not a new phenomenon – with a majority of people saying they have experienced an issue over the last 12 months, what is increasingly worrying is how unforgiving consumers have become. No longer happy to just ‘try again later’ or continue struggling with an app, consumer patience has waned, and quickly switching to alternatives is now a norm.

Additionally, beyond simply deleting a poor-performing app from their device, consumers are also more vocal, often sharing and amplifying their negative experiences to others. With only one chance to impress consumers, brands and app owners need to go big and do right, as they can no longer afford even the tiniest blips in the digital customer experience.

To ensure issues are discovered and resolved before customers are affected, the ability to conduct full-stack observability that provides real-time insights, for instance, will be critical in today’s digital age. Filtering through the complexity and noise to identify and prioritize fixing issues with the greatest business impact is the only way for brands to create and maintain the flawless digital experiences that their customers have grown accustomed to and will continue to demand.

This article was written by Gregg Ostrowski, Executive CTO at AppDynamics.
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