Asia’s Growth Ceiling and How to Break It

When working with customers around Asia, I’ve noticed that most businesses have a real desire to adopt the latest digital solutions. They want to grow fast, and they appreciate how the efficiency and scalability of automated, self-service SaaS platforms can help them do so. But at the same time, they tend to not feel comfortable adopting these solutions unless they have someone to take them through the implementation process, one step at a time – which can result in longer deployment times and slower ROI than the solution might otherwise provide. That prompts the question: can reliance on that high-touch customer service slow down growth?


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It is no secret that customer service is king in Asia: 3 in 4 consumers in the region think it should be every company’s top priority, an expectation they usually bring to their roles as businesspeople as well. Mostly, good customer service is synonymous with a high-touch experience: having a dedicated rep guiding you through the decision-making and purchasing process from start to finish. However, the two are not always one and the same. In fact, a more self-service and even automated approach to customer care may deliver the best experience for both businesses and employees alike.


The biggest risk: falling behind?

Today’s digital solutions tend to provide that self-service adoption model if customers want to take it up. Most SaaS services are designed to be rolled out at scale, with minimal fuss, by customers themselves. If need be, remote assistance and implementation support is usually just a click away, along with resources like webinars or tutorials that can fill the gap between self-service and high-touch. For most businesses, those resources prove more than enough to get new digital services up and running on their own.


If so, then why do Asian businesses still gravitate towards the slower approach where someone takes them by the hand through each stage of the adoption process? Confidence and awareness tend to play a part. If you’re rolling out a radically new product or service to your entire business, it’s understandable to be concerned about potentially making costly mistakes along the way. High-touch service often looks like a lower-risk option than doing it yourself – but this is only true up to a point.


A much bigger risk comes from the solution not delivering on its promise as quickly or as effectively as expected. If that happens, the rest of the business may end up unconvinced of the solution’s merits…and give up on something that could drastically help their performance and growth. Often, the best way to see the full benefits of new digital solutions is to take that seemingly riskier self-service approach and see just how fast and far the results extend. One of our largest customers, for example, rolled out SAP Concur’s platform to seven markets in just seven weeks – but only because they took the plunge with that self-service model of adoption.


A hand in need

For us, we’ve been trying to strike the balance between high-touch interactions and self-service efficiency in various ways – like shorter, but more frequent, contact points between our sales teams and our customers. I’ve seen that in some markets, like Singapore, that awareness of self-service resources is leading to more and more businesses taking the DIY approach to adopt SaaS platforms like ours.


There will always be a need for a helping hand when bringing a new product or service on board, and it’s our responsibility as platform and service providers to extend that hand at a moment’s notice. The more businesses trust in their own hands to set things up, however, the faster they can scale and adapt to using these tools – which in most cases is why you’d want to go digital in the first place.

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