SMEs not addressing clients’ preference for customer service apps

SMALL-BUSINESS clients have expressed a preference for dealing with such companies via applications rather than customer service representatives, Microsoft Corp. said, but the adoption of such technology by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is lagging.

“Eighty-six percent of consumers prefer not to talk with customer support and would rather use a self-service application,” Microsoft Corp. said in a statement Thursday, citing a study conducted by BlastAsia, a Philippine software engineering company. “Yet, only 2% of companies successfully address this issue.

“This is why SMEs can lose critical business to larger and more digitally transformed enterprises,” Microsoft said.

BlastAsia President and Chief Executive Officer Arup Maity noted the gap between what businesses have adopted and what suitable technology is available.

Microsoft offers a BlastAsia-developed product called Steer, a no-code development platform, on its Appsource site for business users. Steer enables companies to build apps for customers to order or to check status using their smartphones, as well as for internal teams to manage workflows and records using their phones, tablets, or laptops.

“These apps are fully integrated to back-end processes and systems and are built in a short time — with no coding skills needed,” Microsoft said.

Mr. Maity said the platform, which uses Microsoft cloud technology, is the company’s response and solution for SMEs digitizing their services.

“Custom software development is not for SMEs — it takes too long and has a high upfront cost and risk associated with it,” he noted. BlastAsia, according to Microsoft, hopes to partner with about 2,000 companies here and overseas by the end of 2022 to aid these clients’ digital transition. — Arjay L. Balinbin