Cristina Constandache, chief revenue officer at Rakuten Viber, explains how brands can nail the customer experience they provide this Christmas
Who hasn’t had a calamity during the festive season? Christmas movies are jam-packed with them. Obviously in real life, the problems aren’t quite so spectacular – but they’re no less disruptive.
Scrambling to snatch up this year’s must-have toy or gadget or the one thing you had left on your shopping list very suddenly going out of stock. Ovens breaking down, and dinners staying frozen. Then there are the inevitable travel troubles: missed or delayed trains, planes and other connections. And let’s not even talk about the weather.
All put together, it’s no wonder that, in many ways, Christmas is a series of disasters just waiting to happen. And because the atmosphere is so hyped up, there’s much more at stake if you get it wrong for your customers. Things that would normally be treated as minor irritations assume a whole new level of importance. With one-third of consumers saying they would walk away from a brand after a disappointing experience, that’s quite a risk.
But, if we look at it another way, this also means that Christmas is a series of opportunities to absolutely nail the customer experience and change relationships for the better. Wow someone as they search for that all-important gift, seal the deal on a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas vacation, or just get home for the holidays, and you’ll earn yourself some serious brownie points.
This is where platforms like Rakuten Viber come in, with different tools and channels to help marketers answer a whole range of very specific individual needs.
Take some of those potential disasters. Instead of consumers missing out on a critical purchase, brands can analyse likely seasonal shopping items and use messaging to send a gentle reminder if they have an offer, or if stock’s running low on a particular item. Even better, once they’ve been prompted, consumers can buy the things they were interested in straight away, without having to go anywhere else.
Or what about the nightmare scenario of disrupted journeys? Savvy travel firms and organisations that offer route mapping or GPS services could get ahead when things go wrong, informing customers in real time of delays, accidents or re-routes, and giving them alternative options to choose from and pay for – all within a single chat. Imagine the relief of knowing the last flight’s been cancelled but that you’ve already sorted a hotel for the night, before you leave the airport.
As for the big day itself, if the unthinkable happens and the oven buckles under the pressure, there’s the potential for customers to send an SOS to the retailer or manufacturer, get some troubleshooting support and, if all else fails, search for a different way to cook that turkey, chicken or whatever – or find out who’s open for takeaway.
On a more serious note, we all know that accident rates go up in the few weeks before Christmas, as more of us get out on the roads and rush in a panic to get everything done. So, if you’ve had a bump or a breakdown, being able to quickly inform and get updates from your roadside assistance supplier, insurance company or – worst case – the emergency services, could make all the difference.
By having conversations like these using Viber Business Messages, brands and support organisations not only get to fix or even pre-empt problems, they start to build more of a relationship with their customers. And the more you stay in touch, the more you find out about their interests, preferences and total turn-offs, meaning you can hone the way you interact with them, and offer them more relevant products and services.
Let’s not forget that this time of year is when people connect the most, and Viber’s other tools and channels can help them do that in a number of ways.
At the most basic level, there’s chat between family and friends. There’s nothing like message history to give you a clue when it comes to the age-old problem of buying for the person who has everything. Just check anything they’ve shared and marked with a string of Heart-Eyes emojis – then follow the link out to buy then and there. Chat extensions mean you can sing along to your favourite yuletide song together, or share video of the unwrapping of presents – even if you’re thousands of miles away from one another.
For get-togethers, group chats are ideal for keeping things under control and getting everyone where they need to be. (Also, for sharing any embarrassing selfies afterwards in a closed environment. Whether that’s advisable or not is for you to decide.)
Communities expand things out a bit further and let you join larger groups with similar interests. So, whether you’re a fervent Christmas fan or more in the “Bah humbug” category, you can chat with like-minded people and hurrah or huff your way through the whole thing. And if a tinsel-hater somehow manages to get into your IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAASSSS!!! community, you can ban them if they don’t respect your rules.
You could even go retro and give someone (whisper it) a call to say you love them and wish them a Merry Christmas.
With platforms like Viber it’s possible to do all of this, and more, without even changing the channel.
Enjoy the festivities!