As the pandemic continues to hit brands hard, leading chat app Viber is playing a vital role in delivering new 'contactless' customer experiences that improve CX and drive sales conversions.
There's no getting away from it: COVID-19 has seriously impacted on how customers interact with brands. Concerns about personal safety has lead to less face-to-face interactions, say, in-store as customers choose instead to head online to shop and/or communicate with businesses — all while still expecting great CX.
This represents a seriously tough challenge for any brand's customer services department to contend with. However, such consumer expectations shouldn't come as a complete surprise as this shift was already happening before COVID-19's arrival.
Consumers — especially Gen Zers and Millennials — were increasingly reaching out to brands via texting and messaging, preferring to chat via touchscreen instead of heading to a store or queuing for a call center agent. For instance, according to a 2019 Wolfgang report, 56% of shoppers wanted to text, not call a business, and 53% were more likely to buy from a company they could contact via a chat app.
Because of this shift, savvy businesses have already been busy introducing messaging platforms into their CX strategies, turning to chat app heavy hitters such as Viber to not only help but enhance their customer services operations well before the pandemic hit.
Viber: What it is and why it matters to business
One of the top 10 downloaded apps of all time, Viber boasts over one billion users worldwide with deep penetration rates in South East Asia (59%), Central and Eastern Europe (76%), and CIS (76%). Demographically, the platform is most used by younger audiences especially 25-34 year-olds, and is popular with both men and women.
Also, Viber's user activity is huge. Before the pandemic, there were seven million interactions on the platform every 60 seconds. During the pandemic, this predictably shot up with a 66% increase in the number of active users and 21% increase in the number of messages.
All in, it means the platform is an online space that is already massively popular with its users who rely on it in their day-to-day lives. Such penetration and user familiarity means Viber's potential for brands is substantial too, but what specific advantages does the messaging platform offer business over more traditional 'contactless' comms channels?
How Viber supersedes SMS for delivering modern customer experiences
Viber's nearest 'competitor' is SMS, a stalwart relied on by businesses all over the world to deliver core services such as notifications and One Time Passwords. But the service is distinctly 'old school' when compared to Viber and its mass of business- and CX-focused functionality. For instance:
Business only ever pays for messages delivered via Viber whereas SMS texts are charged for just being sent, never mind if they are actually delivered to the customer successfully.
Viber enables brands to include rich media in any messaging such as images, videos, GIFs and more, whereas SMS is bound by 160 characters with rich media sent via MMS incurring steep charges.
The messaging platform allows brands to deep dive into how customers have interacted with a message sent over Viber — offering click-thru rates, and even detecting when the customer starts typing a reply — while SMS only offers the most threadbare of delivery reports.
Whereas SMSs sent by brands typically appear on the customer's screen as a number, Viber allows for a company name and a verified badge to be displayed, offering reassurance to the consumer that the missive is the real deal, and not a potential scam.
SMS requires any business to navigate its way through multiple complex integration processes with different carriers to ensure it works in tandem with in-house commercial systems. And Viber? It can be fully integrated with such systems using a single API (see below).
Moving beyond SMS: How Viber transforms customer services & marketing
Viber is more than just a 'super-powered' SMS alternative though. It is also able to service entire customer journeys from start to finish, plus offer several advantages for marketers to leverage:
After opting into the brand's Viber service with a single click, the customer can request information about their potential purchase, connecting with either a chatbot to answer basic questions or be handed over to a live agent to address more specific enquiries.
Customers can select what options or additions they want with their purchase as well as quickly set delivery times and issue any last-mile instructions. Once ready to order, the consumer can be seamlessly taken to a payment page and make their friction-free purchase.
From out-for-delivery notes and bank account statuses through to digital boarding passes, notifications can be delivered to the customer so they have all the information they need in a single easy-to-access app they already use every day.
Viber can be used to send out quick fire survey links that customers can fill out in seconds. Such feedback helps identify any potential issues with customer services or be used for social media campaigns if the response is positive.
Best of all, all messaging is protected by Viber's end-to-end encryption, giving the customer genuine peace of mind that any potentially sensitive information is always protected.
Unlike other major chat apps, Viber is marketing-friendly, enabling brands to use the channel to deliver marketing missives to opted-in customers that increase sales conversions; think the latest deals, personalized offers (based on the customer's past purchase history), coupons that can be shared with the customer's friends, or even entire branding and product campaigns.
Go it alone or partner up: How brands successfully transition to Viber
Viber's advantages for brands may be significant, but how should businesses make the move at minimal cost and with zero disruption to existing customer services? Many are choosing to bypass the rollout of Viber using their own in-house teams as such an approach typically relies on expensive hires and burning through precious company resources.
Instead, many are choosing to team up with official Viber providers such as tyntec to make the transition. These partners are ideally placed to plan and implement the messaging platform as well as offer an array of additional features including fast onboarding, agent dashboards, and APIs that integrate Viber with many existing commerce systems including Shopify, Slack, and more.
Whichever route a business chooses to take, it is essential they begin planning their Viber rollout now to meet that increased customer demand for messaging with brands. This not only protects companies against the immediate and continuing threat posed to bottom lines by the pandemic, but also prepares them for a future where digital-first experiences will increasingly become the de-facto choice for many mobile-first consumers.