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WeCom played a vital role in helping business stay in touch with their customer base during COVID-19 shutdowns. In-store sales associates could quickly pivot to connecting with customers via the app with over one billion daily users, WeChat. Their professional WeCom accounts were managed and monitored by brands, who could provide sales associates with content libraries for one-to-one and group conversations. Even with China’s reopening and promising economic rebound, the lessons learned from WeCom aren’t going away, and luxury brands are finding creative ways to capitalize on this function.
One pervasive use of WeCom is to provide customers with a more personalized and convenient form of customer service. By offering an associate’s WeCom contact, brands hand over access to their customers. No more waiting in a generic service chat (or even worse, on a phone line); now WeChat users can message a brand associate as easily as their other friends. Offering this feature is popular in some financial industries as well: when a financial Official Account gains a new follower, sometimes even their welcome message will include a WeCom contact QR code.
We can see how this is especially important for luxury brands: not only do Chinese users expect instant customer service within the WeChat app (requiring an email would be unheard of), but when purchasing luxury, people naturally expect service a step above the rest. Now brands are taking two steps further, and using WeCom to offer efficiency, personalization, and connection in creative ways.
We’ll look at two WeCom use cases that go beyond functioning as private customer service chats:
01. Managing promotion-centered groups
02. Driving online traffic to offline stores
Managing promotion-centered groups
Whether it be for Queens’ Day (i.e. International Women’s Day) or 618, luxury brands (especially luxury beauty) can benefit from running promotion-centered groups via their store associates’ WeCom accounts.
What are promotion-centered groups?
Large groups of shoppers on WeChat created by a brand to keep them up-to-date about a special promotion. A brand’s sales associates on WeCom can moderate these. Shoppers usually sign up for these groups through a brand’s WeChat Mini Program.
Why do brands run them?
- They can build a community around their brand, get much higher engagement, and through personalized service transform customers into brand advocates!
- Running them from store associates’ WeCom accounts allows for separation of their personal and professional accounts and quality control by the brand.
- WeCom allows brands to create content libraries for their associates to use in chats like these.
Why do people join?
- Members become part of a luxury community where they can enjoy the social aspect of shopping online.
- They also get direct access to store associates to answer questions.
- Plus, associates post the latest updates for sometimes complex promotion rules and special coupons just for group members.
What is the user experience like?
Upon joining a group, a user is usually greeted with a personalized welcome message. The welcome message reviews group benefits, with a focus on creating a community feeling. In the below example, YSL also emphasizes immediate service as a part of the group, even listing the associate's WeCom working hours.
Group members can tag the brand associate with questions (usually getting nearly immediate responses) or just ask them to the whole group. Shoppers will sometimes share pictures of products they’ve received from the current promotion and share their opinions, praise, and/or complaints. There’s friendly banter, and users will exchange discount codes and tips. Store associates will also promote events like limited-space livestreams.
How do people join?
The path to join can vary from brand to brand, but this example from YSL is not uncommon:
01. A floating bubble in YSL’s WeChat store (or Mini Program) home screen promotes the group.
02. The user receives an invitation via a template service message (note the WeCom icon in the screenshot).
03. Clicking on the service message brings up a QR code to enter the group.
04. The group functions just like a normal chat in a user’s WeChat home screen.
Driving online traffic to offline stores
WeCom can play a pivotal role in bringing potential customers into stores, or in connecting current customers with the in-store services that will keep them returning.
How does it work?
Brands connect their WeChat users with a brand associate from the nearest boutique, who becomes the user’s contact via a WeCom account. Users can then easily set up an in-store appointment and access in-person services through their nearby store associate. We’ll look at two different examples of how brands implement this below: map-based and skills-based.
Why use WeCom?
- By connecting first on WeCom, the sales associate and client begin forming a relationship, making in-store visits an even more positive and effective experience.
- WeCom allows the store associate to arrange any needs before the visit (for example, if someone is going in for a watch repair) or follow up post-visit.
- The brand can supply their associates with a content library and are able to monitor for quality.
- When an associate moves on from their position, the brand simply transfers their contacts to another associate, maintaining the relationships.
- It allows associates to keep their private (WeChat) and professional (WeCom) accounts separate.
What are the benefits for users?
- No more going through generic customer service chats for users.
- They can chat with an assistant just as easily as if they were friends in WeChat (even though the brand associate is using WeCom).
- A consistent, local connection with the brand takes in-person service to the next level of personalization, so clients are more likely to get their needs met and be happy.
In Tag Heuer’s WeChat Mini Program (a Mini Program is a mini app that doesn’t require another download, but that users can instantly open within WeChat), a user first selects their nearest boutique, then adds a WeCom contact or books an appointment. Adding a WeCom contact looks just like adding a friend, but with verification that they’re from the brand. From here, it’s a breeze for Tag Heuer’s consumers to book in-store appointments, get answers to their questions, and access any local services they might need.
Dior’s Mini Program allows shoppers to select from a list of consultants at their nearest boutique to make a connection with: make-up artists, beauty consultants, and even the store manager are all on the list. This makes setting up an appointment tailored to a shopper’s specific needs personalized and intuitive. They can just chat with the Dior associate as they would any of their friends. This works especially well for setting up appointments that are more personal, as with skincare.