Carrefour Brazil launches a WhatsApp assistant
September 21, 2020

You probably have WhatsApp installed on your smartphone. In Brazil, everyone (I mean “almost”) has.  This behavior inspired our service design teams and they decided to imagine the best experience to provide services and information content through this messaging application. And we specifically focused on a virtual assistant within WhatsApp.

However, we could not simply provide a new channel without thinking about the business strategy, market positioning and customer experience. It was essential to consider the whole care journey to integrate this new service seamlessly.

We quickly understood that we needed to leverage our existing Call center number inviting our customers to either call us or message us. Of course, as we needed to secure the conversation, we implemented the account verification process (as shown in the image below).

The creation of Carina, Carrefour Brazil’s new WhatsApp assistant

When we chat on WhatsApp, with a friend or family member, we use a friendlier language, with emojis and images, and sometimes, we even send audios and photos. Thinking about this behavior, the need arose to create a persona for our robot, so we created Carina. Carina is Carrefour Brazil’s new WhatsApp virtual assistant.

The name Carina means Carrefour Intelligence Artificial. Our customers (i.e., +100 000 across Brazil), through a public vote, helped us design her caracter. Carina has her own style, calls the customers by their name, uses easy and clear language (e.g., short texts to optimize interaction duration). Its main mission is to guide the customer during navigation. On top of that, Carina offers several services and answers to simple questions, such as the address of a store or the balance available on the credit card.

She is also present in the Chat service on the Website and in the IVR, where she verbalizes the service options. The answers are aligned to the persona defined by the marketing team, allowing the client to have the perception that he is talking to a real Carrefour agent.

Even with just over a year of work, Carina is still learning. Our team continously enriches her vocabulary set, depending on evolving questions of our clients.

Which services and enquiries does Carina answer to?

Carina handles predictable and recurrent questions. But as you can imagine, we cannot plan for every enquiry… That’s why we decided to build a strategy based on a hybrid relationship concept, intertwining the best technology with the most valuable human skills:

  • artificial intelligence for simple and clear questions 
  • human agents for more complex and sophisticated enquiries

The volume of requests within the voice channel was also an important factor in the decision to choose the services that would be available. Thus, in our initial version, we had the following service scope:

  • Status of e-commerce purchases
  • Store directory and informations
  • Credit card limit and invoice for payment
  • Promotional catalogs and offerings
  • Complaint status

Since launch and based on our client’s feedbacks, we have improved the service level with +10 use cases. Carina even just started to receive audio messages!

A very important point for this project was the securing our customer’s data, either in the way we manage the flow but also in the way we store it. We wanted our clients to feel safe in their interaction with us.

Our ambitions for Carina, our virtual assistant on WhatsApp

The channel was born with the strong ambition to reach 2 million conversations by December 2019. As it started in April 2019, the challenge was even greater. In the first month, 80,000 conversations were held between Carina and our customers.

The objective was achieved and we were able to define a structured roadmap. We added new features, carried out a very comprehensive communication plan and managed to engage our client service teams along the way.

For 2020, our ambitions are even higher. We have a goal of 7 million conversations and reach 200 K active users per month as of December 2020.

Simple habits have become complex and customer behavior has changed. This requires new strategies to meet new needs, in addition to reassessing all the servic;e roadmap. Keeping in close contact with our customers, we believe we can achieve an uplift in the number of conversations held. To get there, Carina will improve her audio recognition skills and get prepared to become a sales channel. Of course, keeping it simple is our moto!

If you want to know how Carina works and see her grow ;), add +55 11 3004-2222 on your WhatsApp and send “Helloā€¯ to start a conversation. She loves to get feedback ?.

Credits: Renato Mortensen (Banking Services squad PO) & Fabio Bittencourt (Contact Center Director) who work on the project!

Check out the other articles relating to sales and marketing projects!

About the Author

Product Owner at Carrefour Brazil Antonio is specialized in customer service areas and aims at giving the best customer experience possible to his clients. His hobby is telling stories created by him and his daughter!

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