Viaplay’s omnichannel strategy is designed for customer happiness

Streaming company Viaplay provides omnichannel support through 7 channels with Zendesk, handling 40K contacts each month.

“Zendesk talks with us about how to solve issues with the best outcome for our customers in mind. That mentality has been essential for us in a partner.”

- Tomas Yangbyn

Head of Customer Service and Digital Development at Viaplay

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In 2017, Swedish streaming giant, Viaplay, ran ads on Google in advance of the epic pay-per-view Floyd Mayweather match, encouraging Nordic fight fans to tune in. The ads included an offer to text Viaplay with any purchasing questions—a support move that had unexpected results.

“Customers who used that link found it extremely easy to get the answers they needed,” said Tomas Yangbyn, head of customer service and digital development at Viaplay. “It also dramatically increased the click-through on that ad.”

Viaplay provides much more than pay-per-view access to boxing and mixed martial arts matches. Launched in 2011, the company offers monthly streaming subscriptions that include everything from children’s shows to Hollywood blockbusters to original content produced by the countries it serves: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. It also offers direct rentals so that users can watch videos offline.

Since its customers expect variety and flexibility, Viaplay offers customer support through a wealth of channels—12 in all, including phone, email, web form, chat, SMS messaging, self-service, and a host of social media channels and review sites. The goal is to make it easy for Viaplay customers to get in touch with the company whenever and however it works for them.

Viaplay chose Zendesk early on, in 2012, to manage its customer contacts. By 2018, the company’s email, web, SMS, and live chat channels are all powered by a Zendesk omnichannel solution that includes Zendesk Support, Chat, and Talk. Viaplay also uses Conversocial to manage contacts from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, the iTunes app store, and Google Play.

Despite the complexity of its support organization, totaling more than 90 agents structured into different verticals, the key to Viaplay’s support success is its agents’ ability to act with a disarmingly simple question in mind: Will this make the customer happy?

“Having a clear, crisp, and inspirational strategy is essential,” Yangbyn said. “The whole organization has to understand that everything we do is about the customer journey and their experience with our product.”

Viaplay’s support organization also understands that agents need to derive a sense of purpose from what they do. That’s exactly why Yangbyn and leadership focus less on metrics like average handling times or cost per contact and more on satisfaction—which hovers, on average, at 91 percent.

“There’s a lot of pain in working in customer service,” Yangbyn said. “If you’re interacting with 10 angry customers every day, it’s extremely demotivating. But if you understand your purpose, and that you’re measuring only one thing—making the customer happy—it then becomes sort of simple.”

The onboarding process for agents typically spans three months. Agents undergo a variety of emotional IQ and cognitive tests, on-the-job training, and e-learning courses designed to prepare them for such a demanding role. “The higher their cognitive skill is, the happier the agent will be,” Yangbyn said. “It’s a complex environment with multiple tasks.”

While Viaplay supports multiple languages—Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish—the company takes great care to respect local sensibilities, and hires accordingly. “Norwegian and Swedish are very close, but that can be a challenge—there are huge expectations around language pronunciation and grammar,” he explained. “We really try to hire native-speaking agents so that interactions are smooth and professional.”

Adopting an omnichannel strategy has allowed Viaplay to reduce its ticket volume despite the company’s aggressive growth. Shifting emphasis away from phone support and encouraging social media use, for example, has amplified the number of tickets agents can handle within a given time period. Contacts via social media now amount to half the support team’s volume, some 40,000 contacts each month.

This shift felt natural to Viaplay’s digital-savvy customers, who often feel comfortable researching solutions themselves. Viaplay also offers self-service built in-house through WordPress, and Yangbyn estimates that customers solve as much as 90 percent of their issues on their own.

Although Viaplay aims to serve customers across a wide breadth of channels, the team’s focus is on digital channels, which hasn’t been a hard sell for Viaplay’s younger audience. Yangbyn said he’s seen the market as a whole mature over the past few years. “Customers are definitely more digital and using their mobiles,” he said. “It means we also need to adopt new channels that customers are using.”

As new channels develop and customers become increasingly self-sufficient, Yangbyn foresees a future in which Viaplay’s customer service organization asks even bigger questions: How can they drive engagement and reward customers for being engaged with the product? How can they help customers begin using the service seamlessly, while remaining available for questions?

“Customers are after a painless usage of our products. They want their experience to be as effortless as possible,” Yangbyn said. “And as the product and the market mature, we see that most questions are around onboarding or plan changes. As usage becomes more seamless, we can begin to focus on engagement.”

Viaplay believes that customizing the support experience is a key component in helping to eliminate customer pain points; as part of that effort, Viaplay used the Zendesk API to customize Zendesk Chat’s look and feel. The company has also taken advantage of Zendesk Talk’s SMS feature and Zendesk Support’s customizable analytics to better understand its customers.

“If customers are chatting with us, they should recognize that they’re chatting with Viaplay,” Yangbyn said. “Implementing text messaging was extremely simple, and Zendesk’s analytics have been really good and easy to navigate. We can dig into reports to find the information we need.”