Unlike in this article at the Telegraph, where it highlights how few UK small companies are using WhatsApp to build a rapport with their customers, Brazil is already having large and multinational companies embracing this new channel.
Let’s take a look at what happened to one of my Brazilian friends here in London: Thiago got an email from telecom Telefónica, which in Brazil also owns the mobile network Vivo, saying that his allegedly mobile account was in arrears. As Thiago hasn’t lived in Brazil for over 10 years, he found that very weird, he even thought that could be some sort of email scam. He then looked up Telefónica’s website and found a WhatsApp number for their customer service and started chatting with a customer service attendant. Apparently, someone got a mobile phone plan in his name back in 2008. He then explained that he hasn’t been living in Brazil since 2004 and the matter has been investigated right now. The whole process was a quick and easy, and he didn’t even need to spend money with international phone calls to Brazil or sending and waiting for email responses. And btw, all mobile networks have WhatsApp option for their customer service.
WhatsApp there isn’t limited to only provide customer service there. Back in 2014, Mitsubishi Motors Brazil started using WhatsApp as a pre-sales tool for potential customers: they would get information about the Lancer Sedan, like colours and models, as well as photos and videos, and it would allow them to ask questions and check prices. If, then a customer decided to close the deal, they would be sent to the car dealer store. Also, Itau Bank provided some of its services via WhatsApp, which previously was done via sms.
I wouldn’t say that Brazil is mobile-first country like some of African countries, but it’s a place where people have a very close relationship with their mobile phone messaging. WhatsApp penetration among mobile internet users is 56%, according to Statista. Another important factor that companies are taking into account is that 60% of mobile phone users in Brazil still have pre-paid plans. For Brazilians,it is more cost effective to communicate via WhatsApp, especially if you don’t have a monthly mobile contract.
It also makes me wonder why companies in UK and Europe have not yet adopted WhatsApp as an additional channel to interact with their customers. I, myself, would love to get in touch with my bank or credit card provider via WhatsApp, especially while I’m abroad. Or perhaps, book a train or plane ticket via WhatsApp too. Maybe that would change here in a few years ahead. Until then Brazilian will carry on chatting and making business via WhatsApp like no other.