If Santa Had an App: A Better Customer Experience for Billions

By Joe Satovich, Web and Mobile Engagement Director on Dec. 19, 2013 View Comments

If Santa Had an App: A Better Customer Experience for Billions

Don’t be surprised if you find a bearded man in a big red suit taking the time to savor the cookies you left out for him on Tuesday night. A new mobile application promises to accelerate the already seemingly-magical process of delivering gifts to billions of customers worldwide in a single night.

The “Sugar Plum” app, as it’s been dubbed, is long overdue. With a growing client base, new competition, and rapidly evolving customer expectations, a business model that has spread delight for centuries faces modern threats. The CEO from the North Pole, Kris Kringle, has a need for speed and initially looked at adding more reindeer or investing heavily in R&D to create a next-generation delivery vehicle.
“These options didn’t make a lot of sense from a cost perspective,” said Kringle. “Plus, they would have other impacts, like the replacement of countless holiday decorations and the rewriting of some fan-fiction songs that have been sung for generations.”

“We decided our best bet was to develop a mobile strategy that would allow us to scale—without changing our core business model or adding a day to the delivery schedule.”

Components of this strategy have been in play for several months while customer intelligence was gathered and analyzed. Though everyone from the snowmen outside to the elves on the shop floor towed the company line and denied the accusation that cameras on customer smartphones and tablets see customers when they’re sleeping, there’s no denying that the data collected would let the company know when they’re awake.

But the main purpose, according to Kringle, is to improve the customer experience. All data gathering is aimed at creating more accurate and timely customer insights: what types of items are on their wish list? And what’s their standing on the iconic Naughty and Nice List?

While many customers still write letters and submit verbal requests to Kringle, the Sugar Plum app ensures that all data can be accessed on-the-go from the same digital repository. This way, a request can be updated across channels, further personalizing the 1-to-1 relationship the company has with its customers.

In addition to centralizing customer data, Kringle’s new app also provides the gift of time and accuracy. Searching for the right present in Kringle’s bag used to add up to a minute per delivery and was prone to errors. Equipped with RFID-tags, a tablet-attached reader, and a geo-targeted list, the app makes sure the right items are swiftly picked and delivered.

In prior years, Kringle’s static list couldn’t reflect changes or indiscretions after the sleigh was loaded. “I couldn’t give coal to kids I caught staying up past their bedtime,” he chuckled. Now, requests can be changed up to the point where Kringle enters the chimney, and “the app addresses the fact that our customers change their minds constantly, up to the last minute, and it doesn’t let us make mistakes.”

Delivering the right product—in the right place and at the right time—has become exceptionally critical for Kringle’s success in the age of social media. “Despite already breakneck speed and a low rate of error that others can only dream of, it only takes one viral video to tarnish a hard-earned reputation,” says Kringle. “Rumor has it that Bezos is going to be handing out gift cards to anyone who posts a video of any customer of ours who is disappointed on Wednesday morning. Obviously we need to continuously invest in our customer experience.”

To shave some time and risk from the frantic pace of travel—including millions of takeoffs and landings in a single night—the app replaces paper binders filled with rooftop maps and other flight documents by including navigation tools similar to what some of the major airlines are using.

Though the white-haired and bespectacled Kringle had never used a tablet, the transition from paper-to-app was seamless and he was able to use it intuitively without any training. This was thanks to the user experience, which was designed for his demographic and rolled out organically to his team.

… And to All a Good Night!

Kringle contends that his bet will pay off, citing anticipated improvements across all of his KPIs. “Our mobile strategy has bought us more of our most precious resource–time–during our busiest night of the year. Estimates show that we’ll be able to serve 20-30% more customers while improving the customer experience and eliminating waste without adding headcount or machinery.”

As for next year, Kringle intends to keep pushing forward. “We are already working on internal business app to accelerate operations on the workshop floor!”

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Posted in: Mobile, UX Design