Using WhatsApp Business for Customer Service - Last Updated: 17 June 2019
Note! The intention of this post is to keep businesses updated on the rollout of WhatsApp Business. We will update it regularly for the benefit of our clients and other interested parties.
At the last count (April 2019) WhatsApp had in excess of 1.6 billion monthly active users (MAUs), which is an enormous number. Unlike many other MAU stats, the word “Active” is almost an understatement because around 60% of users are Daily Active Users.
This makes WhatsApp the key messaging platform in many countries in the world (notable exceptions include the U.S. where Messenger is markedly more dominant and the likes of China, Russia, South Korea and Japan where local apps dominate).
Source: Messenger People
With that sort of traction it should be no surprise that both existing and prospective clients regularly ask us when we will start providing WhatsApp for business functionality. In fact, we’ve been asked so many times we decided to create this post to aggregate all the latest news so we can point inquiries in this direction.
WhatsApp Business - The Latest Updates
Table 1: WhatsApp for Business - Latest Updates Summary
|News||Rumour / Official||Timing||More info|
|While SMBs will be able to use the app for free, WhatsApp charges larger businesses.||Official||Currently free for up to 24 hours. After this point passes messages will then each cost between $0.05 and $0.9.|
|Most popular features can now be used on WhatsApp web and desktop||Official||Available from April 2019|
|Whatsapp Business for Iphone rolled out||Official||Available from April 2019|
|WhatsApp Product Catalogs was announced.||Official||Announced at Facebook’s annual F8 Developer Summit (Available end 2019)|
WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API
Before we talk about getting set up with WhatsApp for Business it's important to note that there are currently two distinct ways to WhatsApp ways to approach it and which one you should choose depends primarily on the size of your company (in terms of the volume of customer interactions).
1. The WhatsApp Business App is designed to cater to small businesses and is the perfect solution to respond to messages quickly and efficiently.
2. The WhatApp API is intended to be used by enterprises. These businesses can use their current customer engagement platforms (the platform also needs to be approved) to handle WhatsApp messaging via an API (Application Program Interface). They can then engage with their customers via WhatsApp messaging and use features like notifications, shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets.
How to get started with WhatsApp Business
Just like the regular WhatsApp, your account is tied to your phone number. Therefore you'll likely need to pick up an extra sim card and perhaps even an extra phone if you don't have one already - you will not be able to use the same number for your WhatsApp account and your WhatsApp Business account.
Register a landline number
As a business, you are most likely to prefer registering your WhatsApp Business account with a landline number rather than a mobile number. WhatsApp Business enables you to do so and provides you with the option of receiving a call instead of an SMS to verify your number.
Next, you'll need to let users know you are using the Business Profile. This is a set of basic information much like on Google Maps. Below, you can see how we've set it up and what a user sees.
- WhatsApp Business account owners can update their profile info including a picture, business hours, website address, description of the business and office/store address.
Verifying and Confirming your Business
When a person clicks on Business Account they will see a prompt that states, "WhatsApp hasn't verified that this is a business. WhatsApp states that notable brands will be verified by WhatsApp. There is no request for verification currently available as of June 2019.
The account is owned by an authentic brand (green checkmark badge).
Account’s phone number matches business’s phone number (grey checkmark badge).
- Business account
The account has neither been confirmed nor verified (grey question mark badge).
Check for a green checkmark badge in the profile and next to the header in the chat thread.
Creating a WhatsApp API Business Account
Getting Started with the WhatsApp Business API
Before you can create a WhatsApp API business account you're going to have to ask for early adopter access. The starting point is filling out this form and hoping that WhatsApp respond. Don't hold your breath unless you're a large enterprise that will be likely to sending 500,000 messages or more a month.
Once you've received your access to WhatsApp API, you'll need to create an account. You can do this through Facebook Business Manager. Once you're there, you need to open the Accounts drop down on the left, navigate to WhatsApp Accounts then Add.
Rocketbots have an excellent in-depth post that details each step of setting up and managing your WhatsApp Business API.
Screenshot: WhatsApp Business Account Creation
How To Benefit From The WhatsApp Business App
The WhatsApp Business app and API provide metrics that help you better understand the effectiveness of your messaging. These include details such as open rates, how many messages you’ve sent and more.
Companies can build a chatbot to completely streamline the processes and provide immediate responses and answers to FAQs.
Rocketbots have written a great article on some of the ways to benefit from using the app to provide excellent customer service. Areas covered include:
- Onboarding Contacts
- Segmenting Contacts
- Responding to Contacts
WhatsApp Business account owners can analyse their interactions with their customers within the app. Some of the data that will be available to businesses include:
- messages sent;
- messages delivered;
- messages read; and
- messages received.
Businesses can categorize their customers to better serve them.
- New Orders
- Pending Payments
- Order Complete
There is also the option of creating your own labels.
Businesses can create customised away messages which are sent when your employees are busy and unavailable to respond to new messages. In the case of WhatsApp groups, the away message is sent when someone mentions you. An automated greeting can also be sent to new customers.
Businesses that were already using a normal WhatsApp account before creating their WhatsApp Business account, can migrate their messages and chat history. Read the instructions here.
Note! If you want to register the same phone number to your WhatsApp Business account, remember to delete the WhatsApp app.
API Technical Setup(For developers)
There are some great resources on the web for optimizing your customer engagement. These guides explain the more technical side of the WhatsApp Business API set up, such as integration with your current systems. Some of the areas covered in depth include:
- Setting up Webhooks
- Sending Media
- Sending Message Templates
How Customers Contact a Business
Unlike Facebook Messenger and Twitter for example, currently there is no facility to search for a business directly within WhatsApp.
As of 30 May 2019 the two ways customers can contact a business are as follows
1. If your company has WhatsApp Business set up, customers enter your business number as they would with a personal contact.
2. If you are a larger enterprise using Whatapp API you can set up an opt in service for customers.
Screenshots: Contacting a business.
International Brands that are already using WhatsApp Business
KLM was one of the first big brands to go live with Facebook Messenger as a customer service channel and they are following suit with WhatsApp. In a recent blog post they revealed that over 80% of their customer service is taking place either on Messenger or WhatsApp. Some of the services provided via the app are check-in confirmations, boarding passes, booking confirmations and flight status updates.
Image: KLM WhatsApp Business
Other examples of businesses using WhatsApp:
- Uber tested WhatsApp for receiving drivers’ questions.
- Wish, lets customers track their orders via messaging.
- Bank BRI offers conversational banking features via WhatsApp.
- Glassic generates 30 percent of its new sales through WhatsApp Business.
- Booking.com uses WhatsApp to send confirmations and itinerary updates.
- Netflix started sending recommendations via WhatsApp.
- BookMyShow started offering tickets via WhatsApp.
- OYO use WhatsApp to receive booking confirmations along with the cancellation and navigation details.
We have seen how successful Facebook Messenger for business has been. It’s almost certain using WhatsApp Business for customer service will become the norm for both businesses and consumers.
This post will be kept up to date with the latest news about WhatsApp Business so be sure to subscribe to our blog to receive notification when we update this post.