Facebook-owned instant messaging app, WhatsApp in February 2020 announced a major milestone of crossing two billion users worldwide, with India leading the country-wise adoption with over 400 million userbase.
With the introduction of ‘WhatsApp Business’, WhatsApp has given a major boost to businesses to tap into this huge userbase through ‘Conversational Commerce’ – a conversational engagement between a brand and a consumer to answer product queries or provide customer care services, which will eventually facilitate a new sale or make a customer happy.
Brands can now securely engage with their customers directly on the WhatsApp messaging platform.
WhatsApp Business vs WhatsApp Business API
WhatsApp Business app is targeted at small and local businesses to reach out and respond to customers. This product is completely free and can be downloaded from any app store.
WhatsApp Business API is meant for medium and big size companies with multiple outlets, huge consumer base and a wide geographical presence. It is secure and highly customisable for marketing activities. This is a paid service.
How to get started
You can get the WAB API in two ways: If you have in-house developers, then directly apply for access through WhatsApp. The other way is to apply through a solution provider who has expertise in WhatsApp integrations and provides a readymade solution.
Here are some suggestions on how to use WAB.
Verified Business Profiles
Brands have been sending marketing SMSes to customers, but they are often looked upon with suspicion due to lack of authenticity. WAB allows brands to create verified business profiles, which helps users to know who they are chatting with or receiving messages from. This aids in building brand trust amongst the consumers.
Customer Support Channel
Customers want to engage with companies on platforms they are comfortable with. With the current COVID crisis, most of the call centres are not fully functional. This is where WAB steps in.
WhatsApp is a great way to handle customer care as it is the most preferred instant messaging app in India and therefore, a familiar channel for customers to raise queries with brands.
It brings customer support directly to the consumer without the need to visit the brand’s website.
WAB is not meant for mass communication. Even if you have email IDs/phone numbers of your customers, the platform does not permit mass marketing messaging. The platform allows two types of messages:
- Template Messages: These are pre-approved message formats by WhatsApp. Whatsapp currently allows 10 types of outbound messages – OTP, account updates, delivery status, payment requests, billing update, reservation status, appointment reminder, travel updates, news alerts to customer query tickets. All messages are chargeable.
- Session Messages: A session is a 24-hour window after the user initiates an interaction/message with your number/business profile, and the session time gets reset back to 24 hours whenever a new message is received from a user. During the 24-hour session, brands can send any type of messages including marketing, promotional, media, contact, location, etc. to the user. Brands need to ensure that they don’t spam the user with unwanted marketing communication as it may lead to user dropping off this communication channel.
The AI-driven chatbots can give almost human-like assistance to customers on WhatsApp. Businesses can personalise the customer experiences by customising the script as per the user interactions.
The entire interaction between the user and the chatbot is secure with end-to-end encryption.
WAB can be easily integrated into any CRM solution to help businesses manage the complete sales funnel and marketing process from the first interaction till the lead converts into a customer.
WAB can be integrated with marketing automation platforms such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud and others, to engage with the customer at every touchpoint throughout the customer journey with contextual communication. Based on user interactions, you can construct multiple customer journeys to facilitate a transaction.
Businesses can create Facebook ads and display banners, where clicking on the banners can allow a WhatsApp Chatbot (Assistant) to engage with the customer, or open a WhatsApp Customer Care interface for asking queries, etc.
WhatsApp platform allows brands to provide seamless multilingual interaction with customers without any additional technology investment. Communication in regional/local language helps brands to connect better with customers leading to higher satisfaction.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)