WhatsApp Business is the latest tool of the communication giant. Its aim? Giving businesses a new, more personal way of communicating with its customers. But is WhatsApp really the channel to go for with your omni-channel communication? Let’s overview this technology and compare it to its best-known alternatives.
What are WhatsApp Business’ specificities?
With WhatsApp Business, companies can enjoy a closer and easier communication with their customers. Features such as creating automated replies, using quick-reply codes or basic statistics, makes the app offer a simple and free communication channel that suits basic business needs. However, even if these features seem handy at first, the app comes with some disadvantages that should make you think twice before adopting it.
A WhatsApp Business account is limited to one phone number and one device cannot have multiple accounts opened at the same time. This means that you need to buy a specific phone to run the app if you want to continue using your personal WhatsApp account simultaneously. Larger businesses would need to have multiple accesses to be able to provide a good level of service. There are also rumors about the launch of a WhatsApp for Enterprise app for these companies. This makes it clear to us that the app mainly aims small sized businesses.
If you are a small sized company who is considering to use WhatsApp Business, it is important to ask yourself these 2 questions: Do you want to integrate WhatsApp as a communication channel? And do your customers want to interact over this channel?
Do you want to integrate WhatsApp as a communication channels?
To determine whether you want to use WhatsApp as a business communication channel, you should start with thinking about its applications. So, what can WhatsApp Business be used for?
The app’s creators favor the usage of the app for customer support. If you are willing to work with the facts stated above, meaning having a specific phone dedicated to WhatsApp and appointing one person to the task, then WhatsApp for business might be a good solution for you.
To be able to interact with customers on WhatsApp Business, you will need to ask for a specific account. Having the consent to use a customer’s phone number is different than having the consent to use their WhatsApp profile. This means you will need to ask for a specific opt-in. This isn’t a problem when you plan on using the App for customer support, as your customer would most likely engage the interaction. But this does rule out transactional messaging from the scope of possibilities.
You should also be aware of the fact that the app is not suited for bulk messaging. With a limit of 20 messages sent per second, commercial usage with correct delivery results is impossible to achieve if you have a reasonable database. Also, implementing the WhatsApp API that allows to send out bulk messages is quite heavy and requires the intervention of a developer. Again, this is not an issue to use WhatsApp Business for customer support as you will most likely write to individual customers only through this channel.
Do your customers want customer support through WhatsApp?
If you have decided that WhatsApp Business is the missing tool for your customer support, let’s see what the customer’s point of view is on using this communication channel for interactions with a company.
Generally, WhatsApp is used as a private communication channel. Your customers probably use it to exchange with their families and friends on a daily basis. The problem is that, even if you are very close to your customers, they probably do not consider you as a friend or a family member.
However, these are speculations. The best way to know if your customers would like to contact you on WhatsApp, is to ask them! You could integrate a question in a support customer survey to find out, for example. Make sure that your question is precise enough for them to understand that they will need to give you a specific consent to use that channel and that they will need to share their account information with you.
If your customers let you know that they want to use WhatsApp for customer support, you will need to dig into personal data management to make sure that WhatsApp fits your company’s standard. Even if it’s not the only channel accused of abusing user’s data privacy, the media has been criticized for its shortage in this area. The Electronic Frontier Foundation assesses several media each year on their data management policies and in their report of July 2017, WhatsApp has been ranked only with 2 stars out of 5.
Which solution is best to communicate with customers?
Depending on the type of message you want to send out and your customers’ habits, the channels can differ. For example, in this article you will find a comparison of 3 communication channels to use for your customer survey. In the following lines, you will find 3 channels you can use depending on your needs.
Implementing WhatsApp Business
If after reading this you want to start using WhatsApp Business, the implementation without the API is quite easy. Just download the app, create your account and get ready to answer your customer’s questions. Your customers will expect quick answers on WhatsApp, so you will need to be reactive on your channel. Depending on your customer support’s workload, you need to analyze this point in advance to make sure you will be able to perform such a service. Remember, only one person at the time can use the platform.
SMS for transactional and promotional content
If you already have your customer’s phone numbers and their consent to use it, why not communicate by SMS instead of asking for a second consent to use WhatsApp? This will provide you with more stability when sending out a campaign: you already have their consent and there are some powerful tools that you can use to make sure your message arrives.
If you are looking for a communication channel that will allow more personalization for promotional messaging, maybe you’re better off waiting for RCS to arrive. The functionalities will be similar to the functionalities on WhatsApp and you will not have to ask for another opt-in.
A website Chat for immediate customer support
Most companies provide immediate customer support through a chat on their website. While this communication channel is not as close to the customer as WhatsApp is, it also does not invade the customer’s personal space. They can contact you whenever they want, without having to share their personal data to do so.