WhatsApp for Business, courtesy Chatbots
WhatsApp is the #1 Messaging App for countless countries around the world. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, Whatsapp is the undisputed king in certain markets, dominating over all others, and almost has a monopoly in this sector.
WhatsApp on January 18th 2018 launched a separate app, WhatsApp Business for small businesses to more easily connect with customers. It is quite obvious to me that this has been an attempt by WhatsApp to address the need of chatbots to the growing population especially the business community.
Messaging is global, it’s the preferred communication method for the largest consumer group on the planet (thanks to millennials) and now, especially on the heels of this new announcement, businesses cannot afford to ignore messaging — and the opportunity for simple and convenient one on one communication with their customers at scale.
The basic principle of the newly introduced WhatsApp Business Accounts is: enabling businesses to communicate with their clients.
Businesses will be able to manage their Whatsapp Business account the same way they manage their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profiles.
Plenty of small businesses are already using WhatsApp to reach their customers, albeit in a cumbersome and unofficial way. Providing support for Business Accounts will bring them a much-needed upgrade in the communications of small enterprises particularly.
This is a clear indicator of Whatsapp’s view that the future of messaging is streamlining B2C communication and service, with the help of chatbots.
The world is moving fast in terms of how communication in the technological sense. So if people want platforms that have chatbots, WhatsApp will surely need to follow suit or else risk losing money and users.
Your customers will have to opt-in to your notifications when providing their phone number in your website.
A green badge will indicate that the business phone has been verified by WhatsApp.
WhatsApp has the potential to be the king for business to consumer communication, providing a utility-focused, spam-free communication channel.
Waiting as long as they have to launch this, Whatsapp has been able to benefit from learning from other platforms’ mistakes and successes (most notably Facebook Messenger). The potential downside for waiting is it now has to figure out where it fits within an already formed and in some cases a mature ecosystem.
It’s a hyper-optimized focus on customer experience and customer journey. The good news for marketers and businesses is that it means over time, a multi-channel focus will evolve to an interconnectedness that your customers access from one central point.
That interconnectedness will converge within the messaging space, via chatbots and advancement in NLP and AI.
To date, third-party developers do not have access to the WhatsApp platform. This is a huge trough in reach and a din to organizations that want to capitalize on it, but also has its own pros and cons.
Users, whether on mobile or on a desktop, can access this all in one space and do so while performing other functions.
An increasingly intelligent virtual guide from banking to healthcare and travel will result, down the road, in a personalized service experience with deep understanding and deep learning based on your interactions across industries.
As you may have realised by now, WhatsApp Business currently does not support searching for businesses on WhatsApp.
The business owner will need to have your contact number and add you to their WhatsApp contacts to begin an interaction or add you to a group.
It feels a bit rudimentary at the moment, but with messaging features onboard, WhatsApp Business has plenty of chances of turning into something really big and the addition of WhatsApp Payments should work as a catalyst.
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Advantages over SMS
Likewise, expect rich customer service will grow in parallel to SMS/MMS, particularly among Android users.
Essentially, WhatsApp is an “SMS/MMS 2.0,” an update on rich media offerings in size allowance, access of other tools on our device and programs while using it.
The service connects via your number and carrier, but the make-up, largely cloud-based, means you can create and provide conversational layers without the multi-step friction that currently happens for users download Facebook Messenger, install an app, etc.
- WhatsApp, has one definitive advantage: with messages popping up directly on the user’s phone screen, they offer immediate contact!
- Messenger Marketing is fast, direct, and personal: it allows you to command the user’s complete attention!
- The integration with chatbots will allow them to become part of the customer’s everyday life because they contact the customer over their most-used platform.
- WhatsApp supports an easy exchange of media from companies to customers.
- This will officially announce the demise of SMS for whatever little use it had. No more searching important information in your SMS inbox amidst all the OTP and spam messages.
- To some extent, it will decrease the dependency on email. No longer searching for important emails amidst all the promotional, spam, transaction, social notifications and updates among others.
It’s no surprise that chatbots work well as the solutions for better customer service and customer experience across industries for:
- Creating and tracking insurance claims.
- Personal online banking.
- Booking travel accommodations and flights.
- Service support internally.
- Providing broader mental health access.
Differences from regular WhatsApp
While it looks very similar to the regular chatting app, there are some key differences within the business version.
Thought the apps belong to the same company, the new business app had a different logo with the phone icon being replaced by a ‘B for business’. The logo is easily recognizable to frequent users, yet capable of differentiating between the two apps.
Register Landline Numbers
The new WhatsApp allows businesses to use their landline numbers to register for the app. This is an improvement over the regular chat tool, as it allows only mobile number holders to register for the app. You can also include the type of business you are, a family owned or corporate business, while you register.
You can now set up automated responses using WhatsApp. If an inquiry comes in for a product or about your business, you set up automatic replies. This way, you can connect with your customers even if you are unavailable to chat at that particular moment. For example, if someone
For example, if someone messages after closing hours, you can send a message saying, “Sorry, we are closed at the moment. We will get back to you first thing in the morning.”
You can reduce the risk of fraudulent companies messaging your users. WhatsApp now gives business a green tick (shown below) as proof of their authenticity. This is one way that users will know that they are not being scammed and are interacting with actual businesses.
Any tool that is being used for businesses needs to be measured. Messages also mean data. This way you can keep a track of how well the app works for you.
Data that can be used to better understand your customers and offer better services, growing your business along the way. To this end, WhatsApp Business offers messaging statistics, a feature that provides business owners with simple metrics about the number of messages that were sent, delivered and read so that they can tweak the content of quick replies or their strategy of contacting their customers.
A small, but useful feature indeed.
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Utilities of WhatsApp Business
So far, it is understood that WhatsApp is a huge asset for companies, but how exactly can marketers make use of this platform? The use cases are many and if done right can bridge the gap between you and your consumer to a great extent.
I don’t think any marketer can ever resist promoting their products on any platform. You can send them
- New product releases
- Promo codes and much more.
Since this is a one on one communication with your clients, make sure that the message is worth their time.
Relevant promotions based on their website behaviour could work wonders for you. However o,ver utilisation of this may lead to the user getting annoyed and labeling your company as ‘spam’.
BloombergQuint is the first English-language business platform in India to utilise WhatsApp as a platform for promotion of digital media and thus expanding the horizons of modern-age journalism. This service is free and it sends you the news snippets everyday, along with market highlights and analysis, all in moderate doses.
To subscribe, save their number to your WhatsApp contacts, and message “Start BQ” to begin receiving updates from BloombergQuint.
And it is equally simple to opt out of the service, just message “Stop” to the saved number anytime and you’ll no longer receive the updates.
Updating Order Status
BookMyShow is one of the very first companies in India who has begun using WhatsApp for business. They show us an example of how you can use it to send tickets to those who book movies through the platform.
You can send order status, order tracking links etc. on WhatsApp to keep the user updated on their transaction. Here is a screenshot:
To Send Reminders
People, especially millennials have becoming used to checking WhatsApp on a daily basis much like (or maybe more than) a newspaper. Which means that if they have a policy that needs renewing or a flight that needs to be boarded the next day, you can send a message reminding them of it. This way you can also reduce the risk of them missing out on important deadlines.
GoIbibo had announced integration with WhatsApp where it will allow its customers to book their desired flight seat on the social messaging platform. It is successfully leveraging the platform to confirm user bookings, and send reminders including provision and a PDF copy of ticket confirmations
Once the customer finds a free seat they can simply reply with their desired seat number and Goibibo books and confirms that seat for them. In case, the customer selects a premium seat, the bot sends a payment link and the seat is confirmed after processing the payment.
In a statement, Goibibo claims that it saw seat booking increase by 5X in just first few days of the feature being rolled out to its customers. The feature is currently supported on IndiGo bookings and will be live across all major domestic and international airlines soon.
Having a dissatisfied customer is an ill omen, but having one who has no proper place to complain can become a disaster. They might resort to posting on social media about their experience resulting in negative publicity for you. But, using a trusted platform like WhatsApp where they can reach out personally can help improve your relationship with them
Additionally, having a one on one platform will increase their feeling of entitlement and push them to buy from you more.
Oyo has brought the convenience of real time connection to the hotel-booking process via a WhatsApp chatbot. They have used the application to send hotel pictures, confirmation email screenshots if customers did not receive them by SMS, chat with the customer to answer their questions or resolve issues.
In case of a connectivity issue, Oyo will send you an SMS in addition to the WhatsApp message, which is sent from a verified profile.
Banking, Financial Services and Insurance
In this age of information overload, retail investors often find it a time-consuming process to track updates related to markets as well as their investment portfolio.
Axis Bank launched its chatbot which combines the convenience by leveraging WhatsApp as a medium of communication and offers personalisation by sending relevant content to users.
This feature provides not only personalised alerts, research ideas and market updates via WhatsApp but also can fetch live portfolio values, stock quotes, index values or even answer investor queries on chat.
Since security is the top concern in banking services, the inbuilt end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp makes it highly secure.
This step allows the investors to make informed financial decisions in a simplistic and innovative manner.
Since WhatsApp is a platform that extensively supports video content, you can even send over product videos. If someone leaves a demo request, you can send over videos to his WhatsApp directly. This is a good use case, especially for businesses that have products that require assistance.
Get Reviews and Ratings
You can get your customers to review your product or service. Give them links or options to reply to a survey. WhatsApp being a go-to platform for communication can actually motivate your customers to give you more accurate feedback. Give them innovative ways to give feedback and they will actually interact with you.
The platform has gone beyond being a no-frills, free instant messaging service to include features like video calls and Instagram-like disappearing status messages. Earlier this month, it launched a peer-to-peer payments feature – a million users are currently on its beta version in India. The full-feature version will be released if the beta one is successful.
The real win for WhatsApp, however, is in enterprise customers. Until now, the scale of the bigger companies made it impossible to use the service to communicate effectively.
With the new Business Accounts, WhatsApp has the potential to become a priority communication channel, which brings massive growth opportunity for both WhatsApp, and the businesses on it.
However, this may also backfire. This move has the potential for it to become as chaotic as our SMS and email inboxes are today. Brands will walk on an extremely thin line between helpful and intrusive.
Only time will tell on how marketers and businesses approach this.
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