We live in interesting times. With the increasing penetration of the internet and ample data availability, the “Information Age or the Data Age” is well and truly here. This phenomenon has led to a massive growth in social media and chat platforms.
They have truly changed the way companies interact with their customers. Today, any organization of repute has a substantial online presence. One of the most important platforms that exist today is WhatsApp.
When Facebook bought WhatsApp for ~US$ 19 billion in 2014, the business world was in a way flabbergasted with the amount. However; little did they realize its enormous potential.
Today there are more than 1.5 billon active daily users with over 75 billion messages being exchanged on the platform daily.
If these numbers aren’t staggering enough, the active monthly users rise to 2 billion or twenty five percent of the world`s population. It is difficult to finds another platform with this big a reach.
The engagement level is also high, with each user sending 50 messages per day on average.
Up until now WhatsApp was primarily used for personal chats, WhatsApp has now come up with WhatsApp for Business.
Given the enormous presence of users on this platform, this could open up huge potential opportunities for the business and radically change the way the business interacts with its customers.
Let’s explore what the platform offers for business.
For WhatsApp its simple policy is user first. The platform aims to ensure a high quality user experience at all times and WhatsApp for Business is no different.
There are different types of messages a business can send and this varies depending upon the type of business account being used. There are primarily two different types of solutions
1. WhatsApp Business App
2. WhatsApp Business API
These are primarily created directed and sued depending upon the size and scale of the organizations. One of these is for small business and other for larger organizations.
WhatsApp business app
is primarily being used the smaller business to segregate their personal and professional conversations and operate them in silos. Through this app, the business can interact with its current and potential customers and address their needs.
The app also allows for some automation features in terms of auto-replying and sending programmed messages. For creating a WhatsApp business app, a separate phone sim card is needed and a single user is allowed for the business.
WhatsApp Business API
is primarily directed at large multinational organizations with a global presence. While earlier the API was restricted to large conglomerate level companies, the API has now been opened to other companies too. To successfully create a WhatsApp API account requires prior approval of WhatsApp.
Since this is a Access Program Interface (API), a lot of the final functionality will depend on the WhatsApp partner providing the API. One of the most popular uses of the API is the ones employed by travel companies to send tickets.
Normally the API comes bundled with anti-spamming and price restrictions to encourage seamless interaction.
Today we look at WhatsAPP business APP in slightly more detail
Setting up Business WhatsApp Account
To use the WhatsAPP Business app one needs a dedicated phone number. The business account is tied to the phone number and only one account can be created for the phone number.
The same number cannot have both personal and business WhatsAPP. They must be be separate numbers.
- After the phone number is setup, one needs to go to Google play store to download the WhatsApp for business in case of android mobiles or istore in case of iphone.
- WhatsApp for business is different from the regular WhatsApp and is denoted by the “B” letter in the logo.
- After downloading the app one needs to verify the phone number which can be done via a code sent by WhatsApp.
- If the same number was used for personal WhatsApp, you will have an option to change your WhatsApp to business WhatsApp.
- You can also move your personal media and messages to the Business WhatsApp. Post this step you are now ready to use the app.
WhatsApp Business Account Features
The Business WhatsAPP provides a few distinct features over the personal WhatsApp. These are primarily the below
- Business Profile
- Contact Labels
- Statistics access
- Short links
- Automated greeting and away messages
- Quick reply messages
- Broadcast messages
Let us look at each of these in detail
1. Business Profile on WhatsApp Business Account
The profile feature lets you add your business details and creates a description of your business activities. This useful for the prospective customers trying to reach out to you as they can be get reasonable details about your business prior to contacting you
To access this feature go to Open Settings > Business settings > Profile.
You will get the following option to edit
- Business name: Here you can mention your company name
- Phone number: This is the number you have used to register and this remains the same as the one who have used to create the account
- Description: Here you can add the business description, products and services.
- Business Address: Here you can mention your business address and can also choose a Google maps location for the same.
- Business category: This is a drop down box which gives multiple business categories. Choose the one which is most suitable for your business or which best describes your industry
- Business hours: Here we can add business work hours and can define hours for each day of the week
- Email: Here append your business email
- Website: Here you can append up-to two websites
- Other: Here you can select a predefined status or select a custom status
2. Create ‘Lebels’ in Business WhatsApp Account
This feature lets the business to categorize their contacts by labelling the contact and organizing them. This allows to easily search the contact and organize them into relevant groups for broadcast.
To add a new label to a contact: Go to client menu button > choose a label and save
Steps to add label:
Go to Client menu button > Click : New label” > save
3. Create Catalogue in Business WhatsApp Account
To access this feature go to Open Settings > Business settings > Catalogue
This is a unique feature which lets you create a product catalogue. The catalogue lets you add products or service you offer.
By clicking on ADD PRODUCT OR SERVICE, it takes you to a page which allows the following options
- Add images: You can add pics of the product or service
- Product or service name: You can name the product or service
- Price: This is an optional field
- Description: Here you can describe your product or service
- Link: Here you can append an online link of a product or successful
- Product or service code: Here you can define a product code
4. Statistics access
To access this feature go to Open Settings > Business settings > Statistics
This option lets you see the following options
- Messages sent: This lists the total messages sent by you
- Messages delivered: This lists the total messages delivered out of the total sent
- Messages read: This lists the number of messages actually read by your customers
- Messages received: This lists the total messages received by you
This provides useful information with regard to the responsiveness of the customers and lets you gauge the success of your messages. A high degree indicates good response and messaging success and indicates you content is working
5. Short link
To access this feature go to Open Settings > Business settings > Short link
You can create a short link to create a short url that your customers can use to chat with you, You cans hare these short links with your customers via multiple channels. You can also apply the Default message option to create a template message you can send to all customers with this short link.
6. Automated greeting and away messages
To access this feature go to Open Settings > Business settings > Away message
This feature allows a certain degree of automation by setting “Send away message” to on. Here you can set a default Away Message which you can schedule to send. Typical away messages are used when you are not able to respond to the customer owing to reason like message being received outside office hours or otherwise.
7. The schedule for AWAY message has three option
- Always send: Always sends this reply
- Custom schedule: You can schedule the hours when this message can be sent
- Outside of business hours: based on the business hears you defined this can be
Additionally the app lets you customize the recipients of this away message as well.
The following options appear
- Everyone: sends the message to everyone who contacts you
- Everyone not in the address book: Send the message to everyone who is not a part of your contact list
- Everyone except: Sends the message to everyone except the one who specifically mention
- One send to: Sends messages only to the one whose specify
8. Similar to away messages the app also has greetings messages.
To access this feature go to Open Settings > Business settings > Greeting message
This feature allows a certain degree of automation by setting “Send greeting message” to on. This feature allows you to greet your customers whenever they contact you on your business WhatsApp.
Here you can have a default defined greeting message which welcome your customer every time they contact you.
With options similar to Away messages, you can customize you recipients as well.
9. Quick reply messages
To access this feature go to Open Settings > Business settings > Quick replies
This lets you create defined templates for messages for quickly responding to customers.
These are defined using “/”
Using the following fields you can create quick reply messages
- Message: Actual message you want to send using quickly reply
- Shortcut: Normally “/” followed by the shortcut name is used
- Keywords: You can use up to three keywords of 15 characters each for a shortcut. These are normally used to help identify shortcuts.
For instance using /thanks you can create a thanks message like “Thank you for doing business with us.
We look forward to serving you again”. Now whenever you type “/thanks” in the reply box to any customer, the said message in its entirety will be sent.
Similarly you can creates various other templates. Thus this serves an extremely useful feature to quickly respond to multiple customers without having to type out the entire message fully
10. Broadcast messages
To access this feature go to WhatsAPP Menu > New broadcast message.
This app lets to send same messages as a broadcast to your contacts. Similar to messaging there is no restriction on the type of message being broadcasted. However the broadcasting is restricted to 256 contacts.
The business App has certain pros and cons
Business WhatsApp Account Advantages
- Easy setup
- No limitations on the messages
- Broadcasting allows all type of content
Business WhatsApp Account Disadvantages
- The account can be used by only one person and on a specified device
- Limited automation
- External plugins/ apps cannot be interfaced
To sum it up, WhatsApp for Business as immense potential to become an extensive go to solution for all kinds of varied small and medium sized businesses.
It can be used as a mass communication tool especially in countries where WhatsAPP has a large presence.
Given the popularity of the platform, it seems to be a matter of time before WhatsApp for business replicate the popularity of the personal messaging service.