With WhatsApp Business, companies can communicate with customers quickly and easily. The service from Facebook opens up a wide range of possibilities that go well beyond quick customer support. This article explains what WhatsApp Business is all about, how it works and how companies can use it profitably.
WhatsApp has been part of the Facebook group since 2014 and is the most widely used instant Messenger with 2 billion users, including almost 60 million in Germany. The service has now become a cross-platform tool: there are now desktop and browser applications in addition to the popular smartphone app. The range of functions has also been continuously expanded. With WhatsApp Business, companies can also use the world’s most popular Messenger as a communication channel.
What Is WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business is a free app initially designed for small business owners. This allows them to present their products or services on WhatsApp and be available to customers. There is a unique interface with the WhatsApp Business API for medium-sized and large companies that need scalable solutions.
With WhatsApp Business, Facebook enables companies to communicate straightforward and fast with their customers, directly involved in their everyday lives. This immediacy creates user needs and expectations on the customer side, which companies have to consider. This can be both transactional
Set Up WhatsApp Business
Whether you decide to use the WhatsApp Business App or the WhatsApp Business API, the effort involved in configuration and implementation varies enormously. The main requirement for both variants is the creation of your company profile.
The WhatsApp Business app for small businesses can be downloaded free from the Apple App Store and Android Store. You need your telephone number, including a SIM card linked to the company profile, to set it up. If you use a personal mobile number, the personal WhatsApp account is closed, and only the company account remains. The app can only be used on a single smartphone – not on the computer and not by several people simultaneously.
Setting up the WhatsApp Business API is associated with more costs and possibly more effort. Access to the API is only possible via a business solution provider certified by Facebook (e.g., MessengerPeople ). The API can also be used to enable your CRM systems to access WhatsApp, or a CRM tool from the Business Solution Provider can be used.
Data protection has been an essential aspect that companies have to consider when communicating with customers since the GDPR. The most crucial point regarding data protection concerns the opt-in:
Companies should never contact customers without their prior consent. The first contact must come from the customer, and instruction – also possible in a link – must be provided about the data protection regulations.
In addition, the following applies:
- No newsletters or promotional messages have been allowed to be sent since 2019
- Companies must provide an imprint or link (§ 5 TMG also applies to WhatsApp).
If WhatsApp Business is used via the API, data protection compliance is always guaranteed by Facebook itself. However, this is not the case in the app variant. Here, companies themselves have to ensure that they adhere precisely to the applicable data protection regulations.
How Can I Use WhatsApp Business?
The first step for successful use is to inform customers about the new contact option via WhatsApp. Since the first contact has to come from the customer, it is essential to position the WhatsApp telephone number at all touchpoints. These include:
- as a contact option on the website as well as in-store
- ScantoChat QR Codes on the website or in physical form
- Note in the service hotline (“The waiting time is x minutes. For simple inquiries, please write to us on WhatsApp at …)
- Signature in the email support: “PS for direct service writes to us via WhatsApp at …”
Analogous to the implementation and configuration, the app’s range of functions and possible uses and API variants also differ.
WhatsApp Business App
In the app version, companies can present their services in Messenger on their company profile. Message templates can also be created for quick replies to frequently asked questions. Incoming messages can be sorted, answered, and also archived quickly. Out-of-office notices can also be made for incoming messages outside of business hours.
WhatsApp Business API
The functionality of the API includes the functions of the app but is still a lot larger. With the API variant, existing (or new) CRM systems can be linked so that WhatsApp can easily be integrated into CRM as an additional channel. In terms of functions, WhatsApp differentiates between customer care and notifications.
- Under Customer Care, every interaction falls posed by customers. If the company replies to a message within 24 hours, all messages are free of charge.
- Notifications are conversations that the company initiates. These can only be sent if the customer has previously agreed to notify a particular process via WhatsApp. This includes, for example, order and shipping confirmations or delay alarms. Here each message costs 7ct.
In addition, the integration of a chatbot is possible with the API variant. This can be programmed as required and thus answer the most frequently asked questions authentically around the clock – this means that out-of-office messages are a thing of the past. However, there must always be the opportunity to come into contact with a natural person. Initial results show that customers have no problems communicating with chatbots as long as they identify themselves and can help them quickly. The integration of a chatbot in particular also opens up new possibilities for using WhatsApp creatively for marketing.
How Does Marketing Work Via WhatsApp?
WhatsApp Business usage guidelines make marketing more complicated but not impossible. Push marketing measures that the company uses to address customers are not possible or, with the Business API, are only allowed for transactional messages. Therefore, pull marketing efforts must be geared towards the customer coming into contact with the company via WhatsApp. Practical tools for establishing connection are click-to-chat links or QR codes from WhatsApp.
With the click-to-chat links, companies can make it easy for potential customers to start a WhatsApp chat. With a click-to-chat link or QR code, users can create a WhatsApp chat directly without saving their phone number. These links or QR codes can also be integrated into classic digital or print campaigns.
A few examples of innovative customer service via WhatsApp:
- The Employment Agency has made career advice possible for adolescents and young adults via WhatsApp.
- With the “Don’t Call Mom – Call ADAC” campaign via WhatsApp, the ADAC has successfully reached a target group for whom neither a car nor the ADAC is attractive.
- Deutsche Bahn has a WhatsApp number that can report contamination in train stations to be removed.
Conclusion & Outlook
WhatsApp Business is a versatile tool that enables companies to be reached on the world’s most widely used Messenger. In addition to fast and uncomplicated customer support via chatbot, it also allows creative marketing measures. Mark Zuckerberg has announced that WhatsApp will also introduce an integrated payment function with which purchases can be made directly in Messenger. This function is already being tested in India; it will start in German-speaking countries is not yet known. By then, however, WhatsApp Business will become indispensable for companies of all sizes – so it pays to be prepared.