In August 2018, the WhatsApp Business API was released in beta. With its release, has come a whole new era of customer communication, one championing two-way, trustworthy and secure conversations between brands and their customers. As an app, WhatsApp has quickly become the most popular way for friends and family to enjoy quick and convenient conversations, delivered privately and securely. With 1.6 billion users globally, spanning 180 countries and delivering 60 billion messages each day, WhatsApp’s position as consumer’s preferred method of communication is more than secure. This is not to say that messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Line or Telegram are not as important. For example, Facebook Messenger is great for commerce purposes. But the sheer potential of how WhatsApp can revolutionize customer experiences cannot be underestimated and brands who do not start building capabilities in this area risk falling behind.
In this article, we’ll discuss 5 reasons why companies must use WhatsApp in the customer experience strategy.
1. Be where your customers are
Be it tweets, comments, posts or direct messages, in today’s
omnichannel world, customers move across multiple touchpoints. Companies must be present on each in order to create lifelong relationships that drivesadvocacy and retention. The WhatsApp Business API provides an opportunity for companies to build these trustworthy relationships on the world’s most popular messaging app. It also provides the potential to communicate to customers in all areas of the world. With more and more companies developing WhatsApp capabilities and opening this channel up to their customers, it will soon become an expectation that brands are available on WhatsApp and not being so will lead to customer expectations not being met.
2. Superior Customer Experience
The reason progressive companies are excited about the WhatsApp Business API is that it allows companies to build engagement programs that are personalized, convenient and trustworthy – the three core pillars of great customer experiences. With WhatsApp, companies can send appointment reminders, shipping alerts, order notifications, product demonstration videos, verification codes, boarding passes, customer surveys and support messages. With engagement rates much greater than traditional channels such as email and SMS, WhatsApp offers the opportunity to take business communications to the next level.
Sale Stock, the Indonesian fashion startup uses the API to deliver exceptional customer service, and is now the company’s primary source of chat traffic. They knew that its target customers use WhatsApp frequently and that they prefer the chat format for customer service inquiries.
3. Secure and Private Messaging
Data security and privacy is a hot topic in the digital era. How seriously companies take the privacy of their customer’s data has become an important consideration during the purchase decision making journey. The fact that WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption and prioritizes subscriber privacy makes it a great channel for companies to engage with their customers in a safe and private manner.
4. Creating lifelong relationships through 1-1 conversations
We’ve mentioned the potential fof WhatsApp as a way of sending convenient notification and alerts however it is also an enabler of real and human conversations. Today is the era of ‘conversational support’, where customers want to have real conversations with companies as opposed to engaging with automated systems. Messaging apps are the perfect platform for these conversations to happen particularly as they are being increasingly used to research, review and purchase services and products. They bring a level of convenience to customers that they have not had before, whereby rather than needing to visit your physical store or wait in line to speak to a customer service agent, they can have queries dealt with immediately.
In Brazil, mayonnaise giant Hellmann’s’ wanted to inspire their customer base to think of Mayonnaise as a cooking ingredient rather than just a condiment. They therefore created a campaign called ‘WhatsCook’, delivered through WhatsApp, that connected customers with real chefs to discuss cooking ideas.
5. Managing One Seamless Customer Journey
Managing the customer journey is today’s multi touchpoint environment can be difficult and complex. Customers move from touchpoint to touchpoint, both online and offline, researching and seeking assurances before potentially purchasing at any time via any channel. Not managed properly, sales and support teams can lose visibility on customer needs and deliver a poor customer experience. The benefit of WhatsApp in managing the customer journey is that it can be managed its in entirety via one conversation. Customers can move from considering a product/service, purchasing it and then getting support post purchase, without losing context. Done at scale, the opportunity to manage the entire customer journey within one conversation is hugely powerful. Companies who adapt to incorporate a messaging strategy in this manner will gain considerable competitive advantage.
The release of the WhatsApp Business API will transform how companies speak to their customers. Not only will it become the most powerful engagement tool available on the market, it will also change the nature of b2c relationships. The days of automated, robotic workflows are over. Companies must embrace creating human and conversational relationships with their customers, if not, they risk losing market share to their more progressive competitors.