What makes WhatsApp a great solution for B2C communication
WhatsApp is familiar, and we use it often
To look at the key takeaways, skip to the bottom of the article.
I became a user of WhatsApp at a time when the annual subscription fee had been waived off. In the 5 years of my usage since 2015, WhatsApp has evolved a lot from the chat-only app to one that supports sharing multimedia statuses, with a simple UI the young and the elderly can use with ease.
Over time, though I tried out various chatting apps such as Telegram, Messenger and Hangouts, I kept coming back to WhatsApp. The simple reason was: most of my contacts used WhatsApp.
The question of how WhatsApp earns their revenue crept into the back of my mind many times, probably like it did for many of its users. WhatsApp’s latest venture will definitely answer this line of thought.
WhatsApp has provided a launchpad for businesses to connect seamlessly with their customers at a place they visit almost 23–25 times daily — their WhatsApp. The way they have targeted different business sizes deserves mention.
Their solution for small businesses and freelancers is an enhanced version of the regular WhatsApp called “WhatsApp for Business” which is free of cost. For the medium and large businesses, they have rolled out WhatsApp Business API, which can be used for customized chat responses and will be monetized.
WhatsApp for Business — The App
This app is very similar to the one we’re familiar with, but with additional features relevant to a business. This lets you customize your profile with relevant information about your business, working hours and links to websites.
Another insightful addition is a section for catalogs. The business can list the products and services being offered along with their prices, allowing the potential customer to have a look at all the products in one go. And it saves the small business owner a ton of time spent in sending the same document or image to multiple customers again and again.
The app also allows you to label your customers for quick reference. For example, you can label the customer as someone who paid for the product, or someone who wants to be contacted once a product comes back into stock.
WhatsApp for Business combines the best of both worlds — the familiarity of WhatsApp, both for the small business owner and the customer.
WhatsApp can leverage this familiarity to prevent the business owner from moving to a different solution for reaching customers. This will help Facebook monetize WhatsApp, when these small businesses grow in the future.
In India, where WhatsApp’s user base (as of 2020) is over 400 million, there is a lot of scope for monetization when some of these businesses become larger.
WhatsApp for Business — the API
This is a go to solution for medium and large businesses who cannot afford to chat with their customers on a one-to-one basis. The API allows them to customize their chats with their customers via WhatsApp. These chats are mostly automated and may not be managed by real humans. They are like the calls to customer care, but more efficient, as they know what you’re looking for.
They may eventually lead to a conversation with a real customer care person. Businesses may even be allowed to integrate bots into the chatting mechanism — it’s unclear based on the information available about this feature.
To market on WhatsApp Business API, Facebook has partnered with over 46 Business Solution providers who specialize in WhatsApp business to consumer messaging. These partners are listed in the WA Business API provider directory, and offer varied solutions from marketing and customer care to audience intelligence. This saves the businesses the time to find the right third-party solutions provider.
This API, which currently is in use at a small capacity, has immense potential to improve customer engagement in the near future.
With chat capability enabled only for those customers who explicitly opt for communication via WhatsApp, and the inherent end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp ensures satisfaction and privacy of the customer while guaranteeing a good reach for the business.
Here’s why I think companies will succeed in reaching customers via WhatsApp.
- WhatsApp is familiar, and we use it often
- Your queries are answered real-time
- Important documents are hand delivered
- Saves a lot of time in calling customer care to get your queries answered
- The business apps are often cumbersome and confuse new users, as each one is entirely different from the other
- Integration of payment facility over WhatsApp (a possibility in the near future) will make the business communication even simpler
While these new features offered by WhatsApp are a welcome addition to the host of functionalities they offer already, a significant feature I find missing is the WhatsApp bot. Telegram is doing well in this respect, with options to link customized bots into the familiar platform.
In the age of digital education where virtual classroom discussions happen on WhatsApp groups, the option to plug in an educational chatbot to help the student learn, correct and reach out to the teacher seamlessly would be a great addition.
Thanks to Aditya Vivek Thota XQ.