Customer service and its unloved cousin, advertising, have migrated in the last couple of years to a more layered landscape – and that should include WhatsApp, says Katrina Bell. It's the marketing tool you never knew you needed.
As your customers are more comfortable with a 1:1 digital-first experience, where expectations include always-on, personalised interactions, you can no longer afford to ignore the many capabilities of WhatsApp. After all, what your customers really want is getting a cogent answer in as timely a manner as is humanly possible.
The numbers stack up of course – WhatsApp claims over 2million active monthly users that can make confident use of its end-to-end encryption on messages sent between non-commercial users. Even the purchase by Facebook’s overlord Meta in 2014 has barely dinted consumer confidence that their data is not shared. Factor in the ability to create groups, send video, video chat as well as message, and it's not hard to understand its extensive reach for 2bn consumers.
Which also explains why Meta is making moves to monetise the platform for businesses, including ensuring that your WhatsApp profile is securely tethered to your commercial on Facebook. But for now in the UK there are plenty of tools to streamline your communications if you care to look under the hood.
Here are three time-busting tools to explore.
1. Options are your allies
Head towards Settings on an iPhone or More Options on Android and you will find tools such as Catalog for promoting products, services and new innovation. There are also several types of messaging tools so your customers receive ‘out of office’ notifications or custom quick replies that get the conversation moving. When Meta finally starts to collect revenue from WhatsApp this dashboard will substantially expand.
If you want to truly streamline your responses, templated responses have the benefit of allowing more than one employee to make use of the platform without there being a clunky handover.
2. Take time to explore
There’s no need to limit yourself to casual enquiries from your customers over text – get acquainted with the WhatsApp Business Platform API (Application Programming Interface) to see how you can integrate it into your daily marketing spend. Whether it’s updating buyers on shipment updates or reengaging with carts after they have been abandoned, consumers who are already fully committed to WhatsApp are more likely to engage with your communications. Customers can even order directly from within the app.
3. Better than text
Traditional SMS marketing has several downsides, not least the issue of informed consent. Sending promotions to your database of mobile numbers could result in a wave of users hitting the unsubscribe button. Also there is the inherent sloppiness of most people’s interactions over text. Download the desktop version of WhatsApp to maintain your professionalism and make it easier to ensure that the cadence of all your marketing activities are mirrored in your WhatsApp interactions. The two key factors in your effectiveness will be measured in your open rate – how often users hit that message, and interaction levels.