WhatsApp is one currently one of the most preferred ways of communicating with others. Not only among friends and families, but even business enterprises are moving on to use WhatsApp as a major communication tool. Small scale business enterprises are already using WhatsApp to send and receive messages and interact with their customers.
The developers of the app have recently released a new app named WhatsApp Business to help medium and large scale business enterprises connect with their customers and reach their target audience residing around the world. With more than 1.5 billion users using WhatsApp for daily interaction, the new app has made it easier for business enterprises to stay in touch with their customers round the clock.
The WhatsApp Business app requires enterprises to have a valid phone number to download the app. Enterprises will then have to request early access to use the app. Many companies help the business enterprises to request and gain early access by providing them with the API integration services to connect the system, backend, and database to WhatsApp Business app.
WhatsApp cost is dependent on the usage of the app. The prices are calculated per message and vary based on the location of the users. Enterprises can purchase bulk message packages and avail a discount. The companies charge a fixed amount per message for using their platform as a medium to send messages. Most enterprises prefer to opt for bulk packages depending on the number of messages they usually have to send per day.
Enterprises will have to wait for developers of WhatsApp to verify and approve their credentials to be able to send messages to users. The process could take time as the developers are selectively approving business accounts. In the meantime, enterprises can use the app by using a feature known as the sandbox. The sandbox can be termed as a Smart Messaging API that allows enterprises to use WhatsApp for customer interaction.
WhatsApp requires enterprises to obtain explicit permissions from users to send them messages. Any business that sends messages without taking prior permission will end up having the WhatsApp account deleted by the developers.
Permissions can be taken in many ways, including physical copies or digital versions. Some of the ways are as follows.
- Customers can give a missed call to the specified phone number, stating their acceptance to receive opt-ins from the business.
- Customers can reply in acknowledgment to an email giving their permission.
- Customers can tick the option to receive notifications from business via WhatsApp.
Still, if the customer initiates a conversation by sending the first message to the business, the enterprise need not wait for explicit permission to send a reply. The enterprises can reply to a customer-initiated message without prior permission. But, it can be done only during the 24-hour window after the customer has sent the message.
Once the 24-hour period has lapsed without the enterprise not sending a reply, they will need to take permission to send a reply or they will have to wait for the customer to message them again so that the 24-hour period gets activated again. It is advised that enterprises should use this period effectively to keep the conversation alive by responding to customer messages as soon as possible.
Also, during the 24-hour window, enterprises can send freeform messages and promote their business. The cost of these messages is included in the package and is much less compared to the cost of the template (pre-approved message format), which means that there is no limit to the number of freeform messages that can be sent to the users.
Message templates are nothing but reusable message formats that any business enterprise would need. For example, a welcome message or a greeting to be displayed as the first message, a message to send the customer information about their order bookings and deliveries, and a message that informs customers when their complaint has been resolved.
More templates can be requested from the developers by providing them with the details about the type of the template a business would require to send on a regular basis. The parameters such as the name, id number, etc. can be changed for each message to personalize the messages for each customer.
Enterprises can test the features by opting for a trial pack for a day or so to understand how the process works. Then they can pick a message pack of their choice and start using the API platform to connect with their customers and the target audience. Smart bots can be created and used to send automated replies to users.