WhatsApp Business API At a Glance – Features, Potentials, and Costs
Professional, data-protection-compliant customer communication via WhatsApp? The WhatsApp Business API – rolled out in August 2018 – makes this possible for enterprise companies.
However, for a lot of companies, it’s kind of a hurdling block to implement the WhatsApp Business Solution without support and software from a verified WhatsApp Business Solution Provider, like MessengerPeople. With the Messenger Communication Platform, companies can centrally manage their customer communication and customer service over WhatsApp (WhatsApp Business API), Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, Viber, and Telegram.
First, let’s take a look at the WhatsApp Business Solution in a more general context. The most-used, most-popular messaging app worldwide, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year, was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and integrated into the Facebook ecoysystem.
WhatsApp has been the leading global messaging app for years. Companies who offer customer service via WhatsApp have a clear advantage over the competition – and are rewarded with higher customer loyalty.
Matthias Mehner, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at MessengerPeople
Four years later, in the beginning of 2018, WhatsApp announced that they were introducing the WhatsApp Business App to help smaller and medium-sized companies communicate with their (interested) customers via WhatsApp.
Since then, companies have been able to implement customer service via WhatsApp, using official, verified company profiles. However, the Business App can only take companies so far — there are a variety of factors which considerably reduce the potential for comprehensive business usage. This includes the fact that the Business App is not GDPR-compliant, and has insufficient scalability.
The WhatsApp Business App is also unsuitable for enterprise companies because it lacks important features such as user administration, role management, ticket system support, an API for external CRM systems, and a solution for data protection.
From the standard WhatsApp app via the WhatsApp Business App to the WhatsApp Business Solution (API):
The WhatsApp ecosystem
As of August 2018, there is now a Business Solution for bigger companies: the official WhatsApp Business API. The Business API allows companies to receive and send WhatsApp messages. In comparison to the WhatsApp Business App, companies using the Business API are more reliant on the support of verified WhatsApp Business Solution providers such as MessengerPeople.
Background: The abbreviation API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API makes it possible to connect different software services to realize specific processes and applications.
Looking at the WhatsApp Business API, this means that with WhatsApp’s approval and verification, MessengerPeople offers a software which allows companies to use WhatsApp for professional customer communication.
With the help of the Messenger Communication Platform the WhatsApp Business API is used in the relationship between customer and company in two main situations: for customer service (the customer contacts the business) and so-called notifications (the company contacts the customer).
Before we look at the WhatsApp Business Solution’s potential, we’ll first explain how exactly you can implement the API.
- Similar to the WhatsApp Business App, the basic condition for using the WhatsApp Business API is a verified WhatsApp company profile, which you can create using the Facebook Business Manager.
- In the second step, companies need a telephone number for their WhatsApp customer service channel. Mobile, landline, and toll-free numbers are all possible. Note: the phone number can’t have been used for WhatsApp within the last six months.
- On the Facebook Developer Site WhatsApp offers a comprehensive explanation for the technical implementation. If companies choose to work together with a verified WhatsApp Business Solution Provider like MessengerPeople, then these take over the complete technical integration and offer full support.
Six months after the introduction of the API, we see that implementing the WhatsApp Business Solution without a verified provider’s professional support is a bigger hurdling block for companies. But this channel offers great potential for companies to attract new customers and improve their relationship with current customers. By automating their customer communication via messaging apps, companies save time and valuable resources.
Matthias Mehner, CMO bei MessengerPeople
BMW (Munich Branch) is already using the WhatsApp Business Solution.
Messaging apps are today’s leading form of communication. Our WhatsApp Automotive Workshop Service, used to inform customers about their vehicle’s repair status, is already extremely successful. The automation possibilities have made our customer service much more efficient. With the WhatsApp Business Solution features we are raising our customer support to a new level. Thanks to MessengerPeople, the integration was quick and simple. Additionally, with the Messenger Communication Platform, we’re able to offer our service over other messaging apps such as Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram, and still manage the communication centrally.
Albert Rösch, Leader of Consultation & Support, BMW AG (Munich branch)
The Business Solution features are specifically tailored to scalable customer communication (customer service & customer engagement) via WhatsApp. Concrete value for the customer is the central focus: protection against spam, and full compliance with data privacy regulations.
- With Click-to-Chat-Buttons for websites and Facebook, customers can use WhatsApp as a direct, low-threshold channel for inquiries to companies. According to a representative study made by MessengerPeople in cooperation with German research institution YouGov, customers far prefer contacting businesses over chat than over a website or social media.
- If a customer asks a company a question over WhatsApp, a 24-hour-window opens. Within this window, the company can individually communicate with the customer via chat and WhatsApp doesn’t charge any further costs for the service. This immediate support should serve to raise customer satisfaction. WhatsApp calls messages within the 24-hour-window Session Messages.
- Notifications: Notifications are fee-based WhatsApp messages, which companies can use to send information and alerts to willing customers.
Pratical examples include changes to flight times, appointment reminders, booking or payment confirmations, or information about product delivery. For Notifications, companies are required to use Template Messages, which WhatsApp approves to make sure they meet regulations – for example, no spam.
Matthias Mehner, CMO at MessengerPeople
- The Template Messages make messaging app customer communication scalable. The WhatsApp Business API can be used to send standardized messages (such as welcome messages, two-factor-authentication processes like in online banking, booking and payment confirmations, delivery information, reminders, etc.)
- WhatsApp also creates a model for the Template Messages, which is specifically to be used for asking customers if their inquiry has been resolved, or whether they need further support. This focus on Issue Resolution helps companies identify and solve open customer service inquiries, and thereby raise their customer service quality and ensure a positive customer experience.
- Customer service only! Currently the WhatsApp Business Solution doesn’t support news or deal Notifications.
Using WhatsApp, even for business communication, is always free for customers. However, in contrast to the free WhatsApp Session Messages within the 24-hour window, the WhatsApp Template Messages outside of that customer initiated 24-hour time period are fee-based for companies. The price per Template Message is country-specific. You can find the up-to-date prices for each country worldwide here.
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