WhatsApp Business App: Yay or Nay? Benefits and drawbacks for companies
In 2018, WhatsApp launched its first business solution, the WhatsApp Business App. It finally allowed the commercial use of the popular messaging app. Naturally, this is the first option businesses that want to reach out to customers on WhatsApp, gravitate towards. But is it really the best one? In the following, we look at advantages and disadvantages of the WhatsApp Business App to help you decide if this is the best solution for your business.
Messaging is synonumous with WhatsApp in many countries. In 2022, Meta’s green messenger app counts two billion monthly active users, and is the most popular messaging app in the world. In countries like India or Brazil almost everybody who uses a smartphone also uses WhatsApp. It’s therefore only natural for companies to want to reach out to their customers on their favorite platform.
Until 2018, however, that was tricky, because WhatsApp did not allow a commercial use of the app. With growing demand and popularity of the app for customer-business-communication, WhatsApp launched a commercial version of its messenger app, the WhatsApp Business App.
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Businesses, therefore, have two options: the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business Platform (formerly WhatsApp Business API)
A) WhatsApp Business App: This version is most suitable for small businesses with up to five employees. It’s free of charge, but doesn’t offer scalable options for sales, chatbots, and doesn’t guarantee data privacy.
B) WhatsApp Business Platform: Accessable through the WhatsApp API cloud or through WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (official Meta partners) is easy to scale, if needed, allows you to send out newsletters and use chatbots, and data security is 100% guaranteed.
The following overview shows you the key differences between the three versions.
The WhatsApp Business App is a free solution that was specifically designed for small businesses. It works very similarly to the regular app, and makes communication between companies and businesses on WhatsApp very easy.
The WhatsApp Business App runs on smartphones and allows you to set up a company profile. You will be able to set up the following features:
- product catalog
- some (limited) templates with quick replies
- welcome messages
- away messages
WhatsApp Business App: Good start, but not a sustainable long-term solution
For some businesses, these options might be all they need. Small companies with no more than five employees or freelancers who are not too worried about scaling sales or data protection, are probably fine with this version. However, there are also some disadvantages and limitations.
⛔ Disadvantage ⛔
WhatsApp Business App is not GDPR compliant!
1. Real hassle for companies with more than five employees
Customer communication is usually not the responsibility of just one person in the company. With WhatsApp Business, however, only one employee can answer incoming inquiries, and that only works if that person has the smartphone.
This is not only problematic in times of remote working, but it also becomes a real hassle when set employee is out of office, on vacation, or sick. It then becomes a real chore to make sure that the “WhatsApp phone” is transferred to an available employee, and even that is tricky if a customer has a question that only somebody who does not have the phone can answer.
What most companies notice: once they start offering WhatsApp as a contact option, customers love it! While that’s great for your customer satisfaction, it will also become increasingly difficult to deal with all the incoming queries for one person on one phone. This is also the experience of I love DESIGN, a mid-sized marketing agency.
We started with the WhatsApp Business App, and every employee had the “WhatsApp phone” once every day. At a certain point, we had so many queries though that the system didn’t work anymore, and we were looking for a scalable solution.
Tim Bünger, Founder and Managing Director of I love DESIGN
2. You can’t push sales or send promotional messages with WhatsApp Businesss
In June of 2021, WhatsApp amplified the types of messages that companies could send to their clients. WhatsApp even brought back the popular newsletter! However, WhatsApp Business customers are still not allowed to send newsletters via the broadcast lists, that’s a perk that only WhatsApp Business Platform users have.
The same goes for back-in-stock updates, personalized recommendations, or promoting new products and events. In other words: if you just use the WhatsApp Business App, you can’t really do marketing or push sales.
The use cases for WhatsApp Business are therefore very limited, which is why, a lot of companies make the switch to the WhatsApp Business Platform (API) where they can take advantage of the full range of possibilities of the WhatsApp business communication.
💡Want to switch from the WhatsApp Business App to the WhatsApp Business API?
3. No integration with existing CRM systems
Even small and medium-sized companies want to offer their customers smooth and quick, target-oriented communication. This includes always knowing what the last point of conversation was, and what information was exchanged.
This is not only important for conversations on messaging apps, but also for e-mails or phone calls. Typically, almost any company nowadays has a CRM system to keep track of this. However, the WhatsApp Business App does not enable an interface here, so customer communication remains completely isolated on the smartphone, and you would have to transfer information from chats manually into your CRM system—fun (not)!
4. Limited automation options
The potential of WhatsApp chatbots and simple automation on WhatsApp is not even remotely possible with the WhatsApp Business App. Today, WhatsApp chatbots can be set up very easily and without programming knowledge and answer up to 80 percent of frequently asked questions in an automated way.
This is not only an advantage for large companies that want to scale their customer service, small businesses with more limited resources can save time, money, and allocate their employee’s time more productively.
💡 Further reading: How Chatbots Can Be Successful in Customer Service
5. Data protection not guaranteed
Like the private WhatsApp app, the WhatsApp Business App accesses and processes data in the phone book. In addition, chats run via US servers and meta data is exchanged, all of which are problematic according to data regulations, such as the GDPR in the European Union, the Data Protection Act in the UK, and several consumer privacy acts in the United States.
in case of breach, they are liable in accordance with Art. 5 GDPR.
Numerous companies start with the WhatsApp business app, but then quickly reach their limits when using it, due to concerns over data privacy.
In order to use WhatsApp in our team, and be GDPR-compliant, switching to the WhatsApp Business API was the logical step for us.
Tina Spengler, Head of Marketing, WEICON
Three companies that have switched from the WhatsApp Business App to the WhatsApp Business Platform!
There are undoubtedly some benefits to the WhatsApp Business App. However, if you want to stay in touch with your customers, send them interesting deals, updates about new products or offers, you will need to upgrade to the pay option of the WhatsApp Business Platform.
How to get access to the WhatsApp Business Platform
How does that work? There are basically four ways to get access to the WhatsApp Business Platform.
- Direct access through Meta (good luck!)
- Using the WhatsApp Business Platform cloud (IT skills required, data protection not guaranteed)
- An interface from a certified WhatsApp Business Solution provider like the Unified Messaging API from MessengerPeople (not very expensive, IT skills needed, 100% compliant with data privacy laws)
- Using a ready-to-go software solution also provided by a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider
WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSP) are official WhatsApp partners that are authorized to offer businesses access to the WhatsApp Business Platform. As a BSP, MessengerPeople has developed a software, the Messenger Communication Platform that you can set up very quickly, requires minimal effort or IT skills, and gives you access to all the Business Platform features.
You can even integrate your CRM system, and manage all the incoming messages conveniantly on a centralized interface on your desktop. Bonus: the software works with WhatsApp, but also with other messaging apps like the Facebook Messenger, Telegram or Apple Messages for Business!
The following companies have made the switch from the WhatsApp Business App to the Platform with MessengerPeople, and never looked back!
The online paint retailer “MissPompadour”
MissPompadour is an online retailer specialized in paints. Being an online business, they were already an avid user of social media platforms like Instagram to promote their business. WhatsApp was the next logical step to offer their clients a convenient way to communicate with them.
Soon, however, the customer requests were no longer manageable with a private WhatsApp number on the cell phone. And since the WhatsApp business app could not meet the requirements of a professional company either, MissPompadour swiftly and easily moved to MessengerPeople.
The result? They managed to turn their WhatsApp channel into a sales machine.
How MissPompadour is able to turn nine of of ten WhatsApp chats into a sale?
The affiliate platform for influencers stylink
Stylink is a platform that connects influencers in search for affiliate partners with online shops that are looking for influencers to promote their products. And even though most of their clients place their affiliate links on WhatsApp, they kept reaching out to stylink on WhatsApp.
As stylink gets a lot of requests and needs to be able to answer immediately, and send automated links, the company was looking for a scalable solution with a suitable interface to their CRM system, chatbot options, and WhatsApp notifications! They found MessengerPeople’s Messenger Communication Platform!
The result? stylink has been able to grow their business through WhatsApp, and has now expanded to new international markets.
3) The marketing agency I love DESIGN
Like many businesses, the marketing agency started talking to their customers on the WhatsApp Business App. Soon, the expected benefits didn’t pan out. The had to pass on their “WhatsApp phone” to a different employee every day, which became unmanageable.
That’s when they decided to switch to the WhatsApp Business Platform with MessengerPeople.
The result? They were able to make their customer service more efficient, and 70 percent of their customers contact them on WhatsApp.
The companies that try out the WhatsApp Business Platform don’t go back to the Business App. The advantages and possibilities are just so much greater. Plus, making the switch is really easy!
Switching to MessengerPeople is very quick and easy:
- The existing phone number can be migrated.
- Existing chats and customers are retained
- No high demands on technology and IT.
- Comprehensive onboarding and personal support by the MessengerPeople team.
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