How to use a WhatsApp chatbot: everything you need to know

You probably have seen some companies use chatbots on the Messenger from Meta, but what about WhatsApp chatbots? They are the next big trend in messenger communication, and can really help your business. In the following guide, we explain what chatbots are, what WhatsApp bots can do for you, how other companies use them — and how easy it is to build your own!

Did you know that on WhatsApp Business, 175 million people message a business account every day? Even if your company had to handle only a tiny fraction of 0.0001% of these messages, you would still end up with 175 messages per day. That’s a lot of inquiries, questions, requests, and complaints to handle if you want to give each customer the attention they deserve and solve their issues fast. And that’s exactly where a WhatsApp chatbot comes in!

The automated tool can help your customer service, but also boost your business in many other ways. In the following, we explain what WhatsApp chatbots are, what they can do for your company, how you can set up one for your business (easily!), and how other organizations are already using them successfully.


WhatsApp chatbots, WhatsApp bot, messaging bot, or just a bot: What’s the difference?!

You might have come across all these terms before and wondered, “what do they mean, and what’s the difference?” Let’s start with the basics! Chatbot is the general term, bot is just short for chatbot. A messenger bot is a specialized chatbot for messenger services like Telegram or iMessage, and a WhatsApp chatbot is a bot that’s specifically designed for Meta’s popular green messenger.

So, all terms describe chatbots or specialized version of chatbots, but then: what’s a chatbot?

Wikipedia defines a chatbot as follows:

“A chatterbot, chatbot or short bot is a text-based dialog system that allows chatting with a technical system. It has one area each for text input and output, through which it is possible to communicate in natural language with the system behind it.”

A chatbot is therefore a computer program that enables interaction between humans and technology. Originally, chatbots were only designed for text-based communication, as you can see from the definition above. Nowadays, with more advanced technology, there are also voice bots, like Alexa or Siri. Accordingly, people distinguish between chatbots (for text) and voice bots (for spoken language), but often the original word “chatbot” is still used as an umbrella term for both.

In combination with messaging apps like WhatsApp, chatbots can develop their full conversational potential.


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Why should businesses use WhatsApp chatbots?

When companies started using text-based chatbots, most people first encountered them on Facebook, in the Messenger from Meta. In the meantime, however, the chatty bots have expanded to other communication platforms and messenger apps. With WhatsApp being one of the most-used messengers in the world, many companies started rolling out WhatsApp chatbots to help them improve their customer communication.

Why specifically on WhatsApp? Because it’s one of the hottest messenger apps in the world right now! Worldwide, people send out more than 100 billion messages daily on the messenger. In Brazil, WhatsApp is installed on 99% of smartphones, India has 487.5 million WhatsApp users, and even in the more SMS-focused US market, the usage of WhatsApp is growing.

If businesses want to reach their customers, they have to meet them on their favorite communication channel. And many times that is WhatsApp! Companies use the messenger app for the following reasons:

  • User numbers: WhatsApp has more than two billion users worldwide, so even if you don’t use WhatsApp, your customers probably do!
  • Target group: In addition to young people, over two-thirds of people over 65 also use a messenger app.
  • Efficiency: Your company can answer customer inquiries on average 60% faster than by phone or e-mail using WhatsApp.
  • Popularity: Companies rely on channels such as phone, e-mail, and SMS for customer communications. But 61% of customers today prefer to chat.
  • Acceptance: Nearly 50% of customers want to communicate with companies via WhatsApp. More than 65% of online shoppers want service and advice through WhatsApp!
  • Costs: With customer communication via WhatsApp, you won’t need to spend money on expensive call centers and old CRM systems!

Chatbots are similar to WhatsApp. If you don’t use the technology wisely, you won’t be successful. However, when chatbots are well made and bring customers to a resolution they are extremely well-received by customers.

Tim Horst, Online Marketing Expert at Trinity Concepts

What are the advantages of a WhatsApp chatbot?

Using WhatsApp in the customer communication already offers many advantages. Adding chatbots to that will increase the potential of messaging apps for your business exponentially.

1. They increase efficiency

Think about all the recurring questions that your service team gets every single day. When will my package arrive? How can I check the status of my delivery? What are the payment options? These questions keep your agents busy, but they also keep answering the same questions. That’s tedious and takes away time from your agents that they could use much better to deal with more complex issues. That’s the opposite of efficient!

Especially, if these questions can be answered much faster by a bot. Think of chatbots like a dam that can shield your customer care team from repeat questions, and free up their time. If you use a professional software like the Messenger Communication Platform by MessengerPeople by Sinch, you can also help agents automize their process by pre-programing answers with a chatbot builder.

With the Messenger Communication Platform, there’s an option to pre-design answering blocks for recurring questions. When customers ask one of these questions, our agents only have to pick the right answer block, and don’t have to type everything from scratch. That saves a lot of time, and makes the work more enjoyable for the team.

Leonie Steiner, Customer Care Lead at AlphaPet Ventures

2. They reduce the work load for your service team

The option of automating answers reduces the workload for your customer service team, offers faster help for your customers, and leaves more time to deal with demanding issues.

In fact, a WhatsApp chatbot can help your company to be up to 80% more efficient! So you save time, money, and both, your customers and your employees are happier.

And don’t underestimate how much customers appreciate the speed of chatbots. According to a recent survey by the customer service platform Tidio, 53% o respondents said that waiting too long for a reply is the most frustrating part in their interaction with a business. If they had to choose between waiting 15 minutes longer to talk to a human agent or have a chatbot help them immediately, 62% said they would prefer to talk to a bot. 

3. You’ll be easier to reach

The easier it is for customers to get in touch with your business, the more it’ll help your revenue! Because every time you don’t answer a customer query, chances are that the person will just move on to your competitor. To be blunt, if you snooze, you loose (a lot of money)!

Bots can be a great tool to ensure that your WhatsApp customer service will be available around the clock. After all, bots don’t need to sleep, they never get sick, and they never want time off. That makes WhatsApp chatbots even for small and medium-sized businesses very attractive. Even very basic bots can ensure that customers can always reach you.

Albert Stieglhofer Quote EN chatbots

4. Chatbots offer more opportunities for personalization

Did you know that companies that address their customers personally have a better image and sell more? In a survey by the consulting agency McKinsey, 76% of respondents said that they were more likely to buy from a brand, if they offered personalized service. WhatsApp chatbots can do that!

You can integrate them into your CRM system, and turn them into real personalization experts. In just a few seconds, they’ll be able to retrieve customer data, and address customers in a more direct and personal way. An additional advantage: chatbots can turn over that information to your agents very quickly, so when they start talking to your customers, they can make their conversations more personal as well.

The sports brand Women’s Best, for example, uses a WhatsApp bot to first collect user data, such as language or e-mail address. This information is then immediately available to agents who can then help faster, and be on a more personal level with customers right away.

womens-best-chatbot whatsapp english

5. They improve your sales funnel

What did the customer buy last time? Is it the customer’s birthday today, and would it be a good idea to send them a special birthday deal? Do you want to send repeat customers special Diwali offers? Gathering this kind of information in a timely manner can take your service team a lot of time. A WhatsApp chatbot can do that in seconds.

With only a few clicks, you can use information from your CRM, and easily set up an automated chatbot campaign.

Apple Messages for Business, Womens best, locked screen

These personalized campaigns will definitely improve your sales funnel!

As you can see, WhatsApp bots offer a lot of advantages for your customers and your team. So, how can you integrate them for your business?


How to integrate a WhatsApp chatbot for your business

When using WhatsApp in your customer communication, you either have to use the WhatsApp Business App or the WhatsApp Business Platform (formerly: WhatsApp Business API). The regular WhatsApp app is not allowed for commercial use!

When using the Business App, however, you can’t integrate chatbots. That’s only possible with the WhatsApp Business Platform.

You can either use a developer access, which requires IT knowledge and resources. Or, you can access the Business Platform through a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP). BSPs, such as MessengerPeople by Sinch, are official WhatsApp partners that can grant you access to the WhatsApp Business Platform, and help you set up a WhatsApp chatbot in just a few steps.

Actually, MessengerPeople by Sinch has created a software that is ready to use, no coding skills required. It’ll allow you to handle all your messaging conversations, including WhatsApp, on one platform, and it’ll also make it very easy to integrate WhatsApp chatbots.


How much does a WhatsApp bot cost?

If you are a MessengerPeople client, the WhatsApp chatbot is for free, as it’s already included in the software solution.

This means: as a regular customer, you have no additional cost for using a WhatsApp chatbot!


Creating a WhatsApp Bot: What should you consider?

Most companies don’t need very advanced chatbot capabilities. Simple messenger app bots typically already do the trick, and are ale to answer most FAQs. However, your chatbot also has to be ready to re-direct customers to a human agent when questions get too complex.

❗️ Note: As part of a WhatsApp Business Platform update from 2020, businesses now have to guarantee a handover from a bot to a human agent.

They can do so by:

  • direct handover in the chat
  • posting a phone number or e-mail
  • web support or a form

Tool-Tip: Use the MessengerPeople Chatbot Builder to design an easy transfer from bot to human agent.

Aside from assuring a handover, also keep in mind the following aspects when creating a WhatsApp chatbot.

Automate dialogs

The dialog is at the core of every chatbot. That’s where you establish the connection between a customer question (“Who are you?”) and an answer (“I’m the smart bot”).

Predefined topics

Topics give context to a bot. Depending on the topic, the bot can select the most fitting flow, and give the right answer to the customer.

WhatsApp chatbot buttons

Until recently, users could only use numbers, letters, or hashtags to guide them through a dialog with the bot. With the new WhatsApp Business Platform buttons, however, the dialog between customer and bot has become smoother and more efficient.

WhatsApp Business Buttons Update

Variables

Variables help the WhatsApp chatbot to ask a user previously defined information. This data can then be used for personalization or targeting. For example, a bot can ask a user for their name, age, location, and so on.

Data model integration

Data model integrations are charts with additional information, such as the product catalog, opening hours, quiz questions, and more. The bot can use them to make the conversation more engaging.

THIP, The Indian Health Project, chatbot, WhatsApp, fact checking

Analysis

It’s important to regularly analyze the results and development of your bots. Use these insights to optimize your WhatsApp chatbot. For instance, what are the questions that your bot can typically not answer? What are the most answered questions? Analyze, draw conclusions, and improve your bot.


How to develop a concept for your first WhatsApp chatbot

A WhatsApp chatbot has one main purpose: help you reach your business goals! That’s why the first step in developing a WhatsApp bot is to define these goals.

  • Make sure that the chatbot can really help you to reach your goals.
  • WHO should speak WHERE and HOW about WHAT: make a mini checklist to create a purposeful chatbot.
  • You don’t always need artificial intelligence (AI) for a chatbot. Mainly, you need a smart, human idea.

Many tasks that companies want to automate can be completed by simple bots. There is no reason to make a bot complicated than it needs to be. However, if your company is looking to launch a bot in a more complex environment, there are also easy ways to set up AI-based chatbots on WhatsApp.

You should be able to answer these six questions when planning a chatbot for WhatsApp

Mapping your company goals is only the first step towards a successful WhatsApp bot. The second step is to think about what type of bot would benefit your customers the most. After all, they are the ones who will interact with your bot. That’s why you have to ensure that the human-bot interaction is a smooth as possible. Ask yourself in advance:

  1. What’s the goal of the WhatsApp chatbot?
  2. How should the bot talk?
  3. What should the chatbot talk about?
  4. Do I want a guided or a free-flow dialog?
  5. How can I set up the chatbot dialog?
  6. How should I handle questions that the bot can’t answer?

Once you can answer these questions, you are ready to get started with your own WhatsApp chatbot.

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Real-world examples of WhatsApp chatbots

Now, that we’ve seen in theory why WhatsApp chatbots can be so helpful, and how you can create one, let’s look at how other companies use WhatsApp bots in practice.

“Genie”: Orion Mall’s chatbot that increases revenue

Orion Mall is a shopping center in Bangalore, India. Aside from retailers, visitors can also find many other entertainment options at the mall, such as restaurants, movie theaters, and events. When the Orion team looked at introducing a chatbot, they wanted to tackle several goals: inform users about ongoing events, provide faster answers to FAQs, and get more foot traffic to the mall.

With the WhatsApp chatbot “Genie”, they were able to achieve all of these goals. The bot can answer common questions around mall activities by using a simple, but smooth dialog.

 

In addition, by meeting their customers on their favorite social media platform, Orion Mall has also been able to improve their marketing activities with the help of Genie by informing users about upcoming events. As a result, the mall has seen more visitors, and increased their revenue.

BMW: “Follow Now” bot for real-time repair status

The car dealer BMW offers a special workshop service at their service station in Munich. With the WhatsApp chatbot “Follow Now”, customers can use WhatsApp to easily check on the status of their car at any time and get real-time updates.

 

This reduces the workload for the customer service team, and frees up time to deal with more complex customer inquiries. When the car is ready, the WhatsApp bot makes it easy to schedule a pick-up appointment, too.


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Digify Africa: improving education with a bot

Digify Africa is a youth-led digital education organization in Africa that aims to educate young people about digitalization and social media. In Africa, however, access to the internet is not as ample, and mostly restricted to cell phones. In order to reach more users, Digify Africa decided to introduce a WhatsApp chatbot.

Gavin Weale Digify Africa, chatbots, quote

With the help of WhatsApp and chatbots, Digify Africa managed to reach a 50% course completion rate on WhatsApp, and achieve a 3.6 times growth in learners.


The best software solution for WhatsApp chatbots

It’s amazing what you can do with a WhatsApp chatbot! The good news is: you can easily implement all these services from the above examples with our software solution. It can be used immediately, and it’s browser-based. In addition, your company can assure 100% data protection.

With targeted bot automation, our easy and smart chatbot builder helps you and your company make customer communication more efficient.


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