More and more people are using instant messaging applications to communicate. Users are increasingly looking for more direct and easier ways to communicate, not only with their family and friends, but also with companies, from whom they expect immediate responses. These applications allow them to have several conversations at the same time or to interact while doing other things.
WhatsApp is the most widely used instant messaging app, with more than 2 billion active users worldwide in 2020 and growing. It is undoubtedly the instant messaging application of choice in Spain and Latin America, where it is used by anyone, regardless of their condition or age, as it is easy to use, thus making it possible to break the digital divide that makes it so difficult for companies to relate to some of their customers. If so many people prefer it, we cannot ignore its possibilities. That is why integrating this communication channel in your company can differentiate it from the rest, especially in your customer service.
Fonvirtual, the specialist in cloud technology for customer services, explains below everything you need to know to exploit the full potential of this communication channel.
Advantages of using the WhatsApp API in customer services
The main advantages of WhatsApp are free, instant and easy communication. Any message arrives instantly, we can share files of different nature or even share our location and we know if our interlocutor has received and read it even if it can be answered later. However, in the business environment, the WhatsApp API offers much more:
- It improves the customer experience:
- Eliminates waiting queues: Since our customer interacts through a messaging channel, he knows that his message is instantly received by the company and waits for a response while he is doing other things. This way the customer experience will be much better than when they have to be on the phone waiting to be attended to.
- It allows the customer to enjoy certain services 24×7: The artificial intelligence associated with WhatsApp allows responding to certain customer demands 24 hours a day and in any language or co-official language.
- It offers the customer the possibility of contacting while carrying out other tasks: The company becomes a trusted contact for the customer, as they can interact with it to make any query in a comfortable and relaxed way without having to make a phone call and spend a few minutes exclusively talking to an agent in the company’s call centre.
- It allows the exchange of files: Thanks to the WhatsApp API, the client and the company can exchange sound files, photos or videos immediately, easily and free of charge, which undoubtedly simplifies the processes, for example when sending a photo of a claim to the insurance company, sharing our location or receiving a copy of an invoice.
- It is completely free of charge for your customer, even if they are in another country, and works on any device.
- Reduces call centre operating costs (Opex):
- Facilitates the use of conversational agents: The interaction is done in writing which facilitates the implementation of artificial intelligence systems that interact with the customer automatically as well as the possibility that virtual conversational agents are assisted by human agents to optimise the customer experience.
- Each agent can handle multiple calls simultaneously, which optimises the number of agents needed to handle a given number of interactions.
- WhatsApp API integrates with call centre telephony: WhatsApp conversations can be distributed to agents based on their skills, availability and priority and managed by them through an integrated interface in their agent dashboard.
- Reduce communications costs: Now that many companies are forced to use costly 900 services to serve their customers, enabling the company’s 900 number to receive WhatsApp can represent a saving by not having a cost associated with the duration of the communication.
- It allows us to know our client or potential client
- We know the customer’s number: WhatsApp allows us to know the customer’s mobile phone number and therefore have it identified so that we can contact them or get to know them if they write back. In other instant messaging systems such as the popular “live chat” we do not have this valuable information.
- Integration with CRM: WhatsApp allows integration with the company’s information systems, which makes it possible to create a customer file or record the interaction data, offering a more efficient and personalised treatment, improving the customer experience.
Successful cases of WhatsApp API integration
Many companies have already taken the step of including this tool in their relationship with consumers. Here is a summary of how some of them are using this new tool in their customer service:
- KLM: Once a flight has been booked, the Dutch airline offers its customers the possibility to receive the necessary information via WhatsApp. Once the notifications have been activated, the company sends the customer information about the status of their flight, their boarding pass, check-in reminders and other important aspects of their trip via the app. In addition, they can ask any questions in any language, and its fully automated service is available 24×7, so customers can ask any questions easily and directly.
- World Health Organization (WHO): In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, the WHO is providing users with a WhatsApp account for the latest news, infection rates, travel advisories and “mythbusters”. Simply save their phone number in your contact list, open a conversation with them and type the word “hello” in any language. The reply will come with a menu of options in which we choose the one that best suits the information we wish to receive at that moment.
- Iberia: the airline allows customers to check in via the app. Simply enter the booking details on the number provided and they will send back the corresponding boarding pass. On the other hand, it allows you to check the status of the flight you are interested in, providing information such as the boarding gate, terminal, delays, etc…
Do you need WhatsApp for business or the WhatsApp for business API?
The professional solution that Facebook offers for businesses is the WhatsApp API that allows you to offer professional and secure customer service via WhatsApp. It also has a simple solution aimed at freelancers called WhatsApp Business, which is very similar to the application for private use that we all know, although they have added some useful features for small businesses.
Let’s see what the features of each solution are:
- WhatsApp Business: Its use is aimed at freelancers and small businesses. The application is associated with a single phone number and installed on a single device (either a mobile phone or a computer via WhatsApp Web).
Compared to the conventional app, it has a series of specific features for businesses, such as: the creation of a company profile with useful information for customers, the possibility of including a timetable, an autoresponder with personalised responses according to the message, contact and customer organisation labels, statistics and the creation of a catalogue that allows products to be displayed from the application. However, these functionalities are very limited, considering that, for example, it does not support the sending of voice notes or location, nor does it show the confirmation of delivery and reading of messages, so the user does not know if his message has been delivered and read. This integration requires a constant connection of the device on which we receive the messages, so if it is turned off, we will not be able to continue attending to them. In addition, the person attending to these messages must have the terminal physically available to do so. On the other hand, we cannot prevent WhatsApp calls from coming in through this mode of the application, which can generate an additional problem as these calls are not connected to the company’s telephone system. Finally, it is not a verified service, as it does not require Facebook’s approval to be used. Thus, the customer does not have the security of talking to a real company and fraud occurs.
- The WhatsApp API: this is a business-oriented service. It is based on a series of rules used to integrate WhatsApp into any type of company tool, such as CRM, call centre software, or artificial intelligence solutions.
This communication channel will always be available, since unlike the previous one, it is not associated with a single terminal, but works virtually through your company’s number. In this way, messages can be distributed among the different agents to provide a personalised and professional response.
The service allows automation through virtual assistants, so that the user can be attended to even after hours and in multiple languages and co-official languages. The system also goes further and can be integrated with internal databases and customer data. Thanks to this, the customer can find out, for example, a list of his purchases made, the balance of his account (if applicable), the renewal dates of his contracts…
It has a wider range of functionalities: in addition to those of WhatsApp Business, it allows the sending of voice notes, the reception of location cards and the display of message information (whether it has been sent, received and read).
Finally, it should be noted that it requires verification by WhatsApp (Facebook). Thus, the customer will have the security of being talking to the company.
Last but not least, having a whatsapp service verified by Facebook guarantees the continuity of the service because if Facebook detects that a company is using its solution for freelancers and micro-companies, Whatsapp Business, it could block the whatsapp service with the consequent damage to the customers of the company that was using it.
How to implement the WhatsApp API in your customer service
To set up a WhatsApp channel for your customer service, the first thing to do is to register your number with WhatsApp (Facebook) so that they can enable it and allow that number to receive instant messages.
The phone number has to be owned by your company and does not have to be a mobile number, in fact ideally the company should use its own customer service number as for communication purposes, the number is unique and customers will be able to contact your company by making a phone call or sending a WhatsApp message indistinctly. In addition, if the customer who is communicating with your company via WhatsApp decides that they want to make a phone call, they will call the same phone number that they see associated with the WhatsApp application and the call will be received normally in the call centre through the company’s customer service channel.
The company must have a Facebook business account and provide us with the business manager identification number that Facebook has given you when you registered your company with your details. You must also provide us with the name of the company that you want to appear on WhatsApp and the company logo. Fonvirtual sends all these data to WhatsApp to start the process.
Afterwards, WhatsApp will verify the data of the business registered in Facebook Business and once verified it will know who is the company that owns the service. Once verified, WhatsApp will also check the ownership of the phone line provided through a call in which it will provide a PIN code that the company must immediately communicate to fonvirtual so that we can send it in real time to WhatsApp and validate the ownership of the phone number.
To avoid aggressive advertising campaigns, WhatsApp does not allow the sending of any information to customers. Therefore, the company must prepare a set of templates that are sent to WhatsApp to be validated by them before they can be used. Normal templates can be used in the company’s operations, for example: “Dear customer XXX, we inform you that tomorrow we will debit your bank account with the receipt corresponding to invoice XXX in the amount of XXX. If you have any questions, please reply to this message and we will clarify them for you”. Whatsapp also requires users who want to receive communications from the company to register by sending the word “register” to the company’s whatsapp number.
When a customer sends an instant message to the company’s WhatsApp number, the channel is open with them for 24 hours to freely exchange any kind of information.
How to manage WhatsApp messages received by your company?
We already have the whatsapp account of the company operational and we can communicate to our customers that our phone number is enabled to receive WhatsApp and that we are willing to serve them through this channel but first we must decide how we want to manage the messages they send us.
We can connect the WhatsApp channel to the “receptionists” of the company’s switchboard so that they can manually distribute the incoming conversations between the different extensions or agents, depending on the type of message they send us. In this case, the receptionist can begin to manage the conversation and check the agent’s availability before transferring the conversation so that he or she can continue to attend to the customer.
We can also automate the delivery process so that incoming conversations are automatically routed to specific call centre agents as if it were an ACD. It would actually be an AWD (Automatic WhatsApp Distributor).
Of course, we can implement artificial intelligence-based automation to manage the customer service process.
It is common to implement mixed systems of attention between human and virtual agents in which some demands are satisfied by automatisms and in others part of the process is automatic and part is carried out by an agent.
We should bear in mind that this channel provides us with some functionalities that the telephone cannot provide, such as the possibility of knowing the customer’s location in real time, the exchange of copies of documents, audio, image or video files. Without forgetting the facility of telephone connection since the system could from WhatsApp put in telephone contact to the sender of the message with any person or department of the company that the client has requested changing in this case of the WhatsApp channel to the telephone channel.
Fonvirtual, a specialist in communications solutions for call centres and companies in all sectors, offers the WhatsApp API service, takes care of registering your corporate number, integrating the new communication channel with your switchboard or call centre software and implementing the artificial intelligence systems necessary to successfully manage your company’s communications in any language and around the clock.