WhatsApp is most commonly known as a messaging app that is ideal for communicating with people across the globe, regardless of their cell phone plan — all it requires is Wi-Fi.
Due to the app’s expansive reach and sheer convenience, it also lends itself perfectly to companies seeking a messaging platform to support customer service efforts. In this article, you’ll learn the ins and outs of WhatsApp and how it can help your company’s customer service team.
Note: WhatsApp isn’t currently available on Gorgias but we’re working hard to introduce an integration as soon as possible. Check out our public product roadmap to see the latest updates.
What is WhatsApp and what is WhatsApp Business?
First, it’s important to understand that there are two different versions of WhatsApp — both of which are owned by Facebook. The first version, the original WhatsApp, is for individual users. The second version, WhatsApp Business, was created a little later specifically for businesses. Both apps operate like SMS messages, so every user (or business) on the platform is assigned a phone number and interactions look like text message threads.
The main differences between the two versions of the mobile app revolve around personal use features for individual users versus more robust business-oriented features for company leaders. These differences include the design of the two versions, their messaging features and capabilities, verification options, contact organization, and profile connectivity.
Both versions of WhatsApp are free and secure. Some of the specific features included with WhatsApp Business that are not included in WhatsApp personal messenger include:
- Contact labeling: You can create up to 20 custom color-coded categories for your business’s contacts.
- Profile information: WhatsApp Business allows you to include contact information like a business name, logo, business category, website, product catalog, location, and even working hours.
- Automated messages: WhatsApp Business allows for automated messages like real-time replies, away messages, and automatic greetings.
- Message statistics and analysis: WhatsApp Business provides predefined metrics for you to track, whereas WhatsApp for personal use only has limited statistics.
WhatsApp Business’ top features for customer support teams
Now, let’s dive deeper into some more features specific to WhatsApp Business and how they can benefit your team:
WhatsApp Business API: Connect your favorite software
If you want to take your support efforts one step further on WhatsApp Business, you have the option of using the WhatsApp Business API. This allows your company to integrate WhatsApp into other CRM tools or support software that your team currently uses.
This integration can unlock additional features within the WhatsApp Business app like chatbots and media-rich messages. You will also have the option to tie your data into other customer support software like Gorgias in order to monitor messages and tickets from a central hub. The centralization that the WhatsApp Business API offers can streamline your business’s entire customer service experience.
Automation and chatbots: Save time and respond faster
As mentioned, automation and chatbots are two features included in WhatsApp Business. Various types of automation and chatbots have grown in popularity in recent years, and customers seem to enjoy these tools as part of their customer experience. In fact, the vast majority (80%) of consumers say they have positive experiences with chatbots, according to a recent study by Uberall. The study also finds that just 4% of respondents rate their chatbot experiences as “very negative.”
There are several perks to using chatbots: Consumers are comfortable dealing with them, and they can also save your customer success team a ton of time by responding to simple inquiries. If you can identify the right chatbot business solution for your company, you can implement the bot on your WhatsApp Business to address things like FAQs.
Beyond chatbots, other automation features you could implement with WhatsApp Business and API include proactive notifications, IVR call deflection, sales process automation, and automated messages. You can learn more about customer service automation here.
Multimedia messaging: Go beyond text-based interactions
Another excellent feature of WhatsApp Business is its ability to send multimedia messages. This allows you and your team to create more engaging content while still providing a stand-out customer experience. Your customer success team will be able to send PDF content, video, audio, and more. A few specific ways multimedia messaging could be helpful to your team include:
- Following up with a customer by sharing a quick how-to video
- Answering a question about features with an ebook or use case scenario
- Providing additional information about your company through a partner podcast episode
Company-initiated messaging: Provide proactive support at scale
There are some customer service chat communication tools that only allow you to respond to customers who reach out to you first — WhatsApp Business is not one of those tools. With WhatsApp Business, you and your team have the ability to send outbound messages to customers, which allows for a wide range of strategic and proactive support interactions.
For example, if there is an issue on your website that is affecting all customers, you can send out a message to let them know what’s going on. This option could potentially save your customer success associates hours of work responding to customers one at a time about the same issue.
Looking for more ways to chat with your customers? Read our guide on customer service messaging to learn how you can take advantage of channels like WhatsApp, live chat, Facebook Messenger, SMS, and more.
Why use WhatsApp for customer support? 6 key reasons
Now that you know all about some of the best WhatsApp Business features, let’s get into more detail about why WhatsApp can be a great tool specifically for your customer support team.
1) WhatsApp is one of the top messaging apps in the world
Worldwide, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps. It reports over 2 billion users per month, and 500 million users every single day, according to Facebook. The app’s wide reach is mainly due to the fact that it’s so handy for international companies. A few specific reasons include:
- Phone numbers look different in different parts of the world, so because WhatsApp assigns a unique WhatsApp number to each user, you can chat or talk to anyone in the world regardless of location.
- WhatsApp is the most professional, well-known app available to communicate with customers around the world. It’s extremely popular among international businesspeople for this reason.
- Every version of the app is free, which makes it more attractive and accessible to small businesses and large businesses alike.
2) From automation to integrations, its customer support offerings keep growing
Since Facebook bought WhatsApp back in 2014, the company has been consistently rolling out new features — many of which allow integrations with other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Many of the features that have rolled out in the years since its conception have been particularly valuable to customer service reps. Some WhatsApp features rolling out in 2022, according to Business Insider, include:
- Message reactions: The app is creating a feature that will allow you to react with emojis. This could be great for brands that align with a more laid-back style and perhaps cater to younger generations.
- Communities: WhatsApp will have the ability to condense up to 10 groups into a single “community.” Within communities, there will be an announcement section where your admins can send messages to every group in a community. This feature could be ideal for building more niche communities within your customer base.
- Businesses nearby: WhatsApp wants to make it easier for users to find businesses on the app. With this search tool feature, users will be able to filter to find places like restaurants, grocery stores, apparel and clothing stores, and more. This feature has the potential to act as a free advertising tool for your company.
- Android to iOS transfer: WhatsApp now allows you to transfer chat histories from iPhone to Android devices. There currently isn’t a transfer option from Android to iPhone, but WhatsApp reports that they’re working on it. This minor feature may not have direct implications for your business, but it’s just one of many things that makes WhatsApp attractive to more consumers, solidifying its value to your customer service team.
3) It offers a secure messaging solution
WhatsApp was built using end-to-end encryption, which protects all communication done on its platform. Even more, the encryption keys make it impossible to decrypt messages, and helps prevent third parties from accessing calls or messages. WhatsApp themselves can’t even access the data.
Like many other social communication tools, WhatsApp also offers account verification badges. This allows your customers to see that you are who you say you are, and having a verified badge on your WhatsApp Business profile will help assure customers that they aren’t being scammed.
4) It allows companies to brand their messaging ecosystems
WhatsApp allows companies to customize their profiles by adding a logo, website, company name, and more. Having consistent branding across all of your customer touch points is important, and can have an impact on customer experience. Make sure the branding on your WhatsApp profile aligns with what’s on your website. For example, you don’t want to use an old logo on your WhatsApp profile if you have a newly-designed logo that appears on your website.
Consistency is a key part of building a trusting relationship with your customers, so be sure that your information is accurate and consistent with your other online channels.
5) Customer service teams can group their customers
Another point we mentioned earlier is the grouping of customers within WhatsApp. This could have immense benefit to your customer service team. The ability to group or segment your customers can help create a more personalized messaging experience. You could think about segmenting customers by demographics like location, age, frequency of purchase, or how long they’ve been a customer.
Grouping customers in WhatsApp can also aid in sending out and getting quick results for surveys and feedback, such as when surveying for your net promoter score (NPS). Read more about how Gorgias helped one company increase their NPS from 19 to 41.
6) WhatsApp integrates with Gorgias for better ecommerce customer support offerings
WhatsApp has multiple applications that can help your customer service team. From providing quick, proactive communication to solidifying your branding, WhatsApp Business can be a powerful part of your customer service strategy.
Want to learn how to drive customers to faster, conversational channels like WhatsApp and SMS? Learn how Gorgias customer Berkey Filters drove customer adoption to SMS to reduce response times and improve the customer experience.
To get the most out of WhatsApp Business, consider pairing it with a customer service platform like Gorgias. Built for ecommerce, Gorgias centralizes your team’s support channels like live chat and SMS into a single easy-to-use dashboard. Save time with seamless, efficient support to build excellent customer experiences. Learn more about Gorgias, or give it a try for free today.