WhatsApp have recently released their business API, which will allow businesses to send their customers WhatsApp messages using integrations with CRM systems, eCommerce websites and other messaging platforms.
How can businesses use the WhatsApp API?
With the WhatsApp API, businesses have the ability to set up profiles that showcase their address, description, contact details and weblinks.
In addition to features like images, video and audio support, the WhatsApp API also supports two-way chat interactions. That means customers can have conversations with customer service agents within WhatsApp, instead of going through the live-chat service on the business website, waiting for an email response, or waiting on hold to be connected via a call.
There are a handful of major brands like Booking.com, Uber and Singapore Airlines that are testing this platform to deliver boarding passes, broadcast information on products and services, and send delivery updates.
What opportunities do the WhatsApp API unlock for businesses?
At this stage, the WhatsApp business API provides another channel for businesses to communicate with their customers. It gives businesses the choice to use WhatsApp in addition to, or instead of, their usual channels like email and SMS.
How can I start connecting with my customers via WhatsApp?
Businesses will need to ask for permission from their customers before contacting them via WhatsApp. An example of doing this could be sending them a link via SMS or email and ask them to opt in.
After the initial contact, can businesses proactively message their customers on WhatsApp?
WhatsApp, like the Facebook Messenger API before, have limited a brand’s ability to send adhoc messages. The general rule is that a brand can only message the customers within 24 hours of the last contact from them. But pre-defined templates, such as alerts and notifications, that are screened and approved by WhatsApp, are excepted from the 24 hour rule. With this kind of transactional message, the business will most likely be able to continue sending them via the WhatsApp channel, thus providing their customers a broader choice of communication channels.
The API is being billed as an ‘enterprise communications’ solution – does it add any value to SMEs?
It surely does! In fact, it may even be quicker and easier for small to medium businesses to adapt their processes and provide rich content messaging to their customers. However, for companies who have limited development resource, it might be easier to use the WhatsApp for Business app than the API – but this does not remove the great potential of the platform to help SMEs.
How can Esendex support businesses who are interested in rich messaging, particularly WhatsApp?
We’ve launched Message Studio, our next generation business messaging platform, that enables our customers to use the latest communication channels. Message Studio allows customers to create rich content messages with SMS, RCS and WhatsApp in the near future. Businesses will create their messages in Studio, and our system will automatically deliver the messages to the recipients via the best available channels.
If you’d like to explore the possibilities within WhatsApp…
Please get in touch with your account manager or call us at 1300 764 946, we’d be happy to work with any business who’d like to test out the WhatsApp Business API.
One thing to note is that it does require some investment to get the WhatsApp API up and running, and to ensure that it’s robust and scalable. And that’s where our area of expertise is, to help with all the backend integration so you have a successful product ready to be rolled out.