WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp Business API: Which one is right for you and the best practices to get you started.
That’s how many active monthly users WhatsApp has across 180 countries. You probably depend on it for your day-to-day communication with friends and family, no doubt. But WhatsApp as a communication platform is also quickly becoming a new favorite among businesses for three key reasons.
- WhatsApp ads are soon arriving.
- WhatsApp has opened up to new integrations.
- WhatsApp bots are picking up steam.
Be it handling customer complaints, running marketing campaigns, or sending text reminders, understanding how to use WhatsApp Business has become imperative for businesses.
What is WhatsApp Business?
“WhatsApp Business is free to download app available on Android and iPhone and was built with the small business owner in mind. WhatsApp Business makes interacting with customers easy by providing tools to automate, sort, and quickly respond to messages.”
From exchanging messages to sharing images and videos, WhatsApp Business does everything your WhatsApp messenger does, and a little more. Though it is fairly new to the market, WhatsApp Business comes with additional tools and features that make it easy for businesses to communicate with customers. These include:
- Creating and setting up your business profile to list important information, such as an address, business description, email address, and website.
- Organizing your contacts or chats using labels, just like a CRM tool would.
- Using statistics that show you how many of your messages were successfully sent, delivered, and read.
- Using quick replies that let you save and reuse frequently sent messages so you can answer customer questions in no time.
- Setting an away message when you are unavailable to attend to customer queries or creating a greeting to introduce your business to customers.
WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp Business API — know what’s best for your business
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has created two distinct solutions for businesses wanting to use the app to communicate with their customers — WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API. The difference between the two solutions boils down to the size of the organization and the volume of WhatsApp messages you’re expecting to receive from customers.
If you’re a local business or a small and medium-sized business (SMB) dealing with less than 1,000 monthly customers contacting you, and all you want to do is have a few conversations with customers, label the conversations, and use canned responses, then WhatsApp Business is ideal for you.
However, if you are a large enterprise dealing with over 5,000 monthly customer interactions and need to attend to them from your existing helpdesk or live chat software using complex automation, then WhatsApp Business API is the way to go.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the capabilities of each of the solutions.
|WhatsApp Business||WhatsApp Business API|
|Suitable for local businesses and SMBs||Suitable for enterprise businesses|
|Set up canned responses and ‘away’ messages||Offers integration with other platforms|
|Label conversations||Access exclusively available through an official provider|
|Business profile/availability hours||Verified Business profile|
|Use via dedicated App||Send bulk notifications|
|Does not offer integrations||Use via your own CRM|
|Does not offer API access||Use automation|
|Allows only one person access||Allows multi-agent access|
Making the most of WhatsApp for Business
WhatsApp for business is a powerful app to have in your customer engagement toolkit. When you tightly integrate your live chat software with Whatsapp Business, you can deliver moments of wow to customers and scale your business with ease. What’s more, the app is free to use, saving you a few hundred bucks on new software!
Apart from improving the visibility of your brand, automating communication, and keeping your workflow and customer conversations organized, you can use WhatsApp for your business in a few different ways.
- You can improve customer service by providing real-time support and resolving customer queries through multimedia communication.
- Based on your customers’ preferences, you can send personalized recommendations that help strengthen customer relationships.
- You can collect feedback from customer groups more effectively via WhatsApp than via phone.
- You can proactively send important information such as order, service, or product updates to actively engage with customers.
How to apply for WhatsApp Business API
Currently, WhatsApp does not give access to its API to everyone. While they have opened API access for well-established medium and large businesses, it is still very complicated to get API access for small businesses.
WhatsApp also pays attention to the industry in which your business is operating. So if you are operating in industries like financial services, retail, education, real estate, telecom, it is easier to get API access because they are encouraged by WhatsApp.
With that said, there are two ways to apply for WhatsApp APIs.
1. Use a solution provider
Currently, the best and easiest way to get access to WhatsApp API is working with a WhatsApp business solution provider. Currently, there are 61 solution providers out of which Freshworks is one of the top WhatsApp solution providers.
In a nutshell, there are two major reasons to work with a solution provider:
- You have more chances to get access to their API.
- Your request will be considered within 1-4 weeks.
But before you apply for WhatsApp APIs, be informed that WhatsApp does not accept applications from the following industries.
- Government-run or political organizations;
- Real cash industries such as gaming and gambling;
- Adult content and entertainment;
- Arms producers and traders;
- Alcohol and tobacco producers and traders;
- Healthcare and supplements businesses.
So, if you are a medium scale business or an enterprise and want to know more on how to use and setup WhatsApp APIs with Freshchat, you should definitely check out “Accessing the WhatsApp Business API with Freshchat”.
2. Sign Up Directly
While the official website of WhatsApp Business gives you an option to apply directly, it encourages the applicant to apply for the APIs through a global business solution provider (as highlighted in the image).
But you can still choose to apply directly by filling the WhatsApp API form that appears once you click “Get started”. It is important to note that WhatsApp prefers to work with businesses through partners, so you may wait up to 6 months for your request to be considered if you apply directly.
So, if you are looking for an easy and quick way to get WhatsApp API then you must check out Freshchat WhatsApp API integration and if you are a small business and feel that WhatsApp Business app is right for your business then scroll below for download instructions and best practices.
How to download the WhatsApp Business app
As mentioned earlier, WhatsApp Business is free to use. You can download and install the app in five easy steps.
- Download the WhatsApp Business app from the Google Play Store if you are an Android phone user or App Store if you are an iPhone user.
- Verify your business phone number.
- Restore your account from a backup, if you want to.
- Set your business name.
- Build your profile: If you are an Android phone user, tap More options > Settings > your business name. If you are an iPhone user, tap Settings > your business name.
Note: Before you get started with downloading the app, here are two things you need to know.
- You can migrate your WhatsApp Messenger account along with its chat history and media, to a new WhatsApp Business account. You cannot undo this action if you decide to stop using WhatsApp Business app.
- You can use the WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Messenger app simultaneously as long as the accounts are associated with different phone numbers. You cannot use the same number for both accounts.
5 best practices to use WhatsApp for business effectively and drive success
While Whatsapp Business can be a great tool for your business, it is important to have certain best practices in place.
#1 Understand customer expectations
Simply adopting a new communication tool isn’t enough to satisfy your customers. Engage with only those customers who are interested in interacting with your business via WhatsApp. As a rule of thumb, use WhatsApp to message only those customers you are familiar with. Avoid using it as a platform to heavily promote your product or service. On the off chance that you decide to use WhatsApp Business as a marketing platform, ensure that you have a good marketing strategy in place.
#2 Never spam your customers
Use WhatsApp to proactively communicate with customers about important events, product updates, reminders, or resolving their queries. An opt-in from the customer does not mean permission to spam them with messages. There is a fine line between sending too many or too few messages, particularly via WhatsApp. If you are unsure, stick to the latter.
#3 Get creative; think business casual
As mentioned earlier, WhatsApp Business enables multimedia communication. This allows you the freedom to engage with your customers creatively. Remember, WhatsApp is a channel where customers prefer to interact informally. Make sure you infuse this in your communication while also keeping the tone professional.
Pro tip: Always maintain brand consistency.
#4 Don’t be a bot
While the primary use of WhatsApp Business is for transactional communication such as sending alerts, reminders, and product updates, it is also a channel where customers interact with your brand directly. And if your customers think they are talking to a robot, there’s a good chance that you are interacting like one. Be empathetic, offer quick responses — show the human side of your brand.
Pro tip: Don’t be shy to embrace emojis and GIFs.
#5 K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
At Freshchat, we are big fans of the K.I.S.S rule. When using WhatsApp for Business, make sure you keep your replies short and to the point. It reduces the chances of misunderstanding. It quickly provides the customer with the answers they are looking for. The same rule applies to marketing or promotional messages.
Pro tip: If the message doesn’t fit on a smartphone screen, you need to shorten it.
WhatsApp for business is here to stay. It’s a platform that is easy to use and integrates and provides the necessary statistics about the performance of your messages. However, it is important to remember that WhatsApp shouldn’t be the primary communication tool for your business. Think of it more like a wingman to your helpdesk, live chat, or marketing software — one that helps you advance your messages and goals.
Cover Illustration by Prasanna Bhupendran
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