Facebook-owned messaging giant Whatsapp has launched a new app targeted for businesses, known as ‘WhatsApp Business’. It is currently launched only in select markets including Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, UK and US. The app will soon be rolled out worldwide. It has various additions over the standard chat app such as business profiles and new messaging tools. These new features are aimed to allow businesses to communicate with their customers in an easier way.
Facebook already allows businesses to create a page on its own platform which helps them communicate better with their customers. Even Instagram lets you create a business profile and access additional tools. With WhatsApp, the social-media giant is looking forward to roll out the same functionalities to its chat service as well.
WhatsApp is currently the most widely used messaging platform in the world with around 1.3 billion users on the platform. With such a huge audience, businesses would want to create an online presence where their customers can easily get in touch with them. WhatsApp had previously announced its pilot program for the business app in September 2017. Read more about it here.
Companies will be able to create a business profile on WhatsApp by submitting information such as their business description, email ID, address, website and of course their phone number. Customers will then see these accounts as ‘Business accounts‘. WhatsApp will also verify these accounts by matching their phone number with the registered business contact number. After this verification, those businesses will be listed as ‘Confirmed accounts’ and you’ll see a green checkmark against their names on WhatsApp.
After creating a ‘Business account’, companies can access a host of additional features meant for them. A feature known as ‘Quick replies’ lets you instantly reply with answers for the most frequently asked questions. ‘Greeting messages’ can also be sent to customers which introduce the business to them during the initial conversation. With ‘Away messages’, businesses can automatically send preset messages while they are offline, similar to what already exists in Facebook Messenger.
WhatsApp will also let businesses view statistics where they would know how many messages are delivered, read, etc. They will also be able to send and receive messages through WhatsApp’s web platform.
WhatsApp has made it pretty clear from early on that businesses will only be able to send messages to customers who agree to receive them. Users will also have the control to block and report businesses if they find anything inappropriate.
The Business App seems like the foundation stone to the bigger enterprise solution that WhatsApp plans to create. It will be meant for global businesses with thousands of customers such as airlines, hotels and e-commerce platforms among others. The enterprise version will be aimed at generating revenue, which the company isn’t doing currently. For now, the WhatsApp Business App is available for free.
WhatsApp had earlier stated that it is important to serve businesses as they heavily rely on the platform to communicate with their customers. The company also claims that more than 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil use WhatsApp to interact with their customers.
Currently, the WhatsApp Business app is only available for Android but the company has confirmed that it will be rolled out for other platforms soon. It isn’t available in India as of now but we can expect it to arrive in the next few weeks.