WhatsApp was one of the first smartphone apps to introduce free, unlimited text messaging, and it’s become the most popular messaging app in the world. As of December 2017, it had 1.5 billion users in 180 countries.

If the introduction of the SMS changed the way we communicate, free text messaging completely revolutionized it. Instead of calling, people feel it’s more polite to send a quick WhatsApp message. That way, the recipient can read and respond to your message at their convenience.

This change in interpersonal communication has affected businesses too. If you can text your friend to ask a quick question instead of calling, why shouldn’t you be able to text your local pizza place to order a pizza, too?

In 2018, WhatsApp launched the WhatsApp Business app to help small businesses communicate with their customers more easily.

WhatsApp Business features

So how is WhatsApp Business different from regular WhatsApp?

The app was designed with the needs of small businesses in mind. Here are its unique features:

Business profile and hours

Your WhatsApp Business profile displays basic information about your business, including a description, profile photo, location, and opening hours.

Automated messaging

You can set an automated greeting message to respond when a customer first contacts you, and an away message to respond when someone contacts you outside of business hours or when you’re otherwise unavailable.

Responding quickly is crucial for customer satisfaction. According to a 2018 Hubspot report, 82% of customers expect an immediate response to a sales or marketing question, and 90% expect an immediate response to a customer service question. This sets a very high bar, especially if you’re a small business owner who is constantly fielding inquiries. Automated messages are a great way to address this issue: it makes your customer feel heard, even if it’s clear to them that it’s automated.

You can also use the automated greeting message to get more information from the customer, which will help you respond more completely to their inquiry and save some back-and-forth. For example, if you’re an event planner, you can ask the customer to state the date and time of the planned event, so that when you are ready to read and respond to their message, you will already know if your schedule is clear.

Quick replies

If you run a small business, you’re probably finding yourself answering certain questions over and over. How much does X cost? Do you deliver to Y? What size is Z? WhatsApp Business allows you to set quick replies to frequently asked questions. When someone asks one of those questions, all you need to do is type / and select the appropriate reply. This can save you lots of time and frustration!

Chat labels

On WhatsApp Business, you can use color-coded labels to help you stay organized and easily find important chats. For example, you can use the labels to mark different stages in the sales funnel: new customer, inquiries, pending payment, paid, order complete, loyal customers, and different types of customer service issues.

You can also use labels to organize customers into groups, which you can send specific messages to. For example, if you want to offer a special discount to return customers, you can send one message to everyone labeled “order complete.”

Short URL to start WhatsApp Chat

WhatsApp Business provides a URL you can link to on your website or social media profiles that automatically opens a WhatsApp chat with your business account. This makes it super easy for customers to ask questions and initiate the order process.

Is WhatsApp Business right for your business?

All the above features make WhatsApp Business a fantastic tool for your business if:

  • Your business is small
  • You only need one person responding to customer inquiries
  • Your customer base is comfortable using WhatsApp
  • Customer interactions are relatively simple (i.e., setting an appointment or placing an order) and can take place via text or voice notes)

Note that WhatsApp only allows one account per phone number, which means that you can’t have multiple people operating the WhatsApp Business account (and that’s why it’s not ideal for larger businesses).

It also means that if you want to maintain a regular WhatsApp account for personal use, you’ll need to get a different SIM card and phone (or use a phone that works with dual SIM cards) for your WhatsApp Business account.

Action Items: 

  1. Determine whether your business fits the ideal WhatsApp Business profile mentioned above.
  2. If you don’t have a separate phone or SIM card for your business, purchase one.
  3. Download WhatsApp Business and fill out your business information.
  4. Get set up! Program an automated greeting message, an away message, and quick replies to frequently asked questions.
  5. Add your WhatsApp Business URL to your social media accounts and website, and start chatting with customers!
  6. Use labels to organize your chats and group your customers.

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