Whatsapp last month released a new app for business users. Aimed initially at small businesses, the app offers features such as verified business profiles, automated greeting/away messages, and performance stats.
The messaging platform has a huge user base, reported to be 1.5 billion people globally. Owners Facebook have been content to let Whatsapp grow without commercial pressures over the last few years, but are now keen to start cranking up the monetisation efforts. While the new Whatsapp Business app is free, a paid enterprise solution for large brands is expected to follow shortly.
Whatsapp sees an opportunity to position itself as THE platform for B2C interaction, offering an alternative space for many of the customer service functions that businesses currently rely on email for. Several brands have already started using it in this way – see KLM’s recent move to allow customers to receive flight documentation and updates via Whatsapp:
So what does Whatsapp’s new app mean for businesses? Yet another platform where disgruntled customers can rant about you losing their luggage or serving them a tepid macchiato? Probably, yes. But it’s also potentially an opportunity for businesses to provide a new, stronger customer service experience. Personal messaging feels more instant than email, and more convenient than phone calls. Used correctly, a platform like Whatsapp could enable customer service that feels more direct and accountable in the eyes of consumers.
Our recent research on inertia in the personal finance sector found that one of the biggest reasons behind the reluctance of consumers to abandon the high street banks in favour of new, online-only banks was a fear that customer service would be poorer – the human interaction of speaking to branch staff would be lost.
Time will tell if Whatsapp Business can be the solution to delivering online customer service that retains that all-important personal and accountable human element.
Get in touch – we’d love to discuss your brand’s customer service challenges and the possibilities of digital to help you overcome them.