UPDATE april 2019: WhatsApp Business is rolling out the WhatsApp Business API, with which companies worldwide can gain access to this channel and communicate with 1.5 billion people in 180 countries. Find out more about how to get started with WhatsApp Business here>
Installing WhatsApp Business
To avoid getting your hopes up too much, we must mention that WhatsApp Business is not yet available for iOS. We do not yet know when it will be. Also, an API to integrate WhatsApp in your own systems is still lacking. So for now, only Android users can download WhatsApp Business for free in the Play Store.
When you have the app installed, you can link it to a mobile number. It is advised to use one that’s not already used for your personal WhatsApp application. Unless you don’t mind receiving both private and business messages in one app. After you have given the necessary permissions and verified your phone number, you can set a company name and logo. Please make sure you enter the company name correctly, as you cannot change this afterwards. And then you are actually ready to get started. But, what exactly can you do with it?
Features of free WhatsApp Business
This version of WhatsApp for Business is mainly aimed at SMEs. What you may notice, is that not all functionalities that KLM tested in the pilot version are available in this first official version. The business WhatsApp looks very similar to the WhatsApp application you already know from your personal account. This includes an overview of conversations, your status and calls.
However, in WhatsApp Business you have more options to share company information. Consider, for example, your address with location on a map, business category, opening hours, e-mail address and website(s). In addition to the private WhatsApp, you can also view statistics (such as sent, delivered, read and received messages). The expectation is that this overview will be expanded in a next update.
A valuable addition to WhatsApp Business is the possibility to set up “out of office” messages. Also, you can add standardised but personalised auto replies as a first greeting for new chats. And you do not have to worry about having to type the same answers to frequently asked questions over and over again. You can set up 'quick answers' that you can add to a conversation by entering a keyword.
You can also label your conversations, for example to indicate whether the chat is regarding a complaint, or whether this customer still has unpaid invoices. You can also archive conversations, thus maintaining a clear overview. You can simply scroll through this archive and restore conversations to active.
Wait for WhatsApp as a complete communication channel
So it seems that many companies can get started with WhatsApp Business. Nevertheless, the possibilities to use WhatsApp in business are still limited. For example, you cannot work with multiple users on one WhatsApp channel yet. Also, due to the lack of a WhatsApp Business API, it is not yet possible to offer proactive, personal service on a large scale.
As soon as the WhatsApp Business API is made available, WhatsApp will be included as an official communication channel on our platform, allowing you to use it for (multi-channel) campaigns with all the features of our Messaging solutions and customer service through our Customer Contact platform. This allows you to easily add WhatsApp to your customer service channels, and to use our features such as chatbots.