Customer service chats on social platforms have become key pieces for businesses across industries. Over the years, more and more companies have been using WhatsApp to communicate with their customers. While the messaging giant has always had a strict focus on messaging only without any kind monetization model, many of its competitors, such as Facebook Messenger, have started mixing business within their chat apps. WhatsApp, becoming a service with more than 1.3 billion monthly users globally, quickly came to the conclusion that it couldn’t be the exception.
WhatsApp has officially announced that it has been testing some new features designed specifically for business-to-customer messaging. These features are structured to address the challenges of the lack of efficient online communication with customers and lack of business profiles, as well as to be able to manage customers in one single place. So far, WhatsApp has announced that it will be launching a free business app for small companies and a separate enterprise solution for large scale organizations. Within this app, customers would be able to connect directly with businesses faster and in a personal way, and businesses would be charged from different features included in the app. Businesses would also have official verified accounts, identified by a green checkmark next to the user’s name, in order to separate themselves from fake accounts.
Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema told the Wall Street Journal that WhatsApp will charge a fee for the enterprise solution since it would allow customers to receive notifications from the various businesses they are in contact with. He said, “so for example, if the airline you are flying in has a presence on WhatsApp, flight alerts, ticket bookings, etc could all be present on WhatsApp itself.” Idema added, “another example would be e-commerce websites, which might soon start sending order confirmation, delivery alerts, etc to WhatsApp, instead of as a text message.”
The costs or general figures of the new business app are yet unclear, but WhatsApp says it wants to develop an advanced platform for businesses to interact more privately and directly with customers.
For the moment, WhatsApp is still testing its tools as part of a closed pilot program. In the meantime, it will continue testing several features of the new app amongst different companies from varying industries and sizes in order to improve the scope and build itself to become an essential factor of customer service initiatives. The features are being tested by companies in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia momentarily, with more to come.