Practical Guide

WhatsApp CRM: Using Respond.io As a CRM with WhatsApp Integration (Jul 2021)

Chris Lai
Content Writer, Respond.io
October 8, 2020

Trying to use WhatsApp for your business but bumping into seemingly simple problems? This post is for you. We’ll walk you through how to use respond.io as a WhatsApp CRM, show you how to solve common problems like using WhatsApp Business for multiple users, import WhatsApp Contacts to CRM WhatsApp, send them the first message, and even WhatsApp broadcasts. The WhatsApp Business CRM you always wanted is here. :)

WhatsApp CRM: Understanding The Basics

There are two types of WhatsApp Business Accounts - WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business API. WhatsApp Business App is designed for small businesses in mind, while WhatsApp Business API was created for SMEs and enterprises.

At first glance, WhatsApp Business App seems perfect because it's free and easy to set up. However, it is quite difficult to use WhatsApp Business App with multiple users and there is no way to connect WhatsApp Business API to any business software or service.

This is an image of a table showing the difference between WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business API. WhatsApp Business App is made for smaller businesses in emerging markets. It's free and easy to set up. Best of all, it allows businesses to send the first message! At first glance, WhatsApp Business App seems perfect for business use. But broadcasts are limited to just 256 people and the app can only be used on 1 phone at a time. WhatsApp Business API supports multiple users and devices. It also allows Template Messaging, making it ideal for programmatic messaging such as sending a high volume of WhatsApp API notifications.
WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API

WhatsApp Business API is just that, an API. This means you’ll be able to connect your WhatsApp Business Account to software like respond.io. To open a WhatsApp Business API for your company, you’ll need to apply for one through a WhatsApp Partner.

Getting a WhatsApp Business API Account

In order to avoid spammers or illicit companies getting API accounts, WhatsApp has made applying for an account a multi-step process. You’ll need to select a WhatsApp Partner, submit your business details, and wait a day or two for approval.

There are several Partners to choose from. Select a Partner based on their ability to provide or port the phone number of your choice and the API features they support. Last but not least, you’ll want to evaluate WhatsApp Partners based on their pricing.

To make things easier, we’ve partnered with a WhatsApp Partner to offer the cheapest WhatsApp Business API account on the market. This offer is only available to respond.io customers. Once you’ve got your account ready it’s time to choose a CRM for WhatsApp.

Choosing a WhatsApp CRM Provider

Since API accounts have no front-end interface, once your account is approved you’ll need to connect a WhatsApp CRM to start messaging. Originally, WhatsApp intended for companies to connect their in-house CRMs - this is not possible for many businesses.

Ideally, you’d connect a WhatsApp-based CRM that works out of the box but there aren’t many options for two main reasons. Most CRMs are still working on adding a messaging UI. And a CRM would need to integrate with each WhatsApp Partner rather than just one WhatsApp API.

This is an image of the criteria for choosing a WhatsApp CRM. This includes, features, pricing and supported Partners. WhatsApp Business API does not come with ready-to-use tools, so its features will depend on what you connect your API account to. Apart from that, you should pick a WhatsApp CRM with simple and flexible pricing. Last but certainly not least, the WhatsApp CRM or WhatsApp Business CRM must support your API Partner. Respond.io is a free WhatsApp CRM that support the most popular WhatsApp Partners. Check out the blog post to find out how to get a CRM WhatsApp free.
What to Look For When Choosing the Best CRM for WhatsApp

That’s why the most important criteria for choosing a WhatsApp CRM software would be if they support the WhatsApp Partner you created your account with. Then you’ll need to choose between WhatsApp API CRMs based on features & pricing.

At a minimum, look for desktop and mobile apps, the ability to import customers as WhatsApp Contacts, and the ability to send Message Templates. To accommodate both Sales and Support teams you’ll need more features, but more on that later.

Looking for the best WhatsApp CRM that’s free? We recommend you give respond.io a try. It offers a free WhatsApp CRM that’s not feature limited, connects to one of the most popular WhatsApp Partners & designed with WhatsApp Integration in mind. Here’s how you get started.

Connecting a WhatsApp Integration to Respond.io

With an API account and a free respond.io account ready, it’s time to connect and start messaging customers. The process of connecting will always involve getting a token or webhook from the WhatsApp Partner platform, adding it to respond.io & vice versa.

This is a picture showing how to connect WhatsApp API account to Respond.io. Secondly, add the Account SID and Auth Token. Copy the Account SID and Auth Token from Twilio and paste it on their respective fields in Respond.io platform.
How to Integrate WhatsApp Business with CRM

Generally, there are a set of tokens and webhooks for each WhatsApp number you connect. To connect please follow the Step by Step guide on how to integrate your WhatsApp API account. Now let’s move on to using your new WhatsApp CRM tool.

WhatsApp CRM: 4 Quick Wins To Get You Started

What can a CRM do? There are a ton of different use cases & workflows possible by using Respond.io with WhatsApp Business integration. But we’re going to start with four quick things you can do to get the best out of your CRM with WhatsApp Integration on day one.

1. Using WhatsApp Business With Multiple Users

Using WhatsApp Business with multiple users is one of the most well-known concerns with WhatsApp Business. With respond.io as your WhatsApp Business CRM, you can quickly and easily invite Users to your Space and organize them into Teams.

This is a picture showing the WhatsApp Business Multiple Users feature. Respond.io lets you use WhatsApp Business for multiple users and devices. You can easily collaborate with your teammates by inviting them to the platform.
Inviting New Users to Respond.io

To get started, go to Settings > Users and press Add User. Each user is added with their own permission levels - owner, manager, or agent. Once you’ve added all your Users, head to Settings > Teams to organize your Users into groups.

2. Importing WhatsApp Contacts From A Customer List To CRM WhatsApp

To get started with any WhatsApp CRM integration, it’s best when you can import your entire customer list as Contacts. Respond.io supports importing one Contact or multiple Contacts at a time or importing & syncing Contacts on the fly using a Contacts API.

This is an image showing how to import WhatsApp contacts to Respond.io. As WhatsApp API doesn’t come with its own contact management platform, a WhatsApp CRM is essential. Respond.io with WhatsApp Business API integration allows you to import WhatsApp Contacts via Contacts API or a CSV file.
Import WhatsApp Contact to WhatsApp for Business CRM

To import WhatsApp Contacts, go to Contacts > Add Contact and drag the CSV file to the designated field. Then click Import. Now that you’ve imported your WhatsApp Contacts, you can send them a broadcast with Message Templates.

3. Sending a WhatsApp Broadcast Using Message Templates

For a start, 360dialog & Vonage Users can simply sync their templates or create them directly on respond.io. For Twilio & Messagebird Users, you’ll need to submit the Message Template for approval at the Partner Hub, then add the template to respond.io.

Once your templates are synced, approved and readily available on our platform, you can now broadcast to your newly imported Contacts even if it’s your first time chatting with them on respond.io.

This is an image showing how to send a WhatsApp Broadcast Using Message Templates If you’re importing hundreds or thousands of customers at a time, sending one Message Template at a time would be too slow. The best thing to do would be to send a Message Template as a broadcast from the Broadcast Module.
Sending WhatsApp Broadcasts Using Message Templates with Message Preview

However, make sure they’ve opted in and are expecting to hear from you before broadcasting. This is to avoid anyone from blocking or reporting your number. If many Contacts mark you as spam, your account will be at risk of getting Flagged by WhatsApp.

To ensure you’re targeting the right audience, each Contact import adds a tag to the Contacts. Use this tag to target those Contacts in a Broadcast. If you’ve left a placeholder for the Contact name, be sure to use dynamic variables to fill in the Contact names in the Template placeholders.

4. Sending WhatsApp Notifications with CRM WhatsApp

If you’re not importing Contacts to message 1 on 1 or en masse, you’ll likely be looking to send WhatsApp Notifications to your Contacts through WhatsApp. Once you’ve imported your customers to respond.io, you’ll be able to send notifications through Messages API.

This is an image showing the Sending WhatsApp Notifications feature on Respond.io. Our platform’s Messages API allows businesses to programmatically send WhatsApp notifications. Companies can send a high volume of order updates or account alerts from their own systems. Messages API doesn’t support WhatsApp Template Messages at the moment, but it’s in the pipeline.
Sending a WhatsApp Notification with Messages API

However, before you do please be sure to upvote the Messages API 2.0 Feature Request, by doing so you’ll be notified of the update which will enable a ton more possibilities when it comes to notifications. Now let’s discuss using WhatsApp for Sales & Support.

WhatsApp Business CRM: Using a CRM with WhatsApp Integration for Sales & Support

Even before the first WhatsApp Business CRM products were released onto the market there were plenty of companies using WhatsApp for Sales or WhatsApp for Support. This isn’t hard. The difficult thing is using WhatsApp for Sales AND Support at the same time.

Companies using email and phone often segment conversations by creating different emails and phone numbers for sales & support. The benefit is that different departments can own their channels, but conversations get siloed resulting in a poor experience.

This is a picture showing how to automate Contacts Onboarding. Contact onboarding is important because it’s the first interaction a new customer may have with your business. It can be a welcome message or a simple question like what's their preferred language.
WhatsApp Contact Onboarding

Since WhatsApp will likely not approve different accounts for sales and support, companies will need to use the same WhatsApp number for both. The first step to achieving this is by asking Contacts about their needs with automated chat onboarding.

Setting up Contact Onboarding is as simple as creating a survey and sending using automation rules to send it to every new conversation started. Once you’ve got an idea of what the Contact needs, you can route the Contact to the correct team.

WhatsApp Business CRM Use Cases: Sales

Contact assignment helps your sales team stay organized. There are two ways to assign Contacts. Smaller businesses may use the Picking method, where sales agents manually assign a pending Contact to themselves or others (1). And then there’s Auto Assignment.

Auto Assignment is suitable for large companies that deal with a high volume of incoming messages. To activate this feature, navigate to Settings > Automatic Assignment and enable the toggle. Then select the auto-assignment method that best suits you.

This is a screenshot showing how to use Respond.io with WhatsApp Integration for sales. You may use tools like Contact Assignment (1), Contact View (2) and Snooze (3).
Using Respond.io As a WhatsApp Business CRM for Sales

There are two ways to auto-assign Contacts, Round Robin which assigns Contacts equally and Assign to User with Least Contacts. Regardless of the assignment mode, you can choose to assign to online agents only to ensure prompt response.

Stealing leads is a real problem in the sales industry. Restricting agents’ Contact View to just the Mine tab can help to avoid this (2). This feature is still in development, but you can make a View private or restrict it to select users.

Snooze Makes Sales Follow-Up Easier

Snooze helps sales agents to follow-up with their clients. Snoozed Contacts will be temporarily hidden from the list and reappear after a specific time. Once un-Snoozed, contacts will remain assigned to the same agent.

Contacts can be Snoozed by pressing the alarm icon at the top right of the Messages Module (3). Next, select the time for how long the Contact will be snoozed. Alternatively, you may pick a time and date for Contacts to reappear.

WhatsApp Business CRM Use Cases: Support

We’ve covered how respond.io with WhatsApp integration can be used for sales. But did you know respond.io makes an excellent customer support system too?

The Picking method is perfect for a small team of customer support agents. Agents may assign a pending support request to themselves or another agent from the dropdown menu (1). They may also reassign a case to their supervisor if it needs to be escalated.

This is a screenshot showing how to use Respond.io with WhatsApp Integration for support. You may use tools like Contact Assignment (1) and Mark Done (2).
Using Respond.io As a WhatsApp Business CRM for Customer Support

Auto Assignment is designed for enterprise that handles a large number of customer enquiries. Auto Assignment will also come in handy during peak season when a surge in messages is expected, ensuring every inquiry is responded in a timely manner.

Support agents can archive a resolved inquiry by marking it Done (2). Contact Assignment and Mark Done work in tandem to reduce the workload of managers and agents, allowing them to focus on resolving customer issues.

WhatsApp CRM: Infographic

This is an infographic of how to use respond.io as a WhatsApp CRM. First, you need to choose a WhatsApp API account. Then, choose a WhatsApp API. Finally, connect WhatsApp API account to respond.io. Once you connected WhatsApp API account to a WhatsApp CRM like respond.io, you can use WhatsApp with multiple users, import WhatsApp contacts, send the first WhatsApp message, send WhatsApp broadcast and send WhatsApp notifications.

Further Reading

This is how you make full use of respond.io as a CRM WhatsApp for sales and support messaging. If you’re interested to learn how other companies are doing WhatsApp sales and WhatsApp customer support, we recommend you read these three articles.

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