The WhatsApp customer service platform empowers your team to deliver better support. In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages of conversational support with WhatsApp API over traditional customer service channels. Plus, you’ll learn the basics of WhatsApp API and best practices to deliver customer support via WhatsApp. That’s not all — we’ll also show you some successful examples of how companies around the world are using WhatsApp for customer service.
Why Choose WhatsApp Customer Service Platform Over Traditional Support Channels
Traditionally, businesses use emails and webchat for customer service. However, email interactions are slow and people don’t check their inboxes frequently. Webchat visitors tend to be anonymous and it can be difficult for businesses to verify their identities.
Conversation threads on both channels are also scattered, resulting in no overview of the contact’s conversation history. These limitations challenge what every business wants: to provide personalized solutions, reduce resolution time and improve quality assurance.
By contrast, WhatsApp interactions are fast-paced, allowing inquiries to be resolved sooner. Agents can also identify the contacts by their number and access the conversation history on the same thread, enabling customized support for each contact.
WhatsApp Business App is designed for small businesses and lacks multi-user functionality and advanced automation. For medium to large companies looking to use the WhatsApp customer service platform with a team of agents, go for WhatsApp API.
WhatsApp Customer Service Platform: What You Should Know
WhatsApp API is more complex than WhatsApp Business App. Before you start using WhatsApp for customer service, let’s learn the fundamentals of WhatsApp API.
Costs Involved in Using WhatsApp API for Customer Service
For starters, using WhatsApp as a customer service platform is not free. There are two components of your monthly WhatsApp API payment, which are WhatsApp partner fees and WhatsApp conversation charges.
WhatsApp partner fees vary with each Business Solution Provider (BSP). Common practices include charging WhatsApp API set up and hosting fees. Some WhatsApp BSPs even apply a markup per message, which is not ideal for companies with large amounts of monthly support conversations.
To keep monthly costs in check, make sure you choose a BSP that does not add a message markup. As an example, respond.io does not charge its users for any of the aforementioned services.
When it comes to WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing model, support conversations often fall into the service conversation category, as it's generally customers who contact support teams to inquire or request help.
Thankfully, service conversations tend to be cheaper than business-initiated ones. What’s more, each WhatsApp Business Account receives 1,000 free service conversations per month.
WhatsApp does not allow businesses to message customers at any given time. To provide efficient support over WhatsApp, businesses should be aware of how WhatsApp API messaging restrictions work.
24-hour Customer Service Window Restrictions
To protect end-users from spam and encourage good customer support practices, WhatsApp API imposes a 24-hour customer service window. You’ll need to use a pre-approved WhatsApp Message Template to reply to customers outside this window or to start a conversation a new conversation with them if you’re following up on a support request.
However, the messaging window is extended to 72 hours when users message businesses through call-to-actions buttons on WhatsApp click-to-chat ads or Facebook Page call-to-action buttons. Most importantly, these conversations are free.
How to Use WhatsApp for Customer Support: 4 Quick Wins to Deliver Customer Service via WhatsApp on respond.io
Let's look at how using respond.io can improve your WhatsApp customer support delivery.
Use Message Templates to Follow Up on Complex Enquiries
A Message Template is able to reopen WhatsApp’s messaging window, enabling agents to follow up on customers’ inquiries outside the 24-hour window.
Unlike other WhatsApp Inbox products, respond.io allows you to sync, create and send WhatsApp message templates for support directly from the platform without the need to move between your Partner's Hub and WhatsApp Inbox.
Use Chat Automation to Answer FAQs, Route Customers and Escalate Cases
With chat automation on respond.io, you can set up a WhatsApp multiple-choice menu that provides answers to commonly asked questions. This frees up your customer support agents so they can focus on more pressing matters.
With the right Workflows setup, routing customers to the right team becomes an automated process. Plus, the Shortcuts button allows Agents to escalate support cases or create support tickets on external systems like Zendesk with just a click of a button.
Answer Messages Anywhere with the Mobile App
The respond.io mobile app allows agents to answer customer inquiries through WhatsApp on multiple phones. The app has vital modules such as Dashboard, Contacts and Messaging for an effortless messaging experience.
Agents will receive a push notification every time a new message comes in or when they are assigned new Contacts. This way, they won't miss any messages. The respond.io Android and iOS apps are available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store respectively.
Get a Holistic View of Customers with Contact Merge
Apart from WhatsApp, your Contacts are likely to use other messaging channels to reach you. However, this results in siloed conversations and Contact duplication. Luckily, respond.io supports Contact Merge so you can consolidate all Contact details and conversation history into a unified profile for a 360-degree view of the customer.
Ultimately, this helps agents understand the customers’ context and make an informed decision about the best way to help them. Looking for ideas to use the WhatsApp customer service platform? Read on to find out how other companies deliver customer support via WhatsApp.
Firsthand Report: 3 Companies using WhatsApp for Customer Service
Now that we've got the theoretical part of using the WhatsApp customer service platform out of the way, let's take a look at some practical examples of how companies around the world use WhatsApp for customer service.
1. How Alfa-Bank Uses the WhatsApp Customer Service Platform
Alfa-Bank, one of the largest banks in Kazakhstan, has chosen WhatsApp Business API as its customer service platform. Account holders can now receive account information, payment reminders and operational support over WhatsApp.
Many banks have started using messaging apps to answer simple banking inquiries through chatbots. However, Alfa-Bank goes one step further and offers live customer support on WhatsApp.
How does Alfa-Bank Offer Customer Service via WhatsApp?
To speak to a human representative while using WhatsApp for customer service, just add Alfa-Bank's WhatsApp number to your contact list and send the first message.
We tested Alfa-Bank’s WhatsApp Customer Service platform and were impressed by the response speed — we received a typed response within 2 minutes! What’s more, there was no generic greeting message or main menu in the chat. We were able to chat with an agent right away.
Is Alfa-Bank’s Whatsapp Customer Service Platform a Success?
Alfa-Bank breaks away from the industry norm by putting their customers in touch with a live agent instead of using a chatbot for their WhatsApp customer services. Let's hope more banks rethink their chatbot strategies and provide customers direct access to quality human support over WhatsApp.
2. How Bupa Uses the WhatsApp Customer Service Platform?
Wouldn’t it be nice to message your insurance company on WhatsApp? Bupa Australia has made that possible by launching WhatsApp Business customer support. Let's see what that looks like.
How Does Bupa offer Customer Service via WhatsApp?
There are two ways to start the chat. During a call, you may be directed to WhatsApp by an automated voice, or you can start by using a WhatsApp chat link on their website.
Gloriously, once you’ve sent a message you’ll be connected to a real person. A wide range of actions is possible on Bupa’s WhatsApp customer service platform, including signing up for insurance plans, getting a price quote or even making a claim.
Here’s what happened when we tested the service — we inquired about health insurance plans and the agent asked a series of questions including the conditions we want to be covered for and how often we go to the doctor.
Once we answered the questions, she linked us to a recommended plan on the Bupa website so we could examine the coverage details. Although we couldn’t get a price quote through WhatsApp, the agent made understanding the best plan for us easy.
Is Bupa’s Whatsapp Customer Service Platform a Success?
We don’t know if it’s going to be a long term success but we certainly had a good experience. The agent always replies within a few minutes, plus we have a written record of the conversation. This is the type of customer service people want - we just wish it didn’t take Covid-19 to get there.
3. How Yas Island Uses the WhatsApp Customer Service Platform
Yas Island is a massive recreation facility situated in Abu Dhabi that comprises race tracks, theme parks, hotels and much more. To help visitors plan their vacation, Yas Island has rolled out the WhatsApp customer service platform.
How Does the Yas Island WhatsApp Customer Service Platform Work?
Yas Island visitors have two ways to discover the channel. They can add the number listed on the Yas Island website and Facebook page, or they can use the WhatsApp Click to Chat link shown on the Yas Island website contact page.
To join the channel, start a chat by sending a message. An automated response will provide a menu with a list of commonly asked questions, ranging from directions to events. You can select an option by answering with the numbers 1 to 11.
The automated response provides a mixture of long and short answers. For questions that require additional detail, you’ll be asked to choose from more options or directed to their website via a link.
Although there's no indication, you can actually talk to a live agent. You’ll be given the option after typing a specific question or misspelling something like we did. It’s not instantaneous, but you’ll get an expected wait time for an agent's response.
In our case, the wait time was about 1 minute, which is pretty amazing considering we thought this was going to be a fully automated experience.
Is Yas Island’s Whatsapp Customer Service Platform a Success?
We certainly think so. Combining automated messaging with a live agent often results in a messy experience, so companies choose either a live agent or automated messaging, but not both. This solution by Yas Island is one of the best we’ve ever seen.
At the end of the day, the goal of customer service is to give the customers the information they need while providing a pleasant experience. Has Yas Island met these goals? With both the instant automated responses and live agents, it’s a resounding Yas.
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