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What is WhatsApp Business? How does it differ from regular WhatsApp?
As WhatsApp cements its dominance in the online messaging space, businesses are increasingly discovering that they, too, can take advantage of it since their customers already have WhatsApp installed on their phones. But the regular WhatsApp is not optimized for businesses, so Facebook brought out a WhatsApp Business version to address the shortfall. But how do you use it? And what benefits does it offer small businesses?
WhatsApp Business is a version of WhatsApp explicitly catering to the needs of businesses. Using the app, businesses can communicate with customers one-on-one, promote their latest goods and special deals, and generally make themselves easier to contact for business queries.
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What is WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business is another free version of WhatsApp designed for businesses to communicate with their customers. Since many people already have WhatsApp installed on their phones, WhatsApp Business is designed for those customers to contact their favorite companies on the same platform to ask questions, place orders, and so on. The app can push the business’s latest offers, deals, and much more.
What is the difference between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business has various features which are not available on the regular WhatsApp app.
The user profile on the regular WhatsApp is rather barebones. You can add a name, profile picture, status, and phone number, and that’s pretty much it. On the business version, however, you can add a whole lot more, such as:
- Opening hours
- Company website
- A custom message describing your business
- Your business name, address, and phone number
- A profile picture. This can, for example, be your company logo or an image of what you sell.
Note that you cannot use personal names for a business account. You have to use a business name, and even then, WhatsApp has strict guidelines on what words and characters are allowed and not allowed to be in that name. This can prove quite problematic if your personal name is part of your company name. A bit of creativity is required to get around this problem.
Personally connect with customers
Customers naturally like the personal touch from businesses, and messaging apps enable companies to give customers personal attention. Real people can also deal with orders and questions faster than automated bots. If you’re in a highly competitive business niche, this can make all the difference to a customer giving you repeat business in the future.
Highlight products and services
You also have the option of setting up a product catalog. This catalog can be shared through social media, allowing people to browse the listings. If they want to order something, they can click a link to be connected to the business via WhatsApp to start the order.
Busy businesses can’t always reply to messages right away. So you can set up a custom automated welcome message to let the customer know that you have received their message and you’ll get back to them as quickly as possible.
Again, if time is of the essence in a busy business, sending quick replies is a lifesaver. So you can set up common replies to frequently asked questions, and you can just tap on the reply for it to be sent.
Put labels on chats to categorize each customer
If your business starts to increase, you will need a filing system to track order statuses and which customers are new. So you can set up colored labels and then tag each conversation with the correct label to keep track of where that conversation is at. Are you still waiting on a payment? Have you sent out the package yet?
Integrate a WhatsApp button into your Facebook business page
Finally, this is not strictly a WhatsApp Business feature — it is also available for regular WhatsApp as well. But if you have a Facebook business page, you can add a call button at the top of the page. This will help to encourage new customers to contact you on WhatsApp.
What is the WhatsApp Business API?
The WhatsApp Business app is meant for small businesses. But if your business is on a medium to large scale, you should look at the WhatsApp Business API. This is intended for companies with customer support teams, large numbers of customers, and who need to scale up their customer communications as they grow.
The API itself is free to apply for, but you need to connect it to your existing business communication platform, which will charge you fees for their service. The API itself is also in a restricted beta mode at the moment, so you need to apply to WhatsApp for access.
Read more: Is WhatsApp safe? How does its end-to-end encryption work?
No. You can only use one or the other. For that reason, it’s highly recommended to get a second mobile phone for your business and install the business version on that device.
The smartphone app is free of charge.
The API itself is free, but you need to pay the monthly and set-up fees charged by the communication platform you sign up with. These fees can vary considerably, so you need to do your homework to find the best deal.
Yes. You must first install the mobile app and set it up there. But afterward, logging into the desktop or web client will sync everything over.
No. WhatsApp has been very clear that sending unsolicited bulk sales messages is not allowed, and this is grounds for your account to be closed. The business app is there to personally interact one-to-one with individual customers.
If you want to build a customer community, it’s better to set up a WhatsApp group and invite people to it (making it clear that by doing so, they consent to messages being sent to them.) WhatsApp communities are a new feature that you may also want to consider.