Messaging, more specifically WhatsApp has culturally changed the way we communicate over the last 5 years.
Chat technology has enabled businesses to be more efficient and agile.
Many organisations use WhatsApp for internal discussions, crisis and issues management. Some knowingly use it for chatting to both customers & suppliers and there are many organisations where the official line is: “don’t use your personal WhatsApp for client engagement”, but it simply continues under the carpet. But why would a company directive be so knowingly ignored? The answer is simple, because WhatsApp a more relevant communication format than email & phones and sales are being made, and issues being resolved. People simply love messaging – and WhatsApp does it best.
Whilst a fantastic messaging platform, for some though, who blend in their work communications into their own personal space, their inboxes are now a mix of family and friends and embarrassing Football/Netball/Golf mates posting morally dubious videos and memes.
Like SMS or email, it is a great common communications denominator. Pretty much EVERYONE uses WhatsApp after all, but it has without doubt, become the messaging platform of CHOICE, with 1.6bn active daily users worldwide.
The average WhatsApp user checks their messages 23 times per day. It is this frequency that is pushing work related communications to the simple, and easy UI of WhatsApp. Both sales staff and customers realise it is the quickest and easiest way to speak to someone, and make that sale, or solve that problem.
But how many of us have considered the business risks of direct client communications using WhatsApp messaging?
GDPR issues aside, what about the fact that these conversations are going under the business radar? Nothing is being logged in your CRM systems. These conversations are out of the businesses control, and when team members move onto pastures new, they are taking company client communication history with them. And how will you remove PII from an employees (or ex employee) personal WhatsApp account? Now you can begin to see the problem.
Whilst many business might consider the GDPR problems, many overlook the one that hits Facebook in the pocket – violation of their Terms and Conditions of sale, and their Business Policy……..
WhatsApp’s Terms of Service prohibits non-personal use
How often do you scroll through T&C’s, and press accept without reading a single word? Well, I can assure you, WhatsApp’s Terms of Service prohibit its use for non-personal purposes.
For those not wanting to read through the full war & peace version (https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/), I’ve highlighted the relevant part for you here:
So, the fact that your teams WANT to use WhatsApp, how can you keep your staff happy, your customers & clients happy and still use WhatsApp?
WhatsApp API is here! Brands can now message consumers!
Granted, still in early access as of today (Jan 2020) but we have been rolling out WhatsApp solutions to clients now for 4 months – Estate Agents, Mortgage Brokers, Vets, Automotive, PR Agencies, Marketing Agencies, Schools, Solicitors………the list of verticals is long – if you want your brand, company or team to be accessible by clients over WhatsApp, then WhatsApp API is for you.
WhatsApp API enables business and customers to communicate freely over WhatsApp, fully encrypted, adhering to GDPR and of course, WhatsApp T&C’s.
You can now give free reign for your sales & service teams to communicate freely over your business WhastApp account, via our “Shared Team Inbox” for WhatsApp API.
Need to integrate your business WhatsApp to your CRM? No problem, there is an API for complete integration capabilities.
Can’t I use the Free WhatsApp for Business App on my phone?
Of course you can, but not without limitations, but for any business with a team of 3 people, WhatsApp API is a must – see below:
Using WhatsApp API’s rules to your advantage
You may or may not be aware, but WhatsApp API place a number of rules, to prevent misuse. At first, you might think these restrictive, but when you think about it, you can use this to your advantage.
There is a reason why email has open rates of 14% and WhatsApp has 92%.
Email is full of junk, and if WhatsApp didn’t place controls, WhatsApp would lose relevance.
What does this mean for businesses? Well, firstly, you can only message a user that has a) messaged you first, or b) given consent by way of a tick box on a form.
Secondly, whilst you can freely message the customer for a period of 24 hours (after their last message), after 24 hours you can only engage via “notification templates”.
These messages must be targeted & relevant (based on reasons for original enquiry).
For example, this notification is NOT acceptable (and WhatsApp will not approve it):
“Hi John. I hope you are having a great day 😀. My name is Alice from the ABC Insurance team. You are now at the perfect point in the process to discuss your mortgage insurance options. I want to book you in for a half hour appointment to go over your personalised options. We can also go over any questions or concerns you might have about the next steps. Can you let me know a good day/time for you? Thanks.”
This would be rejected upon the grounds of “marketing”.
However, the following message IS acceptable. Therefore good to send out, to try and re-ignite a prospect.
“Hi John. We were just following up your recent enquiry for a 3 bed house to rent. Please let us know if you are still interested in this, or similar properties? Kind regards, Alice.”
If the customer replies, you are then back into free form messaging – send pics, videos, whatever – its WhatsApp as you know it.
How using Personal WhatsApp in Estate Agency can violate terms
If you’d like to find out more about how Stitch can connect your sales & service teams over your business WhatsApp API account, then WhatsApp Us to discuss further! Just click on this link, or use the QR code below (just point your smartphone camera at it!). Or, good old email, on firstname.lastname@example.org