WhatsApp is without doubt, the world’s most influential digital communication channel and its adoption in the UK is prolific. Over 65 billion messages are sent everyday on WhatsApp. Just think about that. 65 billion. Every day. This is not a fad for the “yoof” of today, but an essential tool across all age brackets.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing restrictions have placed new challenges on businesses. Whilst consumers may not be able to enter your place of business, you then you have to think of new ways of reducing barriers of communications to aid the sales and/or service process.

1 – Be messaging, not email centric

The first problem is that most consumer businesses are still email & voice centric. But we consumers are messaging centric. This is the first disconnect any business needs to understand if they are wanting to get closer to their customers.

We’re not saying consumers don’t want to talk, but it’s when they want to talk is key. Consumers prefer to do their research, then reach out via messaging (typically WhatsApp) before they want to talk to business further.

When we are in the mode to buy, or looking to buy, our mobile phones are usually first to hand. If you don’t offer an easy way of engaging with a customer from their enquiry, they will move on.

Imagine you are wanting to purchase some new tyres for your car. You search on your phone, and find a nearby centre. You want to see if they have your tyre size in stock. On the webpage, you are presented with a phone number, or a “Click-to-WhatsApp” button. Over 65% of people would prefer “Click-to-WhatsApp” instead of picking up the phone to call you. Now think of the business you could have lost from:

  • Customers who can’t be bothered to call, and move on to one of your competitor?
  • Customers who call your number, but don’t get answered in time and hang up?

How many more sales could your organisation make if you could answer these enquiries via WhatsApp, and prevent them moving onto engaging with your competitors?

2 – Keep in channel

If a customer reaches out on live chat for example, and you fail to respond in time, then ask yourself a serious question – is live chat right for your business? Too often, we see examples of unmanned live chat windows, simply asking for an email address, with no attempt to satisfy an enquiry.

The chances are, if they wanted to email you, they would have done so. Likewise, if they WhatsApp your business, don’t just try and turn the chat into a phone call at the first opportunity.

Over 56% said they thought not being able to get their answer in a live chat session poor, or very poor experience. So, if you outsource your live chat, you might want to re-consider your options.

3 – Open your mind to new ideas

We had an estate agent client of ours, who had always insisted on only accepting viewings on properties once they had registered their applicants over the phone. Over the past few years, they (and other agents) stated it was harder to speak to people by phone. This did not mean less viewings, it just meant more work to finally get hold of the customer, and obtain the necessary information from them.

However, by using the WhatsApp API, they have completely transformed this to a seamless messaging experience from point of enquiry, to arranging a viewing, but maintaining the desired qualification policies throughout the process.

4 – Expectation vs reality

Most businesses worry that customer enquiries need to be answered within seconds. For any phone calls, or live chats, then these have to be answered there and then, as these are forms of synchronous communications.

Not every business can answer every enquiry, with the appropriate person first time, every time. But with WhatsApp, as the chat is asynchronous, meaning there is not the same time demand to reply. Sure, the sooner we get a response, the better, but what the customer WANTS, is to engage with the right person, and replied to in the channel they enquired in.

As you can see, 82% of customers DO NOT expect an instant reply. That’s massive. The key is to route an enquiry to the correct part of your business accurately. Then, when the customer is replied to, they can get served by the product/service expert, and not be shifted around the business.

5 – From pavement to WhatsApp

Think of places where you advertise a web address, or phone number. You can now think about engaging with customers that walk past your shop window.

Or maybe if you place ads in physical media. Just think, if someone saw a QR code in the front of a car for sale, they could scan it, and you could automatically send them a full spec of the car via WhatsApp. This keeps your customer informed, and more importantly, you will be at the heart of their most treasured inbox for when they are ready to make the next buying moves.