WhatsApp Business, the next big thing?

It's been interesting over the last couple of months to see the emergence of a new way for customers and businesses to communicate. I was analyzing some of our Instagram analytics recently when the pop up shown above came onto the screen. “Add WhatsApp Business to your profile”.

As a result of Covid 19 and lockdown restrictions, businesses had to innovate the way they communicate with their customers. The reduction of face-to-face interaction made it difficult for small businesses to interact and communicate with their customer base. I feel that this change forced many businesses to update their digital experience and reduce the reliance on face-to-face interaction. The introduction of WhatsApp business alongside increased focus on social media messaging platforms such as Instagram DMs and Facebook Messenger are now and will continue to be a hugely popular method of communication for both a customer and business.

I feel that email and call will slowly erode as customers demand more convenience. Although many feel the time it takes to compose an email is relatively short, I personally appreciate the ease that messaging a business through WhatsApp or Instagram provides. Is it less formal yes , but is formality a thing of the past?

I spoke with a friend this morning about how the future of business and customer communication will be much more informal. We also spoke about the recent shift from formal to causal uniform/attire in the workplace, will explore this deeper soon. Anybody on social media will see huge brands across the world becoming more playful on platforms such as TikTok and communicating directly with customers in the comment sections. Gone are the days where a company abides by a strict marketing plan. Companies and marketing teams are relishing the opportunity to speak directly with customers in a conversational and informal manner.

The picture above shows how a brand such as Pespi communicate with their customers in an informal and humorous manner. I love seeing brands empowering their marketing team to interact with customers in a jovial manner. This is how authentic business-customer relationships are created and fostered even in the biggest of brands. Small businesses in particular should be adopting this style and interacting with their followers in a way that extends beyond direct call to actions.

I feel the introduction of WhatsApp business is something that small businesses across many industries should seriously consider. I used this channel of communication in January this year. I had purchased a pair of shoes and wanted to make sure I had selected the right ones, rather than wait until they came and then deal with the consequences, I felt very confident in reaching out to the company via their WhatsApp business channel. Rather than waiting days for a member of the customer service team to get back to me via email, I got a response within five minutes and the problem was solved. It was amazing how quick the response was, and quality of service delivered.

I understand many people still prefer formal channels of communication such as email or phone, I had this conversation with my employer recently. We noticed a dramatic increase in enquiries through replies to our Instagram stories. People simply viewed the story on Instagram, swiped up and composed a message. My employer was surprised to see genuine inquiries coming through this “informal” channel and stated he would never personally communicate like that with businesses he was interested in purchasing something from.

It’s clear there’s been a shift in how businesses and customers communicate. Marketing in the past would drive eyes to websites and contact info such as email but I feel customers now demand even more convenience. Marketing in the now involves utilizing functions such as Instagram story through which a customer can simply reply to a story with questions or comments.

Many people joke about dreading a call they must make to a business and not knowing what to say etc. or searching the web to find the relevant email address that may take days to respond. These new channels of communication such as WhatsApp business remove these types of problems and create an easy way for a customer to get in touch. Convenience is king nowadays and businesses big or small must start to recognize that making their communication channels with customers as easy to use as possible will create huge benefits.

I also want to mention the use of chat bots on websites. Some websites have executed these perfectly to which through automated messaging a customer can speak with an AI powered bot to help with queries and concerns. But I still find many of these chat bots fail to provide the proper assistance needed and often refer to FAQs or provide a number for you to call. This number when called requires the customer to join a long queue. We all have been through this and understand how frustrating this can be. So, its important that when implementing new channels of communication such as Live chat features, WhatsApp business, Instagram DMs that these are being managed effectively by the business. Designating sufficient resources to these areas is key in order to unlock the full benefits they have to offer! People want to speak directly with a customer service agent but how can this be achieved in a way that’s more efficient than a phone call or email?

Is WhatsApp business the answer?

Let me know your thoughts below.



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