Posted: Mon 18th Jul 2022
WhatsApp is the world's most popular private messaging service, with over two billion users across the globe. But do you know about its free-to-use business app, created specifically for small and medium-sized businesses?
The WhatsApp Business app's tools are designed to help small business owners connect with customers, showcase key products and services, take orders and answer customers' questions quickly. Already, 175 million messages being sent to a WhatsApp business account each day, and the opportunities for small businesses are huge.
Here, we speak to Dr Anna Crossley, owner of Huddersfield-based facial aesthetics business A* Aesthetics. Dr Crossley tells us how she uses the WhatsApp Business app to manage her communication with patients and make sure her business is providing high-quality customer service.
When and how did you start your facial aesthetics business?
I started the business in November 2018. I used my skillset as a dental surgeon to pivot gradually into medical facial aesthetics and establish my own clinic.
Did you seek any support when setting up your new business?
I self-funded the equipment, the lease for the room I use for my clinic, and the training I needed. I used the knowledge I'd gained from the mentors on my training course, who were already successful entrepreneurs.
How did those early days of business ownership go? What were the challenges?
Initially, I needed to establish a patient base for treatments. To create this, I partnered with local businesses – such as beauticians, hairdressers and nail technicians – that had a pre-existing client base who might be interested in facial aesthetics treatments.
I also networked at local business events and wedding fayres, although this proved completely pointless and fairly expensive.
At that stage, I realised word of mouth from existing patients is very powerful in terms of networking and getting referrals and so I concentrated on that instead. Thankfully, it paid off and momentum grew.
How did you first become aware of the WhatsApp Business app? What aspects of your business has it helped you with?
I saw it on the App Store and thought how useful it would be for connecting with patients. I already had a physical and virtual SIM card with different phone numbers so I can easily separate my personal contacts on the WhatsApp consumer app, and keep my business customers on the WhatsApp Business app.
I don't employ any staff so the app allows patients to contact me directly. Then I can save time by sending automatic replies advising them to visit my website for online booking.
What are your views around customer service?
Good customer service is absolutely imperative in a service-based industry. Your entire reputation is built on how you make a customer feel and rewarded by word-of-mouth referrals. I always treat patients how I'd like to be treated myself, with honesty, integrity and sound ethics.
Have you tried to build a community around your brand?
Yes, very much so. I'm based in a village where people know each other well. My business is not active on social media as my patients are low-key, understated and private individuals and don't want to be posted on the typical social media platforms.
I'd advise other small business owners to put the effort into building the customer experience away from the jazz of social media, with personalised and private communication.
What are the next steps for your business?
To keep growing my patient base, offer different treatment options, and build loyalty via personalised and private communication on WhatsApp and the repeat business model.
Use the WhatsApp Business app to: