Posted: Fri 17th Feb 2023
Getting customers’ attention nowadays is a challenge for many small businesses.
The increasing chatter of social media has gradually reduced the appeal of traditional channels such as email and phone.
Now, messaging channels such as WhatsApp have become a more attractive way to engage your customers.
This trend has accelerated since the pandemic, as evidenced by a spike in WhatsApp messages dealt with by support teams, as customers have increasingly sought out easier and more convenient ways to connect with businesses.
Mobile messaging is increasingly popular because it's conversational - people like to chat! This is reflected by the fact that 70% of customers want to use conversational channels when communicating with businesses.
With chat, responses are quick and to the point, conveniently delivered to your mobile device via a user interface that we're all familiar with.
Email, on the other hand, can seem overly structured and slow - and frustrating if it’s a “no-reply”!
Customers don’t want their interactions to feel formal and time-consuming, they want quick, personalised chat based on previous conversations.
This is where WhatsApp (and other business messaging services) can help!
So messaging channels and specifically WhatsApp are increasingly being used as a more effective way to engage with customers.
But there are challenges, especially if you’re a growing business with more than a couple of people.
Most small businesses use the WhatsApp Business app, which is a great way to get started. But when your message volumes grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage efficiently all those conversations - who answered what message, and when?
This is because the Business app consists of just one account per number, making it difficult to share the workload of responding to customers amongst your agents.
To fix this problem, Meta created the WhatsApp Business Platform, and the great news is that it’s now available for small businesses.
The Business Platform allows service providers (such as Converso) to plug into WhatsApp and create a shared team inbox. Now each agent has their own account, and an inbox containing their own assigned messages.
No more handling multiple clients and messages from a single account and log-in! Now you can share and manage all customer conversations across your team, with each employee working on their own inbox, with all internal and external communications coordinated from a single place.
This provides a range of benefits for sales and support teams:
More productive working by assigning customer conversations to specific users - every user has a message “to do” list
When an employee leaves, all their client conversations are archived on Converso for as long as required
When an employee is out of the office or on holiday, their conversations are still viewable and actionable by other agents via the Team inbox
Archives are easily searchable for fast data retrieval for audit and support purposes
Easy integration with accounting, payment and CRM apps for seamless updates to customer profiles and bookkeeping
Coming up - some key features and benefits of the WhatsApp Business Platform that can help you boost your bottom line by improving sales and reducing costs.
Let’s dive in!
Got a special promotion or releasing a new product? Then you need to generate a customer response without being obtrusive.
The WhatsApp Business Platform allows you to do this through broadcast or newsletter messages sent to multiple customers at the same time.
With open rates of over 90% compared to email’s 21%, you’re almost guaranteed that your message will get noticed!
Just as importantly, you can create personalised messages for tagged groups with specific characteristics, like location, preferences, previous purchases, etc. This makes the message more relevant for the recipient, and therefore more likely to get actioned.
Messages can be sent with integrated CTA (call to action) buttons such as “Click for info” or “Sign up here” for a frictionless response. Or you can make it easy for customers to reply by adding quick reply buttons, such as “Call me” or “Yes, please!” - after all, tapping is quicker than typing!
Bulk messaging through WhatsApp means you can achieve response rates you could only dream about with email, making sure your marketing campaigns are a success.
Conversational selling, often referred to as conversational commerce, is a topic in itself.
As opposed to selling via a static website, conversational sales enables you to chat with your customer and answer their questions in real-time, address purchase objections, and send a checkout for quick payment - all in the same conversation!
The WhatsApp Business Platform enables integration with third-party e-commerce applications, such as Shopify.
Now you can easily follow up on customers that may have abandoned their cart on your site, or send a message with support and delivery information, all using data from your Shopify store.
No need to send a follow-up email that may be forgotten, or send the customer back to your website to start the sales process again: it can all be completed in one WhatsApp conversation.
Conversational commerce enables you to provide a great customer buying experience, either as part of your existing online site, or as a replacement for it.
Alternatively, with the WhatsApp Business Platform, you can import your product catalogue to your WhatsApp business account, create multi-product and single-product messages with integrated checkout, payment and support - and avoid the cost and upkeep of an online store!
When you have that overdue invoice that isn’t getting paid, sending a request via WhatsApp can help get it top of mind!
As we’ve seen above, WhatsApp messages get a higher response rate than emails - and the same is also true for payment requests.
Rather than sending an impersonal no-reply email with no easy way for a customer to raise a query, sending a WhatsApp payment request creates a twp-way conversation, making it easy for a customer to ask a question about their bill.
For example, “Can I pay next week?” or “Please explain the last item on the invoice” can be dealt with seamlessly as part of the same conversation, without the time lag and hassle of switching to another channel. You can immediately address their concerns, rather than blocking their questions with a “no-reply” email - which usually ends up just blocking their payment!
It also gives you the opportunity to provide more attractive terms to encourage quicker payment, eg “Pay today for a 5% discount!” and with integrations with Stripe for card payments and Open Banking for Pay by Bank, you can provide a payment option to suit every customer.
Integrations with accounting software packages like Xero enable easy import of your existing invoices that can be sent directly via WhatsApp to your customers. With branded payment URLs and verified sender status, you can also assure customers that the request is from you, and isn’t a phishing attempt.
Personalised and automated reminders can also be sent as a follow-up, making sure that your unpaid invoice doesn’t get forgotten, but in a subtle way - a recent survey by Intrum Customer Payments showed that 58% of late payers say that they had just forgotten to pay their bill!
If your business relies on customer bookings, you can make appointment setting easy by automating the process using WhatsApp.
The customer accesses your support service via your WhatsApp number or chat button on your website (see below), or alternatively they can use a QR code to open a chat session on their mobile phone.
Once they’ve initiated a conversation, a chatbot manages the interaction and offers time slots in which to book the appointment.
The customer enters a simple booking flow to find a suitable time and date, and after confirmation with the customer, books the appointment in your system. All done without any need for human intervention, phone call or email!
Many businesses now use webchat to connect with customers and prospects whilst they are browsing their websites. Although this is a great way to provide support to browsing customers, after they leave your site, the webchat session ends and with it your conversation with a potential customer.
WhatsApp webchat gets around this problem by establishing a persistent conversation that continues after the customer has left your site. This enables you to proactively reach out to the customer on their mobile phone to send checkouts for relevant products, provide post-sale customer support, or engage them in future (with their permission) conversations for sales and marketing purposes.
Just install a WhatsApp widget on your website and you’ve got a combined webchat and permanent messaging solution, connecting you to the customer during their whole conversation, whenever and wherever they are.
Messaging customers inevitably involves handling sensitive customer data - this can be anything from purchase details, to contact details, to personal sensitive information.
Within certain sectors such as advisory services (e.g. legal and accountancy), efficient data organization and management is a must. Businesses need to be able to access customers’ private data at any time and comply with GDPR (and the Data Protection Act as the UK equivalent is known).
Processing customers’ personal data comes with responsibilities. You need to be able to delete that data on demand, and provide audits of the data saved against a customer.
This becomes challenging when using personal messaging, as these services don’t have any central management or storage capability. However, with a business messaging service like Converso, all messages and relevant data are managed and stored centrally.
This enables you to access all messages sent and received between customers and employees, safe in the knowledge that they are tamper-proof and can be accessed at any time.
You can now stop worrying about that customer’s GDPR Subject Access Request (SAR), safe in the knowledge that you’re compliant and your communications are not going to leave you in a compromising position!
As well as being a more personalized way to connect with customers, messaging also offers agents the ability to save time.
Messaging is an asynchronous service, so rather than trying to coordinate a phone call by leaving endless voicemails (we’ve all been there!) agents can reach out between calls, and customers can respond when it’s convenient for them.
More specifically, if you have high call volumes and have to hold callers in a queue, you can offer to send a WhatsApp message to the caller’s mobile phone. They can then message the business when they prefer, thus avoiding the tedium of sitting in a phone queue. Responses can be handled by a chatbot, providing 24/7 service as well as freeing up human agent time.
(In considering these use cases, it’s important to note that WhatsApp is primarily a customer support tool and not a sales outreach platform - WhatsApp wants to avoid the platform getting a reputation as spammy or low quality. Therefore, messages should be relevant and personalised in order to provide a quality experience for the customer).
The reality is that email doesn’t cut through as it used to, as the number of people opening emails continues to dwindle. Conversely, more than 1 billion users are connecting with WhatsApp business accounts every week, making it a prime location to engage with your customers, send updates, and notify them of new products that they might be interested in.
To get your bottom line boost, get connected with WhatsApp’s Business Platform - you can be up and running in just 10 minutes!
If you have any questions on messaging and how it can help your business, connect with Chris on Enterprise Nation today.
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