In 2018, WhatsApp announced that it’s expanding its WhatsApp Business version with a release of an API that enables vendors to integrate with the most popular chat app in the world. While still on a beta, many vendors (such as Salesforce, Zendesk, Twilio, LivePerson etc.) jumped on this great opportunity and started developing amazing solutions to help sales, service and support teams engage with their customers over the channel they preferred. Even though this direction is absolutely amazing, and is no doubt the future of customer engagement, there are still limitations and disadvantages to this API.
Here are a few of them:
Engaging customers through company’s phone number
The WhatsApp API requires a dedicated phone number that its only use is solely dedicated for customer chats. This line may prove to be Extremely costly and require complex implementation and maintenance. This works well when you have a large amount of people contacting you and a chatbot answers them automatically. Alternatively you can have multiple agents replying if the bot doesn’t answer.
The greatest limitation here is the missing one on one experience. The human touch. As good as chatbots get, they are and will stay automated machines. The lack of emotional AI will always be present and felt by your customer. Personally, when I contact my insurance agent, or when I am booking a vacation through my travel agent I am looking to speak directly with a person. As the information and guidance I seek are based on past and present relationship and history.
Using the API you can reply to customers’ messages automatically and provide relevant information using company’s resources and automated bots , speeding up and improving customer experience significantly.
To avoid spamming customers, WhatsApp allows you to engage with your customers only after they start the conversation. In addition, you have a 24-hour timeframe to reply to their message. If you missed this timeframe, you will need to wait for them to contact you again. An exception to this rule is sending your customers pre-approved template messages (for example, ticket information, reminders, authentication details etc.). These templates go through WhatsApp’s approval, a process that can take anywhere between 3–25 days for initial approval and any modification.
Going live in production
Since The API promises many powerful features and capabilities, developers are building sophisticated integrations and solutions. For example, some vendors leverage AI to understand the context of the conversation and provide better and faster responses and some provide smart agent routing based on the customer’s inputs.
As of the end of 2019, the API itself and any solutions that integrate with it, are still in a beta testing mode and it might take some time for them to go live in production. Another point to consider is that Facebook tends to change their API’s very often and developers need to follow these changes (almost on a daily basis) and adapt to new changes in their product continuously.
So although the WhatsApp API sounds very promising even at its very early stage, and valuable integrated solutions are coming up, I suggest that before implementing it you should make sure that you examine and visit all its limitations, and check that the API is aligned with your use cases and the pains you are trying to solve.
Whatslly, a Salesforce AppExchange Partner, seamlessly connects WhatsApp and Salesforce and turns WhatsApp into a 1:1 Customer Relationship Channel.
As your sales, support and /or service agents to chat with customers through WhatsApp Whatslly automatically identifies and pulls up all customer details from the CRM. Chatting in context, sending an email, and scheduling a meeting are now all done easily and from within the WhatsApp web app.
With Whatslly, agents now use customer info to create in depth, personalized and more relevant chats. Helping Improve customer satisfaction, speeding up and simplifying daily work tasks.
One of the most powerful parts of the product is the option to automatically copy WhatsApp chats into Salesforce as Activities, Tasks or Cases. This enables companies to gain visibility of these customer interactions and promises an enhanced customer experience.