Chatbots and Conversations Design
How to Use the Whatsapp Business API
A Guide on How to Get Started With Whatsapp Business API
Besides having your chatbot designed and built, your platform needs a channel to give life to your chatbot.
And even more important — customers are choosing where they want to contact your brand.
This story is focused on WhatsApp and its API, as it’s one of the most common and popular.
With more than two billion users, WhatsApp is not only the most sought-after messenger app for talking to friends and family, but businesses are increasingly turning to WhatsApp as well, in order to connect with their customers and consumers.
WhatsApp Business API
The WhatsApp Business API is the developer's API exposing all of its functionality, as a channel for communication and for businesses. It’s the API that enables you to make use of its sophisticated messaging platform, allowing you to provide customer care, send messages, chat with clients and deliver notifications on the world’s most popular messaging application.
From my and many others’ experience, it’s the right choice for small shops with a relatively small customer base, where you are able to respond to all customers alone. It supports Android and iPhone clients and comes with basic features for fast replies, labels, and a business profile.
Now, the biggest downside is that the WhatsApp Business API was built for handling individual conversations. Customer requests need to be answered on one mobile phone where the app is installed, and only four devices can be added that all work under the same account name.
One more downside is that you don’t see who actually answered a message from these four devices linked to your account.
It’s also controversial in terms of data privacy and is not compliant with the GDPR, which is an issue, especially for European businesses. Even if you are a company with headquarters set in the US, you’ll obviously have issues with that if you operate in problematic regions.
To give larger businesses a secure, scalable solution tailored to their needs, Facebook introduced the WhatsApp Business API in August 2018. This application programming interface (API) allows businesses to receive and answer unlimited WhatsApp messages from their customers.
This means, that you will be using a Vendor (most probably) who will offer you out-of-the-box integration with the API, a chatbot, and a cloud contact center. This is the usual tech/product stack for CPaaS, a communication platform as a service.
As businesses are evolving, the need for a platform that provides omnichannel experience is rising, which especially started growing during the recent pandemic. Every business needed a way to respond to their customers, which was pretty difficult as most of them had an on-premise Call Center, which required their agents to be deployed within offices.
Active User Base
Before going into details on how to get started, here’s just a brief overview of how much WhatsApp’s active user base grew throughout the last couple of years.
The main thing to note here is that with WhatsApp’s active user base growing, your potential market is growing together.
That should definitely be kept in mind when choosing the right channel for your services.
WhatsApp provides superb guides, so I strongly suggest checking out their official documentation as well as videos on getting started, such as the following one.
As the world’s most popular messenger app and with end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp is on its way to becoming the most powerful channel for customer communication as well.
Who can use WhatsApp Business
You can check the list carefully and make sure that your product or service is compliant, but usually, your vendor will be the one to help you and explain all the procedures.
Following are the steps to get you up and running.
1. Choose a Business Solution Provider
You can apply for access to the WhatsApp Business API through various business solution providers (BSP).
Make sure you find a BSP who is able to offer you a full platform that can accommodate your business needs. Pay attention to the following:
- Finding a vendor should be done from the official link for BSPs,
- Vendors’ offerings should include a multichannel experience, as you will have a need to grow more channels and reach more of your customers,
- Vendors’ offering should include a Chatbot Building Platform that is easy to use and a Cloud Contact Center, so your Agents can respond to all more complex queries,
- The vendor should be providing consultancy services for speeding up the onboarding process
2. Create a Business Manager
— in case you already don’t have one.
After you decided upon a solution provider, you will need to create a Business Manager and connect your Facebook page there.
After that, you will get a Business Manager ID, which you need to share with BSP, which in turn will send you a “messaging on behalf of” request and the Verify Your Business request within the Facebook Business Manager.
You can find a step-by-step manual on how to do that here.
3. Prepare a Phone Number That Will be Registered With WhatsApp
WhatsApp Business API has the same base as personal WhatsApp.
You will need to prepare a number, which will be connected to your Business. This number has to be valid, as WhatsApp will trigger a call to verify it during the registration process.
Usually, businesses choose a Call Center number, as it is widely known and customers are already used to it.
3. Get a Verified Account —The Green Tick
BSP will send a request to WhatsApp to verify your Business in order to get a green tick.
Not all Businesses can receive this, as this is related to your customer base, global presence, revenues, and general Brand name. But even if WhatsApp rejected your business, you are able to use WhatsApp Business API without any issues.
4. Prepare a Chatbot to Respond to Customer Inquiries
I earlier wrote about the benefits, and why you need a Chatbot. I suggest checking out the details in the below article.
Why Your Business Needs a Chatbot
In today’s world chatbot is not a luxury, a chatbot is a necessity if you want to keep your customers happy.
5. Let Your Customers Know They Can Reach You on WhatsApp
Marketing activities solely depend on you, but letting customers know that they can reach you on WhatsApp helps a lot.
You could also use WhatsApp’s feature “Click to WhatsApp”.
This allows customers to connect with your business on WhatsApp after clicking the “Send Message” button on your Facebook or Instagram ad.
Linking to WhatsApp through a QR code also gives people a quick and convenient way to reach you.
You can create a WhatsApp Button on your website or just share your https://wa.me/number link and they will be able to reach you easily.
I hope you enjoyed the article! Hopefully, you could get a brought but high-level overview, and an idea of what is needed to start with WhatsApp.
I’ve been working with Chatbots and WhatsApp for the past couple of years, and I’m looking forward to sharing more regarding this topic on Medium. Stay tuned and thanks for reading! 🎉