A modification to a support page on the WhatsApp FAQ seems to suggest a change that could indicate how Facebook intends to make the transition from a design originally meant for personal communications to corporate use and, consequently, potentially more profitable for the company: classifying business accounts between those that have installed the WhatsApp Business application but have used it, and these that do and use the other levels.
The first level is actually pretty dissuasive: any company can download the application and install it for customer service purposes, but when people search for the name of the company, such profiles will appear with a gray badge next to them and a question mark. This is not the kind of profile a company wants, because it generates doubts of all kinds to users as to the veracity of the account: it could be a scam, data capture or some other dubious activity.
The second level is a confirmed account: in this case, WhatsApp will have taken the step of verifying that the telephone number used to set up the business account matches the telephone registered in the name of the company in question, which earns a gray badge with a tick, giving users a higher degree of security about its authenticity.
The third level, a verified account, comes with a green badge and the company’s logo, after WhatsApp has carried out a verification process that ensures that the account is legitimate. When looking for a company with which you want to interact for whatever reason, therefore, the normal thing is to aspire to find that company with at least a confirmation mark or, better still, verification, which for many businesses could become an extremely important factor in customer service.
Unsurprisingly, for Facebook, users retain control over how and when companies communicate with them: corporate accounts cannot add users to send them advertising, but must wait to be added by users. If you are interested in a company’s account you can keep it in your contact list, but if you are bombarded with intrusive or annoying advertising, you can simply close the account. This is a development that could create a new environment in which brands will have to learn to behave, in which the rules and protocols will be developed on the basis of users’ preferences, and that could benefit Facebook is the service gains traction, which seems likely in markets such as Spain, where WhatsApp rules.
Everything indicates that the future of customer service no longer lies with the telephone and the call center, but with instant messaging. If you have a business, start thinking about what your level will be on this platform. If adoption processes meet expectations, moving quickly and starting to design structures, procedures and standards could be a game changer .
(En español, aquí)