Delving into WhatsApp Business API

In order to be used for more advanced business needs, WhatsApp released its WhatsApp Business API which is intended for middle to upper levels of enterprises. To help make consumers more comfortable in communicating with businesses using the API and for businesses to regard WhatsApp Business API as a leading marketing tool, WhatsApp enforced several regulations for using the WhatsApp Business API, including a fee for certain features. Why so? The answer is in this article!

WhatsApp Business API arrives in a form far more perfect and advanced than its WhatsApp Business counterpart. WhatsApp Business API offers advanced services and features for its users, targeted at middle to upper-class businesses or those at the enterprise level. Businesses at medium to upper scales tend to have a larger number of consumers which may also mean that they have more than one customer service agents. Another reason why the WhatsApp Business API is only intended for large-scale businesses is because the API is not an application so customers must access raw data through an API (Application Programming Interface) which requires a technology expert.

With a variety of more complex features and services, WhatsApp Business API a paid model service. The advantages of WhatsApp Business API include being able to be accessed from tens to hundreds of devices at once, getting green ticks to increase brand presence in the eyes of consumers, and being integrated with various systems that will make it easier for customers to transact with businesses.

Why does the WhatsApp Business API come with a paid model?

Before launching the WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Business which was aimed at Small Medium Enterprise (SME) Business for free. However, to be able to continue to innovate and contribute to meeting the needs of businesses, WhatsApp, which was later taken over by Facebook, decided to monetize its services through the WhatsApp Business API in August 2018.

WhatsApp Business API is designed to further assist businesses in improving their customer service. This is evident from the feature which requires agents to respond to messages within 24 hours. Facebook limits message sending and will charge a fee for messages sent in template forms. This then encourages businesses to prioritize customer service.

Apart from making businesses more focused on consumer service, WhatsApp also encourages and ensures every consumer continues to contact businesses via WhatsApp because of its guarantee for a faster reply when compared to using other platforms. In general, Facebook will only charge for outbound template messages (cost per message). Other costs, such as setup costs and monthly fees, are costs borne by the WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP).

Cost-per-Messages on WhatsApp Business API

Cost-per-message is the only fee that Facebook will charge. The cost-per-message will only be charged for each outbound template message. Outbound template messages are business-initiated messages to customers. More details about outbound messages can be found in this article.

Why did Facebook decide to charge for outbound messages in the WhatsApp Business API? It turns out that this is due to several reasons. Firstly, Facebook desires that WhatsApp Business API remains a spam-free service even better than its predecessors. Facebook prevents businesses from spamming in any form, including sending out broadcast messages containing offers and promotions. Facebook definitely understands that consumers do not benefit from any forms of spamming.

Secondly, Facebook has designed the WhatsApp Business API as the most appropriate solution to improve customer service. The existence of this fee is used as an encouragement so that businesses are always responsive and respond to messages within 24 hours (customer service window). And thirdly, WhatsApp Business API also encourages businesses to create communication strategies that are interactive and not monotonous. Overall the WhatsApp Business API is indeed a useful solution to improve customer experience through optimal services that are more professional and less one-way.

Even so, Facebook still provides flexibility for agents to reply messages without being charged and that is when the agent replies to a message while the customer service window is still existing. You need to remember that cost-per-message only applies to each message initiated by the business, such as template messages. Template messages are a series of messages that have previously been approved by WhatsApp.

Do note, though, that the cost of each message will vary from country to country and is based on the monthly volume of outbound messages. The amount of this fee is also determined by Facebook and does not include the fees set and charged by the WhatsApp BSP. For example, for the first 250,000 messages in Indonesia, a fee of Rp. 339,371 for each outbound message and Rp. 285,666 for messages which exceed 25 million. To see details of other cost-per-message, you can read the following link.

The Urgency of WhatsApp Business API for Your Business Needs

The benefits of WhatsApp Business API can be felt even more when your business is already at the enterprise level or has hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of consumers and a large number of customer service agents. WhatsApp Business API is designed to serve as a significant channel for more advanced business needs.

WhatsApp Business API is supported with various kinds of integrations which can then transform it into a marketing channel that can compete with email marketing. Since it was first released until now, WhatsApp has garnered more than 2 billion active users. It is also supported by research carried out by We Are Social and Hootsuite in 2019 and it was found that as many as 83% of Internet users in Indonesia also utilize WhatsApp. In addition, WhatsApp is also the top messenger app in 128 countries. By WhatsApp dominating other instant messaging applications, this is one of the reasons why WhatsApp Business API can be the best marketing channel. Consumers will naturally prefer to contact businesses via WhatsApp since it has become the main chat application for exchanging messages in real-time across many countries. According to research conducted by CNet, every day, more than 65 billion messages are sent via WhatsApp. There is also a study which found that users open the WhatsApp application more than 23 times a day. If you don’t want to be left behind, you might be happy to know that over 3 million companies are already using WhatsApp for their business needs.

The enactment of a customer service window and fee rules on outbound messages allows businesses to improve their customer service efficiency, including time management and agent response rates. It does not stop there; WhatsApp Business API also assists businesses to compile the right consumer database for their business marketing needs. This is because on WhatsApp Business API, businesses can only contact consumers who send them messages first. This policy takes the WhatsApp Business API one step further from email marketing, which can be sent to almost anyone even if they are not considered a potential customer.

Uniquely, WhatsApp Business API supports businesses in managing conversational flows, such as placing orders and offering product catalogs, supports various kinds of integrations such as appointment management, shipping management, and integration in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). With it, businesses can provide consumers with more optimal services since they can make transactions easily and quickly via WhatsApp. Because the WhatsApp Business API is used as a flexible and complex service, there are many other systems that can be embedded in it such as chatbots. Using chatbots can help improve the quality of customer service and customer experience because businesses can respond quickly to more common and frequently-asked queries. WhatsApp Business API is also able to automatically divert complex messages to agents from chatbots to ensure efficiency and accuracy of response. In addition, WhatsApp Business API can also send automatic notifications such as One-Time Passwords (OTPs), order confirmations, and shipping updates.

Another feature that is no less important is its analytics feature. With this feature, businesses can view the analytics of each customer service agent at any time so that they can be used as reference point for areas of improvement. The results of these analytics can also greatly help businesses improve customer service and customer experience.

With the various features and services offered, as well as the opportunity for WhatsApp Business API as a competitive marketing channel, companies can invest more intelligently in WhatsApp Business API instead of having to spend money on many other channels with lower opportunity levels. In addition, WhatsApp Business API will continue to be developed by Facebook to provide more optimal services and features so you don’t have to worry if investment will end without any additional enhancements and benefits for your business.

Does the WhatsApp Business API have limitations?

Just like other products and services, there are several limitations WhatsApp Business API has that may impact its users:

  1. WhatsApp Business API cannot be obtained without involving a third party (also known as WhatsApp BSP) and also the absence of a front-end interface that prevents you from using the WhatsApp application directly. A WhatsApp BSP will need to help businesses set up the API.
  2. Numbers used for WhatsApp Business API cannot be downgraded back to the regular WhatsApp app or regular WhatsApp Business. This means you will need to continue using WhatsApp Business API to communicate with customers.
  3. There are messaging limits present when using WhatsApp Business API. Messaging limits determine how many users (including new conversations and existing conversations) a business account can send messages to each day. Messaging limits don’t limit the number of messages that can be sent but only the number of users which messages can be sent to. Even messaging limits do not apply to messages sent within the customer service window. However, the number of messaging limits can be adjusted according to your business needs so there is a high probability that your business may have a limit of up to 1000 a day but may later change to 10,000 to 100,000 as the business grows. For more details on messaging limits, you can click on the following link.
  4. Business accounts cannot send template messages containing offers or promotions about services and products. Facebook has specified rules about what types of messages can be used as message templates so businesses are unable to create message templates without the approval from WhatsApp.
  5. Relating to the previous point, business accounts cannot contact consumers first except by sending a message template that has been approved by WhatsApp. For this message type, the business account will be charged a cost-per-message of around Rp. 420.00 for each message sent
  6. If the agent replies to customers outside the customer service window, the agent requires permission from the customer by first sending a message in the form of a template message.
  7. Till now, WhatsApp Business API has not provided services such as stories, video updates or voice calls like those in WhatsApp personal and WhatsApp Business applications.

WhatsApp BSPs’ Involvement in your Business

WhatsApp collaborates with third parties known as WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSPs), which are third parties or providers which will help users to install the WhatsApp Business API on their existing systems. All of the aforementioned fees, such as the monthly fee, setup costs, and cost-per-message stipulated by Facebook, will also be charged to the provider.

With WhatsApp BSP,s you don’t need to worry about how to install and integrate some of the required systems as they are to do these for you, including monitoring, maintaining, and also updating everything related to the API.

Overall, WhatsApp BSP will have an important role in the need to access WhatsApp Business API and other forms of support so choose a WhatsApp BSP which has good and reliable support and who is also easy to contact in times of emergencies.

Tips to getting the WhatsApp Business API:

  1. Own and verify your business account on Facebook Business Manager
  2. Determine the WhatsApp BSP that best suits your needs. Qiscus is one of an official WhatsApp Business API provider. To meet your business needs, Qiscus provides flexibility for you to customize your system in order to provide better and directed customer service. Unlike other providers, Qiscus will not charge setup fees so customers will only be charged a subscription fee and a monthly fee. By using Qiscus Multichannel Chat, you can always monitor the performance of every agent with the Supervisor and Admin roles on the dashboard. Find out more about Qiscus Multichannel Chat here.
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