WhatsApp Business: what it is, how it works and how to make the most of it to grow your business

WhatsApp Business is the app developed by Meta Inc. to facilitate communication activities for SMEs and simplify their interactions with customers thanks to a series of tools that allow you to drive better customer support, automate and quickly reply to messages and show the catalog of products and services within the app.

Nowadays, the success of a company also passes through the efficiency of its customer service: it is essential to have a customer service capable of answering buyers’ questions quickly, supporting customers by providing them with all the information they need, and solving any issues timely.

Just a few years ago, the customer service provided by most companies was light years away from what it is today. Companies usually had few tools for this task: it was enough to provide a phone number or a generic email address. However, social networks and sophisticated artificial intelligence systems, such as chatbots, have completely changed the brand-customer relationship. Today, the latter expects to be able to get in touch with companies using different touchpoints and get answers quickly, even better if in real time.

Among most used tools by brands to respond to new consumer needs there’s WhatsApp Business, the version of the most used instant messaging platform in the world specifically developed for small business owners.

In this article, we dive into what WhatsApp Business is, how it works and what features it offers to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

What is WhatsApp Business?

We all know the features of WhatsApp Messenger, the instant messaging platform owned by Meta Inc. that allows you to send text and voice messages, images, videos and other multimedia content for free (by using your Internet connection). WhatsApp Business is a version of WhatsApp Messenger designed with the aim of supporting the communication and customer assistance activities of those who have a small or medium-sized business.

Launched in 2018, WhatsApp Business includes all the features of WhatsApp Messenger as well as other specific tools to support enterprises.

WhatsApp Business is particularly suitable not only for SMEs but also for freelancers and anyone else who needs to manage a relatively small flow of messages and interactions. For large companies, Meta offers WhatsApp API, which unlike WhatsApp Business version is not an application, but a platform that must be integrated into a messaging or CRM software.

What are the main features of WhatsApp Business?

In addition to having the same features as WhatsApp Messenger, the Business version boasts a series of additional features that can be selected and customized based on the type of business you run.

Create your company profile

One of the main features of WhatsApp Business concerns the possibility of creating your own company profile by entering the general information of your brand, as well as other contact information useful for users, such as:

  • Company name
  • Company description
  • Shop address (it will be also displayed on Google Maps)
  • Shop opening hours
  • Website
  • Email address
  • Social media
  • Short introduction or welcome message
  • Catalog of products and services

All this information can be quickly entered when creating an account. The data can also be changed later, with the exception of the name of the company.

Set up automatic replies

Predefined messages allow you to reply to messages and FAQ automatically, speeding up response times. There are different types of messages that can be set:

  • Greeting message: it is sent as an automatic response when the user contacts your company for the first time. This message has the function of virtually greeting and welcoming customers.
  • Away message: it is sent when a user contacts you outside the opening hours of your shop and has the function of informing the user about the business opening hours.  
  • Quick replies to FAQs: to activate this type of message, just configure some quick replies to be linked to one or more keywords that will be used to start the conversation. If the user types one of the keywords chosen by you, the answer to his question will be activated automatically. Using this feature, you can drastically reduce response times and save a significant amount of time.

Manage chats faster

WhatsApp Business allows you to organize and manage your chats by creating labels with different colours and names to differentiate the chats of new customers, regular customers, those who have placed an order or whose order is still pending. Labels will help you track your customers’ shopping habits and find chats and messages more easily.

Show the product catalog

WhatsApp Business offers you a space in which to show users your catalog of products and/or services. It is a kind of showcase in which to present the products for sale, complete with a description, photo and price. In this section, the user can search for products or services to purchase by contacting the company via WhatsApp or by being directed externally to the company’s e-commerce site.

Does WhatsApp Business have limits?

Apart from the auto reply messages described above, WhatsApp Business does not allow brands to send promotional messages and take advantage of marketing automation in any way. This means that reminder messages, sales, discount codes or promotions for holidays and anniversaries (for example, birthday coupons) cannot be sent.

Sending massive messages is also strongly discouraged: instead of sending the same message one to one to several people, it is advisable to create a broadcast list (each of which can contain up to 256 contacts). It is very important to follow the WhatsApp Business guidelines as the risk of having your account blocked is high.

Marketing automation tools can only be implemented through the WhatsApp API, whose high costs mean that they are mainly used by large brands.

Summing up

WhatsApp Business is a tool that helps small and medium-sized business owners make a difference in an increasingly customer-centric market, i.e. primarily focused on user satisfaction. Consequently, having a customer care service capable of clarifying any doubts and supporting the buyer in the pre- and post-sales process is essential in order to be able to retain the customer and guarantee an excellent shopping experience.

Do you already use WhatsApp Business to manage interactions with your customers? Did you know all its features? Do you think it can help you make a difference?

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Since I was a child, my school career has been driven by a passion for what I wanted to do when I was grown up. So I graduated in modern languages and cultures at the University of Pavia and now I'm studying journalism and communication at the University of Bergamo. Today I do what I like most: I work in the technical publishing industry dedicating myself in particular to social media and digital marketing at Eos Mktg&Communication, the publishing house of the international ipcm® magazines. If I had to describe myself in three words according to my hobbies and interests, I would say: globetrotter, shopaholic and motorsport-addicted.

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