Updated: August 3, 2018 11:47:19 am
Following up on its announcement last year, WhatsApp has started opening up its business API to help people and businesses communicate with each other. “Since we launched the WhatsApp Business app people have told us that it’s quicker and easier to chat with a business than making a call or sending an e-mail,” the messaging service reasoned in a blog post announcing the move.
WhatsApp said the API will help manage communications with existing and potential customers at scale. The API will let users initiate chats with business, while business will be able to send “non-promotional content” such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets.
WhatsApp will monetise these messages by charging a fixed rate for confirmed delivery. But responses to customers initiated messages will be free within the first 24 hours, after which these will also be charged. WhatsApp hopes users will use the services to request information like a shipping confirmation or boarding pass, start a conversation with a business and get real-time support to resolve an issue. Facebook posts from companies will eventually come with a click-to-chat button that will open up the WhatsApp. However, this is not being rolled out to India now.
— Express Technology (@expresstechie) August 1, 2018
WhatsApp clarified that with its approach, which is more consumer-driven, users will continue to have “full control over the messages you receive”. Since businesses will for sending certain messages, the platform hopes these will be selective and won’t clutter the user’s chats. Whatsapp said it will work directly with some companies as well as a select number of companies that specialise in managing customer communications.
WhatsApp Business is already used by over 3 million users globally. Uber, Bookings.com, and MakeMyTrip are among the companies expected to use the new service extensively. “We want to be there for our customers — wherever they are, whether they’re on or off the road,” said Manik Gupta, VP, Head of Product, calling WhatsApp a “familiar and reliable way” to connect with his company. MakeMyTrip’s group chief marketing officer Saujanya Shrivastava termed it a “great example of how technology creates customer-centric experiences”.
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