Tips and things worth knowing about the WhatsApp Business Account
More than 80 percent of smartphone users in Germany have WhatsApp installed, and according to Statista it is even 94 percent among 18 to 25 year olds. However, the world‘s most popular messenger is not only suitable for private communication. With WhatsApp Business, the parent company Meta (formerly Facebook) has been offering companies the opportunity to set up a WhatsApp account and use it for corporate communication since 2018. You can read in the article whether WhatsApp Business incurs costs, what the differences are to WhatsApp for private customers and how a WhatsApp Business account is set up. We have also looked at what companies should consider when using WhatsApp Business in terms of data protection.
WhatsApp Business: costs and requirements
Companies can generally use WhatsApp Business free of charge. A cell phone number and a smartphone on which WhatsApp Business can be installed is required for use. You can find the app for WhatsApp Business in the app store for Android or iPhone.
However, you should note the following: The mobile number to which you link WhatsApp Business should be able to be used and published for business purposes. If you already have the standard WhatsApp app on your smartphone, you can install WhatsApp Business at the same time. In order not to mix up private and professional communication, however, you should use a second mobile number for your corporate communication with WhatsApp Business. If you use WhatsApp for both professional communication and private purposes, data protection issues may arise (more on this later in the article).
WhatsApp for Business: Benefits of the WhatsApp Business Account
WhatsApp Business works similar to regular WhatsApp: you can use it to chat directly with customers, either in the app on your smartphone or in the desktop version. The latter is useful to keep a better overview. WhatsApp Business is particularly suitable for sole proprietorships and small and medium-sized companies that want to expand their customer service. The advantages of WhatsApp Business for companies are manifold:
- WhatsApp is widespread and many private customers are familiar with its use.
- WhatsApp Business enables direct communication with customers – both synchronously and asynchronously – and facilitates customer advice.
- WhatsApp Business expands customer service to include conversational commerce: WhatsApp Business can be used, for example, to make appointments, book services or ask questions about products. This often has a positive effect on corporate sales.
- WhatsApp Business also offers the sending of automatic messages such as welcome messages or purchase confirmations.
WhatsApp Business: Set up an account
You can create and set up a WhatsApp Business account in just a few minutes:
- Link the app to your company’s mobile number and verify the phone number via SMS.
- Provide information about your company: enter the company name, select the category in which your company operates and, if necessary, upload a profile picture, for example the company logo.
- Familiarize yourself with the menu navigation and use of WhatsApp Business: As in WhatsApp, you will find the menu with status, calls, camera, chats and settings in the footer.
- Go to the company settings via Settings and complete the company profile: Add a description of your company, your business or opening hours and address and link to the company website and social media channels such as your Instagram, Facebook or YouTube Channel.
If you have set up WhatsApp Business, then also remember to advertise and make known to your customers the communication via WhatsApp: on your website, the marketing materials and the various social media channels.
WhatsApp Business Platform (API): costs and how it works
For medium-sized and large companies, parent company Meta offers an extended WhatsApp Business option: the WhatsApp Business platform via an API interface. Here, too, companies can control customer communication and offer a personalized exchange between companies and customers, but at the same time answer customer inquiries on a larger scale. This option is aimed at companies that work with support teams and a CRM or customer support software and want to link it to WhatsApp Business. Important to know: Conversations initiated by the user and answered by the company within 24 hours are free of charge on the WhatsApp Business platform. For business-initiated conversations, only the first 1,000 customer messages are free. Then there are costs. Setting up a WhatsApp business account via an API interface also requires professional IT support.
WhatsApp Business: What you need to know about data protection
As previously mentioned, WhatsApp is an offering from Meta, which also includes Facebook and Instagram. As a US company, Meta does not work in all details according to the strict data protection rules as stipulated for the EU in the GDPR. As a company, however, you have a fundamental obligation to check and ensure that your use of WhatsApp Business complies with applicable data protection regulations.
Data protection experts came to the conclusion that WhatsApp’s standard messenger is unsuitable for internal and external communication by companies from a data protection point of view. Incidentally, WhatsApp itself excludes non-private use in the terms and conditions.
WhatsApp Business is generally quite suitable as a channel for direct communication between companies and customers, especially since it is free for small and medium-sized companies in the standard version (not via an API). However, even with WhatsApp Business, companies must ensure compliance with all applicable data protection laws.