When WhatsApp launched its Business app for small businesses last year, it was clear that a proper solution for larger enterprises was right around the corner. Unveiling their full Business API this week, the world’s most popular messaging app now opened the doors for large enterprises to automate their communications with customers via WhatsApp. All of the benefits we see in talent acquisition through Chatbots, we can now launch together on WhatsApp, which is a massive opportunity!
The benefits over using SMS are obvious:
Businesses can have a photo, name, website and even email address displayed on their profile, which is a lot more trustworthy than a text message from an unknown number. In addition, every message is end-to-end encrypted, ensuring the user’s privacy. Looking at WhatsApp's user demographics, it's the messenger of choice for most people. Especially younger people prefer WhatsApp over other messaging tools, making it especially interesting for graduate recruitment.
Essentially, the API client is a full headless version of the WhatsApp mobile app, including settings and group functionalities, and will enable users to customize it to their needs.
Messages sent within a 24-hour period are free, while there will be a fixed rate between $0.05 and $0.9 for some messages sent after that - depending on the country. This is WhatsApp’s first step to monetizing the largely popular messaging app after it had removed the $1 yearly fee for every user in 2016. Charging businesses for late replies is a smart move. As TechCrunch puts it, this growth feedback loop, where the fee encourages fast replies, will lead to higher user retention while also generating some revenue for WhatsApp - especially on weekends or holidays.
WhatsApp presents three main use cases for the API on their website:
1) Information: When opted-in, customers will be able to receive informational material or tickets in the form of a WhatsApp message, media file or an attachment.
2) Conversation: Click-to-chat buttons or ads on Facebook will enable users to instantly start a conversation with a business. This way, companies utilizing Instagram for recruitment can easily create an ad that sends potential candidates to their FAQ chatbot on WhatsApp, where they can get answers to their questions in a very frictionless and fast way.
3) Support: Several integrations (i.e. with Zendesk) already make it very easy for businesses to provide fast and direct customer support via WhatsApp. We expect more integrations with popular platforms in the future - with ATS systems being one of the most interesting ones for us.
Privacy is crucial
WhatsApp has always been an ad-free service, and the plan is to keep it this way - at least in the messages section. The company clearly states that the newly launched API is not meant to be used for marketing, but rather for customer support and information. Users will still have full control over the messages they receive and can block businesses from contacting them in one click. WhatsApp really emphasizes privacy with the release of their API, which is no surprise after rising privacy concerns against Facebook this year.
While the launch of the Business API is a big step for WhatsApp, it’s still fairly limited. Businesses need to apply in order for them to get access, applicants are approved by hand. WhatsApp also doesn’t support a few features that are crucial parts of chatbots yet - for instance suggestions or carousels. While a question-and-answer (FAQ) bot is possible to build, we’ll need to keep our eyes open for updates from WhatsApp’s side to support more advanced use-cases like chatbots in the Recruitment or Human Resources context on the platform.
If you want to learn more about chatbots on WhatsApp, get in touch with me!