The WhatsApp Business API Is Giving Brands a New Customer Service Route

Earlier this summer, Facebook introduced a new WhatsApp Business API in an effort to enable businesses to communicate with consumers using the Facebook-owned messaging app. Now, companies including Uber, Netflix, and about 100 others are leveraging the API to deliver customer service via the app.

“We’re introducing the WhatsApp Business API to help businesses manage communications with existing and potential customers at scale. With the WhatsApp Business API, you can send messages to people who initiate a chat with your business or who request that you send them information via WhatsApp,” Facebook said in a company statement.

When consumers proactively contact brands with service requests or questions, brands have 24 hours to respond to them via WhatsApp free of charge. Once those 24 hours are up, however, brands will be charged for the messages they send. WhatsApp will also charge brands for some complex messages, such as booking information.

“WhatsApp will charge businesses to send messages such as a boarding pass or delivery confirmation. When a customer reaches out to a business with a question such as how do they book their travel or when their order will be delivered, the business will be able to respond for free within 24 hours. If/when the customer responds, that restarts a 24-hour cycle. WhatsApp will charge for messages sent by the business outside of the 24-hour window,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told MarketingLand.

Though the API is still only available in a limited preview, airlines, e-commerce companies, banks, and others are actively using it to engage in different types of conversations with their users. Uber, for example, is encouraging its drivers to message the company using WhatsApp when they have questions or need support. Netflix, meanwhile, is taking a more proactive approach to providing support and using WhatsApp to send account updates to customers.

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