Many people find WhatsApp to be a useful way of communicating within their business, but substantially fewer offer it openly to customers as a means of interaction. That could be a mistake. People like it, and research shows they like businesses that offer it.
WhatsApp (and other data-based services like Telegram and Signal) are better than SMS (‘text’) messaging because they’re free to use: many people are charged for sending images via SMS, and most have limits on the number of messages they can send. They also allow the sender to see if the recipient has opened the message; they offer a biography and a profile picture; and it’s even possible to see when the correspondent was last active. All of these are useful in business.
WhatsApp can be offered as a friendlier and more convenient alternative to ‘Live Chat’ on a website, which can be awkward in some situations. It also enables notifications to be sent to customers where appropriate. While the customer may connect using a mobile device, at the business end WhatsApp can be just another desktop app.
Whether it’s a channel we should get involved with requires asking the ‘why’ question. If, for example, we’ve already decided to implement Live Chat on our website, a need for interactive text chat has already been established, and offering WhatsApp as an alternative should be considered seriously.
Once a link has been established with a customer or prospect and they’re happy with it, moving on to getting permission to (gently) market to them through helpful WhatsApp messaging then becomes another opportunity.