WhatsApp, the social messaging service acquired by Facebook for $19bn in 2014, is arguably the world’s fastest-growing communication app. As on January 2015, half a billion people around the world were regular, active WhatsApp users. These users are sharing more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos every single day.
In India, its more popular than Facebook and even our maids are on WhatsApp now. It has already replaced SMS and fast becoming our primary mode of communication.
The question small business owners are now asking is: How can I use WhatsApp for business?
Lets look at the 5 creative ways to implement WhatsApp in your business..
1) Using WhatsApp For Internal Team Communication
Whenever we tried to implement any new tool for internal communication at Globaltech, we got resistance from the employees. People are reluctant to ‘learn’ new things. Best thing about WhatsApp is that almost everyone uses it and it does not require any training. Another advantage is, I don’t need to explicitly ask the team to check WhatsApp as they are anyway hooked to it.
We have formed groups of Sales & Development team on WhatsApp and share instant messages for which an email is not necessary. Its fast and fun to use.
With WhatsApp Web, it becomes even more easier to type messages using a web browser.
2) Using WhatsApp For Customer Communication
Here is a sales tip – If you do your followups on WhatsApp instead of direct phone calls, you will get 40% more response. No one appreciates phone calls from unknown numbers but we are more likely to respond to personal messages. When we start using WhatsApp for customer communication, we noticed better response and engagement.
This also gives an opportunity to be little informal. For example, you have sent a quotation to your potential customer but haven’t heard from him, what do you do? You either call him or send a followup mail using formal language. Instead of doing this, if you just send a short message on WhatsApp asking about the status, you might get a quick response.
I’ve started seeing more and more small businesses using WhatsApp to announce new offers or send festival wishes to their customers. At Globaltech, we use WhatsApp’s calling feature to talk with our international customers.
3) Using WhatsApp For Customer Support
WhatsApp could be a great tool for customer support simple because of its wider reach. Your customers would always prefer to send you a message over WhatsApp rather than calling a helpdesk number or raising a ticket.
Jumia, a website development platform uses WhatsApp for the customer support. Arush Chopra from JustHerbs has been offering skin and product consultations on whatsapp. There are even new business like Wazapper that provide tools & API to setup customer support system using WhatsApp.
However, offering customer support via WhatsApp may not be a good option for all types of businesses. Kritika from cloud telephony company, MyOperator warns that responding to every message on WhatsApp may not be practical for companies that get hundreds of customer calls everyday.
So, choose WhatsApp as a customer support tool only if you have lesser number of customer requests.
4) Using WhatsApp For Marketing & Promotion
A marketing head, Metro FM, says, “WhatsApp is the new SMS. We’ve realised that WhatsApp can be a very strong marketing tool. It is a good one-to-one platform for direct communication with our listeners”.
You can use WhatsApp to send images, audio files, short video clips of your products and text messages to users across the world. Unlike SMS or Email, there are less restriction on the format and delivery chances are higher.
This doesn’t mean that you should spam your customers with WhatsApp messages. Ideally you should use WhatsApp to connect with existing loyal customers rather than trying to reach new users. Everyone hates messages coming from unknown numbers.
If you really want to get a good response, you will need to come up with the creative ways to promote your business using WhatsApp. For example, Colgate invited people to send selfies of their smile via WhatsApp, to a phone number displayed on the toothpaste pack. Motivation: a chance to be styled by brand ambassador Sonam Kapoor’s stylist!
5) Creative Usage Of WhatsApp For Business
People have built new businesses using WhatsApp as a platform and some are using it to grow their business in a cost effective manner. Lets look at some creative usage of WhatsApp that might give you few ideas for the next project..
This Mumbai-based errand-running service Russsh, uses WhatsApp as a booking platform. You can book a cake, flower delivery or courier service using WhatsApp.
Food Ordering Using WhatsApp
Lot of local restaurants are now offering their users an option to order food using a WhatsApp message. Customers can communicate their preference instantly.
Akin is the author of the book "THE INTERNET: a town square for the global village.
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