SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Warren   Levitan
Warren Levitan is cofounder and CEO of Smooch, the omnichannel conversation platform for enterprise software makers. Since 2015, Smooch has...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Warren Levitan | August 01, 2018 |

 
   

WhatsApp Intros Business API: What Enterprises Need to Know

WhatsApp Intros Business API: What Enterprises Need to Know Ad-free, encrypted end to end... this chat app provides a dream scenario for customer engagement.

Ad-free, encrypted end to end... this chat app provides a dream scenario for customer engagement.

With more than 1.5 billion monthly users, WhatsApp is the most popular consumer chat app on the planet. Once it opens its door to large enterprises, WhatsApp will instantly become the world's most powerful business messaging tool as well.

It's not difficult to understand why brands are clamoring to get on WhatsApp, which today officially launched an early access program for large businesses. Beyond its staggering numbers and global appeal, the Facebook-owned app is highly trusted by its users, who rely on the app to keep in touch with the people they care about. Unlike Facebook's other chat apps, Messenger and Instagram, WhatsApp is currently an ad-free environment. It's also encrypted end to end, meaning that messages can't be intercepted and read by any third parties, including Facebook.

This is a dream scenario for global brands eager to engage with customers over secure and private chat. But these great benefits come with a cost. As it turns out, the very same attributes that make the channel so valuable for users make it far more complex for businesses to adopt and maintain than any other messaging channel.

If you're an enterprise looking to jump on the WhatsApp bandwagon, here are some things you'll need to figure out before WhatsApp's API becomes available to your business.

Are you willing to host?
Earlier this year, WhatsApp introduced WhatsApp Business App, an Android application for small business owners. Now it's taking it a step further by rolling out an API for large businesses to access WhatsApp using the same tools they use to communicate with users on other channels -- their existing customer engagement software.

In order to maintain end-to-end encryption, however, WhatsApp is requiring businesses to host their own "headless" version of the Business App called the WhatsApp API client. Unlike the app that customers (and small businesses) have access to, there's no user interface. The API client lives in a sealed Docker container, complete with its own SQL databases and block storage that need to be managed and monitored 24/7, as well as an API that will require regular updates.

Managing this complex IT infrastructure can be a full-time job for businesses and a potential scalability nightmare for the customer engagement platforms they're relying on. Businesses will need to figure out how to host and maintain API clients themselves or seek help from an official WhatsApp Business Solution provider.

Ask your software vendors what their game plan is for hosting and managing WhatsApp API clients, and whether this is something they're prepared to scale.

From notifications to conversations
Beyond end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp is different from other business messaging channels in its commitment to trust and safety.

Unlike Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp is not planning to become another advertising platform. In order to keep the user's inbox free from spam, WhatsApp is introducing strict opt-in requirements and a host of rules and guidelines for businesses to adhere to when sending outbound messages to customers.

WhatsApp's intent is for businesses to use the API to send high-value notifications -- think boarding passes, shipping updates, receipts, and other transactional messages users have opted in to receive.

Unlike notifications sent through SMS, these paid messages will come from a verified business profile with full branding, similar to other emerging business messaging platforms like Apple Business Chat and Google-supported Rich Communication Services, or RCS.

Because they'll come from a business identity they know and trust, users will have a natural tendency to reply to these notifications. In the business messaging world, a notification is no longer just a notification -- it's an invitation to an ongoing conversation with customers.

Your WhatsApp Business checklist
When evaluating customer engagement platforms that can support WhatsApp notifications and replies, you'll need to consider a few operational challenges beyond hosting. The first is how your customer service software, and your support agents, will know which notification customers are responding to. Will agents have the context they need to reply quickly and gracefully? Or will they inevitably frustrate customers by having to start the conversation from scratch?

Next, agents will need a way to re-engage customers once conversations have gone dormant. To protect the user's inbox from unwanted messages, businesses will need to pay to send pre-approved, templated messages via the WhatsApp API after the reply window closes. Does your customer service software have the capability to support these WhatsApp proprietary message types?

Finally, don't let WhatsApp become yet another conversation silo. As I discussed in my last post on No Jitter, a true omnichannel customer experience feels like one continuous conversation with a business, no matter the communication channel. Make sure your customer engagement platform provides you with a unified view of the customer across all digital touchpoints, from the leading messaging apps, to Web chat to SMS and even email.

WhatsApp is finally getting ready to open the floodgates to businesses. Will your business be ready for WhatsApp?

Related content:





COMMENTS




August 29, 2018

Moving your voice services to the cloud introduces new challenges for 9-1-1 services. These include the need to serve multiple locations, and the increased mobility that comes with having a phone t

August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

June 20, 2018

Your enterprise may have adopted SIP Trunks, but are you up to date on how the latest technology is driving evolution in approaches?

In this webinar, youll learn how the new generation of SI

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.