Five ways retailers can use the WhatsApp Business API to improve CX

How retailers can use the WhatsApp Business API to improve the shopping experience and enrich customer communications.

Sam Watson

With more than 1.5 billion users worldwide, WhatsApp has become one of the most influential digital communication channels on the planet. The average user checks the messaging app more than 23 times per day.

Until recently, the channel remained out of reach to customer-centric enterprises. But, with the success of the WhatsApp Business app for small businesses, WhatsApp has released an API that can be used for retail enterprise communications. Now, there’s an arms race to use the channel that’s closest to consumers to enrich customer communications and notifications to improve the customer experience (CX).

How to use WhatsApp Business

The WhatsApp Business API can be integrated into your customer communications platform to automate the delivery of messages and notifications through the channel. WhatsApp Business can be used to create personalised, two-way conversational interactions that differentiate your brand experience.

As a retailer, here are 5 ways you should be using the WhatsApp Business API to improve digital CX:

Create a virtual assistant for customer service

76% of consumers now prefer to find a fast and convenient self-service solution to resolve an issue they may have while shopping. You can tap into this preference by deploying a branded virtual assistant over WhatsApp to act as the first point of contact for both new and existing customers.

The assistant can greet customers, answer FAQs and drive awareness of the different self-service customer journeys that are available through the channel – from account recovery to store stock checks. When all self-service options have been exhausted, or the enquiry is identified as high priority, a contact centre agent can be connected into the chat to take over the conversation.

It’s predicted that 25% of customer support operations will use virtual customer assistants by 2020, a significant leap from the 2% using them in 2017. Forward-thinking retailers can take advantage of this significant customer service differentiator, helping customers to find answers easier and deflect calls away from the contact centre to a messaging-based self-serve channel.

Despite the reported decline in high street footfall and closure of many leading outlets, many consumers still value the role a shopping assistant plays in the buying decision.

While WhatsApp can’t conjure a human assistant to help the shopper in-person, it can deliver the next best thing. By deploying an automated personal shopping assistant, you can drive the kind of powerful, one-to-one customer engagements we’ve come to love about the high-street experience.

You can empower the assistant to respond to customer enquiries, showcasing and recommending the most relevant products using images and videos based on what the customer has asked for, previous searches and purchase history. Once the customer has found the product they want, the assistant can then help close the transaction by prompting a SmartLink the leads to a payment screen.

83% of consumers open to learning about product or service through messaging and WhatsApp could act as a channel for enabling inbound purchasing.

Recommend and showcase the latest products

Despite the reported decline in high street footfall, many consumers still value the role a sales assistant - having someone on hand to find products, offer recommendations and advise.

With 83% of consumers open to learning about a product or service through messaging, WhatsApp can be used for automating the same one-to-one interactions we love about the high-street over a digital channel.

New and existing customers could get in touch over WhatsApp and submit information about what they are looking for. You can then set up automated responses that showcase relevant products and services using images and videos, as well as recommending other items based on previous searches and purchase history. Once the customer has found the product they want, the transaction can then be closed by using a SmartLink that seamlessly leads to a payment screen.

Not only will such a WhatsApp Business solution help to increase revenue, but also help demonstrate how much you know about each customer.

Help customers track and engage with loyalty programs

Customer loyalty programs are a staple of the retail experience and are a fundamental part of managing customer relationships. Responding to changing consumer behaviour, many loyalty cards have been replaced by digital alternatives that allow customers to track points and redeem rewards through a brand’s app.

Despite the change in how loyalty and reward programs are delivered, the challenge of encouraging customers to engage with the program hasn’t diminished. This is due to the app-led approach having a number of barriers, such as a lack of roaming data, phone storage or even just having a desire to sign-in into the app store to download. Worse yet, once the app has been installed, it likely competes for space with all the other apps on the smartphone.

WhatsApp Business can be used to make a loyalty program more accessible and help to drive engagement with the program. Customers could use WhatsApp to track and manage their loyalty points on-the-go, while enabling customers to easily engage with personalised offers, search through their rewards and respond to targeted notifications.

Unite the digital and in-store experience

Did you know that despite 73% of consumers using multiple channels throughout the shopping journey, 62% still prefer an in-store customer experience?

The future of retail isn’t physical, or digital, it’s a hybrid of both. The likes of Amazon with its checkout-free ‘Amazon Go’ retail spaces recognise this, enabling consumers to shop in a physical space without forgoing the speed and convenience of ecommerce.

With WhatsApp Business, you can link the digital and in-store experience. Customers could use WhatsApp to book personal shopping time with a sales assistant (an idea Bonobos ran with, and succeeded) or organise collection times, too much simpler use cases such as letting customers enquire about opening times.

On the other side of the screen, in-store staff could be equipped with WhatsApp channel to use as a knowledge base. They could look up customer accounts, purchase histories, recommended products, and much more. This will help to provide a more personalised one-to-one experience and increase the value of visiting a physical store.

Manage the end-to-end delivery and returns process

With WhatsApp Business, you can orchestrate the delivery of real-time, personalised notifications that keep your customers updated from the moment they confirm their order to the moment it arrives on their desk or doorstep.

The channel can also handle real-time responses to your updates, allowing customers to flag issues or change their delivery options with near immediate effect. They could also use the conversation to get real-time courier tracking, organise a ‘safe place’ drop off point, or even delay their order until they know they’ll be present to receive it in person.

On the courier side, WhatsApp can be used to submit digital signatures and send photos of where a delivery has been stored for the customer peace of mind. It can also simplify the returns process by enabling the seamless exchange of return forms, photo evidence of the item’s condition, and the scheduling of a courier collection.

No call centre arguments or post office queues – just a streamlined delivery experience that maximises operational efficiency, costs and customer satisfaction.

Start using the WhatsApp Business API to transform your digital customer experience

WhatsApp for Business is a major opportunity for retailers to meet the changing expectations of today’s smart, connected consumer.

Enabling seamless, personalised one-to-one service is key, and if you can make it happen on the messaging channels favoured by your customers, you’ll reap the rewards that come with stronger customer relationships and a better retail experience.

Book an introductory call with the imimobile team to arrange a channel demo and understand how your business can integrate WhatsApp Business into your customer communications strategy.