7 steps to great customer service via WhatsApp
WhatsApp has become indispensable in our day-to-day communication. We text through WhatsApp with friends and family - and increasingly with businesses like retailers, airlines and energy suppliers. Chances are that your customers would enjoy reaching out to your service team using WhatsApp.
For companies, that’s easier said than done. Simply adding an extra service channel can have a big impact on an organisation. How do you get your whole team on board? What are the risks if you don't use WhatsApp correctly? And, first things first, is WhatsApp an appropriate channel within your customer service? I would be happy to help you with a targeted strategy, so that you too can successfully use WhatsApp as a new service channel.
The first phase: organising
The seven steps can be broken down into three clear phases: organising, implementing and evaluating. Before you take the first step towards WhatsApp for your customer service, it is very important to define your goals. Because why do you actually want to offer customer service via WhatsApp Business? Is it faster service, happier customers, a distinctive position in the market, or simply more sales that you’re after? Keep reminding yourself what is needed to achieve these goals. And make sure your internal stakeholders all agree, so everyone is on the same page even before you start using WhatsApp.
Step 1: Assemble the team
Once the decision has been made and the goals have been set, it’s time to assemble a team. Depending on your company size, I recommend setting up a separate WhatsApp customer service team to determine who will be responsible for the WhatsApp Business channel. The size of this team depends not only on the company size, but also on the number of customer queries you expect to receive.
Also, involve the team members in reaching your goals - for instance through a brainstorming session, or a demo in which you also illustrate what WhatsApp can mean for your organisation. This way, everyone will feel included and responsible.
Step 2: Determine the tone of voice
We’re used to texting friends and family in an informal way - including emojis and gifs. Your customers may expect you to treat them just as loosely. But remember that the tone of voice should remain in line with your unique company culture. Do what suits you and certainly don't pretend to be 'hipper' than you are.
You obviously won't write your messages in the same way as a business email, but keep it professional. To make sure the whole team communicates likewise, you may want to create a style guide that includes all your customer service channels, so the customer gets the best experience through each channel.
The second stage: implementing
Step 3: Purchase a WhatsApp number
Once the preparation is done and the team can’t wait to welcome the flood of customer queries coming in through WhatsApp, there’s still one thing missing: the WhatsApp Business number itself.
Here's what to keep in mind when purchasing such a number:
A number that you will be using for your customer service is no longer suitable to use as a private number. So it is important that you purchase a number that is for business use only.
If you prefer a virtual number, you can apply for a VoIP or eSim.
Do you have international customers? Then you might consider getting several local numbers.
Careful: if you buy a prepaid SIM card that will only allow you to send messages through WhatsApp Web or through a customer service software with WhatsApp support, the provider may deactivate the SIM card after six months without activity. Therefore, put a reminder in your diary: call the number every 5 months so that it remains activated.
Apart from texting, it is also possible to make calls to your customers using the WhatsApp Business App or via WhatsApp Web. Do you want to use WhatsApp just for texting? Then you can mitigate this with a voicemail, or by a forwarding the call to a support number that you do use for calling. A voicemail is set up through the number's provider. This works just like your private number. For forwarding, go to the settings of the phone where the number is activated.
Don't forget to personalise your WhatsApp Business business profile. Complete it with useful information for your customers, such as company information, logo, opening hours, and an automatic out of office message.
Step 4: Manage your messages
You are now ready to start texting via WhatsApp. There are three ways to do this: with a smartphone, through WhatsApp Web, or using specialised software with WhatsApp support.
If you want to continue texting and calling customers on your smartphone, you can use the WhatsApp Business app for this. You just add this app to your phone alongside your 'normal' WhatsApp app. This is where you link your corporate customer service number to, and you use this app on your smartphone to manage all incoming customer messages. The downside, however, is that you can only add this number on a single phone. This means that the team responsible for customer service via WhatsApp must work together using the same smartphone. This is, therefore, not the most convenient option if your customer service team consists of more than two people.
You can also link your corporate WhatsApp number to WhatsApp Web, or to the WhatsApp desktop app that you can download through your browser. Beware: the number can only be used on four browsers/computers at the same time. So if your team consists of five employees, and all of them log in simultaneously, one team member will be automatically logged out.
Are you looking for specific features that are important for your customer service department, such as reporting, centralised data or collaborating with large teams? Then a specialised software is the best solution. When comparing software providers, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the software offer help and support when connecting to the WhatsApp Business API?
- Does the software support sending photos and videos via WhatsApp?
- Does the software support sending photos and videos via WhatsApp?
- Does the software offer automation and message templates for WhatsApp?
At Grasp, we have a lot of experience with WhatsApp as a customer service channel. With a personal support assistant and a well-organised team inbox, you'll have WhatsApp Business connected in no time.
Step 5: Spread the word!
The goal is clear, your team is ready, the number is linked, in short: you are ready to go! High time to share the good news with your customers and (online) visitors. Let them know that they can now reach you through WhatsApp if they have any questions or for other support. Offer the new contact option on your website’s contact page, and don’t forget to mention the news in your email signature, newsletter, and socials.
If you get a lot of online traffic, you may not want to place the button smack in the middle of your homepage right away. At first, place the button only on the contact page, limiting the influx of queries a little. This way, the team can slowly get used to the new channel, and customers will get the attention they deserve.
The third phase: evaluating
Step 6: Managing expectations
Make it clear for your customers and visitors what they can reach you for through WhatsApp - and when. Through information on your website and automated out of office messages, you can point out what they can expect.
It’s equally important to keep track of the responses received via WhatsApp. Are customers happy with the customer service they receive through WhatsApp? Can you make any possible improvements? Is the response time low enough, or does the team perhaps need to be expanded? Are the goals that you previously set being met? By analysing and evaluating these data and responses, you can take your WhatsApp customer service to an even higher level.
Step 7: Integrate with your other channels
Besides WhatsApp, you probably use other customer service channels. To keep all incoming customer queries centralised, it might be interesting to look into customer service software that gathers all of your channels (email, Facebook, Instagram, chat) and data.
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