With 2 billion monthly users, WhatsApp is by far the most popular instant messaging (IM) app in the world.

And while its parent Facebook is focused on advertising, the social media megalodon is shifting its focus for monetizing the messaging app’s vast reach, to focus instead on enterprise customer service.

“Our focus has been on the business messaging products,” says Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s chief operating officer — those will include a pay-to-message option, enabling businesses to unlock a new channel of communication with customers, and in one of the most natural in everybody’s day-to-day lives.

Businesses that use the WhatsApp Business API to manage message threads with their customers already send users updates like receipts and confirmation reminders via the app, rather than email, for a few cents per message. But updates announced this week include free storage — which could entice a lot more big players in and more messaging activity, particularly as e-commerce continues to boom post-pandemic, and customer expectations for omnichannel comms continue to climb. As retailers face a fast-tracked changing landscape, fresh ways of engaging with customers are needed.

In India, where WhatsApp holds the biggest userbase, Facebook has invested in retail giant Jio Platforms, while many smaller retailers already use the app in place of a website to interact with customers and display products.

Some of these small companies have reported how WhatsApp Business has enabled a more tailored, personalized service. E-bike seller and conversion company Lightspeed Mobility said it had connected with more than 21,000 customers on WhatsApp Business and believes the platform sows trust.

“The best part is that we are available 24/7, and the customers love this fact. It helps us solve their concerns without any delay. It helps us gain the customer’s confidence, and interact with them as and when the customer wants,” said the firm.

As we enter into a retail shift, which will be defined by excellence in customer service, value-add experiences, and on-demand everything, TechHQ outlined some key benefits of embracing WhatsApp Business for customer engagement.

# 1 | Brand visibility

Brand connections are integral and the ease of creating ‘Business Profiles’ allows companies to build a fully-fledged and unique business identity for the messaging app.

A WhatsApp Business profile not only allows organizations to inject brand personality with every interaction, but it also makes specific information like social media links, store addresses, website URLs, and special deals and offers highly accessible directly from the app in one place.

 # 2 | Meeting the people

Traditional digital channels like email and SMS often struggle to hit home with the user, the rise of digital clienteling is helping increase conversion and loyalty rates, and is reducing the number of carts not checked out, while improving efficiency in shipping and returns.

Exceptional customer experiences are made easy when speaking the same language on the same platforms that customers are accustomed to. According to a Dimensions Data study, nine out of ten consumers prefer using messaging to communicate with businesses, while Nielsen reports that 56% would rather message customer service than speak on the phone.

# 3 | Real conversations

Real interactions are vital for today’s customers as high quality, reliable two-way messaging at a global scale is the norm. Messaging apps like WhatsApp allow customers to get products, services, reviews, consultations, payment processes, and bookings in one place. Taking customer service to the next level is a cinch.

# 4 | Global engagements

A global customer base requires a global platform. Being the number one messaging app in 104 countries, WhatsApp Business has penetration like no other. By leveraging the most popular app for personal and business conversations, organizations can increase engagement, while boosting their outreach. As businesses look to tap into a more global market, WhatsApp Business could be an essential tool in the communications portfolio.

As many businesses grapple with a new reality, innovative digital solutions such as WhatsApp Business will become vital in delivering better results with unique user experiences.