Today, the world of the consumer moves faster than ever. They communicate with hundreds, or even thousands of contacts in a flash through a singular status update, and consumers can be the literal making or breaking of a company through one viral share.

Indeed, communication has never been so streamlined, nor the world of business so open.

However with the pace of this, come challenges for the average SME. Consumers want to talk, they want to instantly message and they expect ever more innovative ways of being able to do so.

WhatsApp in recent years has become more than a worthy adversary for the challenge, and in this blog article we bring to you the very latest news from WhatsApp HQ – taking a straightforward look at just how big an impact this once fledgling app is now having on the global world of commerce.

The official word from WhatsApp HQ for the year ahead

As excitement builds for the imminent launch of WhatsApp services specifically targeting businesses (where ‘new’ features will be added to help businesses communicate with their customers) there has and will be many rumours in the runup to official confirmations as to what will, and won’t be added to the app.

Here’s the official word, for now at least, from Jan Koum (co-founder of WhatsApp).

“Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam”.
Jan Koum, announcing WhatsApp for business

WhatsApp: Where we are today

We could write about the ways in which consumer to business communications have changed and still not cover the topic in 10,000 words. Yet understanding this element of business operations can provide for real USPs when gotten right (here’s a great blog post on this very topic – ‘How Business Communications Have Changed’).

For now however let us delve into just what WhatsApp is providing for your business communications today…

1. Your business can be always available

More than any other consumer bug bear of modern companies is the issue of having to phone in, hold to awful music and press 1, 2 and 3 for any number of stages is particularly troublesome. With WhatsApp you can be viewed as always available and instantly contactable. What’s more, where consumers don’t have time for phoning or emailing a company, a simple WhatsApp message is seen as a very quick task – hassle and cost free. And they also know when their message has been delivered and read.

2. The new phone call feature can deliver serious cost cuts

As of April 2015, WhatsApp added further to their already valuable offering by adding in a call feature. This can then provide for serious cost cuts for business and consumer alike, where they can use nothing more than their WiFi connection. That’s cross country, cross continent – free calls from and to anywhere in the world.

Oh, and if that weren’t enough then SMEs can also look forward to the power of video calling – all from within WhatsApp. The launch date of this feature is yet to be announced, but if expert opinion is to be believed, this could be as soon as within the next 12 months.

In recent years video calling has really come to the fore for some product based companies, as support is provided more effectively than ever before, through consumers that can visually demonstrate the problems that they may have encountered when using the product that they’re calling about. This cuts out the need for endless questions and guesswork on the side of support. Customer/employee satisfaction all round!

3. The technology moves seamlessly from mobile to mobile

WhatsApp doesn’t require any fancy hardware. All it needs is a SmartPhone and ‘hey presto’ you have one super shiny communication extraordinaire image. You could be the biggest company, or the smallest.

4. It’s a super smart marketing tool

For businesses who are seeking out an instant channel through which to send their marketing messages, WhatsApp delivers something that many other mediums don’t – a super high open ratio.

5. It’s a tool that not only empowers consumer to business communications, but internal communications also

The potential of WhatsApp extends far beyond external communications, and can provide for a pretty awesome tool for the company with multiple locations or remote staff. Employees can easily converse, create working groups, send all manner of files and simply work better, together (and for bosses the handy ‘Read’ ticks will take away the excuse of ‘I never received the email’ once and for all).

6. And finally… consumer simply LOVE WhatsApp

Research has shown that WhatsApp users check their messages over 100 times a day (Lasse Rouhiainen 2015). They simply love the flexibility of being able to chat from anywhere, at any time, sharing pictures, voice notes and other files and being able to do so all for free. If you need any further proof to this proclaim consider this: WhatsApp now has over one billion users (Daily Mail 2016), now that’s one seriously large potential customer base.

Need further inspiration?

Innovative uses of WhatsApp: A few well-placed case studies from Brazil

There are plenty of great examples of companies harnessing WhatsApp for commercial gain and competitive advantage, a seemingly leading collection of such companies hail from Brazil, here’s a great blog on the topic: 5 Ways WhatsApp is used by Businesses in Brazil.

Going beyond WhatsApp

Beyond WhatsApp you can further hone your communications by coupling this powerful app up with a perfect social media approach. Check out these inspirational stories from companies that have got their external customer services communications down pat.

Ready to get started?

You can check out the app yourself over on WhatsApp’s business page.