The what, why and how of a shared WhatsApp inbox

May 16, 2024
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With almost 3 billion active users globally, WhatsApp has become the #1 messaging platform used for personal and business interactions alike. Handling these WhatsApp conversations efficiently isn’t just a nice-to-have for businesses—it’s a necessity for delivering the fast, personalised experiences that customers like. Fail to meet that bar, and you’ll quickly see satisfaction and loyalty rates going down!

But simply using WhatsApp alone has limits, even if you use WhatsApp Business API. Customers communicate across multiple channels, from live chat and social media to email and SMS. Trying to manage all these different conversations in separate inboxes is surely a recipe for operational chaos and missed opportunities.

Or not! Because there is a smarter solution: combining your WhatsApp communications with all your other channels into a centralised, shared inbox. 

Read on. Here, you will find: 

  • What is a shared WhatsApp inbox?
  • Benefits of a WhatsApp shared inbox
  • How Businesses Use a WhatsApp shared inbox
  • How to Use WhatsApp for a Team?

And more. 

What is a shared WhatsApp inbox? 

At its core, a shared WhatsApp inbox is a centralised place where all the WhatsApp messages and conversations for a business come together. This ensures that no inquiry gets missed or lost, as multiple team members can easily access and collectively manage the WhatsApp conversations.

From the inbox you can work together with the team on answering the messages, while also use automated templates, apply tags and rules, communicate with the team and much more.

However, using a shared WhatsApp inbox only for WhatsApp might not be enough. Customer communication is now spread across different channels and inboxes — and should you manage each channel separately, be ready for data silos. This fragmented approach makes it incredibly difficult to maintain a consistent experience as customers jump between channels. The answer is a centralised multichannel inbox.

Pick a centralised and collaborative team inbox

A better solution is to implement a multichannel shared inbox that integrates WhatsApp alongside your other messaging channels like live chat, email, social media, SMS and more. Per Aberdeen Group, companies with multichannel customer service strategies have a 23x higher customer satisfaction rate. Rather than every team member managing different inboxes for different channels, every customer conversation flows into one centralised platform, accessible to all team members. 

💡 With all conversations centralised, customer service representatives can efficiently manage high volumes of customer messages, not only from WhatsApp but other channels as well. And without much strain. This creates a better experience for both customers and agents, especially for consumer service industries like:

A WhatsApp shared inbox for hospitality

WhatsApp — and messaging channels like WhatsApp, such as Messenger, Instagram DM, etc. — is best for personalised service and the hospitality industry thrives on personalised customer services.

Through a shared inbox, you can communicate with your guests about various things, such as: 

  • Incoming inquiries 
  • Booking and booking information
  • Pre-arrival information
  • Services during stay 
  • Post-stay requests
  • Feedback 
  • Sending promotional customer messages

You can share your product catalogs and details about your rooms and other packages as well. Also, the hospitality industry is not just about guests—you can talk with vendors, suppliers, travel agents and other groups through a channel they prefer. All from one dashboard. 

How do other hospitality businesses use the inbox?

Huakai, a Spain-based company in the hospitality & tourism industry, received more than 500 messages a day through various communication channels. Their inboxes are filled with a high volume of requests, questions and incidents to be resolved, especially during high season.

The solution they wanted was a platform that would: 

  • Centralise all channels through which customers send them messages
  • Help them use WhatsApp more efficiently 
  • Have simple yet effective integrations
  • Have time-saving automation capabilities.

They implemented Trengo—and let the results speak for themselves: 

  • 3x more requests are handled per day
  • Response time decreased by 50%
  • 500 conversations per day.

Read the complete case study here

Travel and leisure

The travel and leisure industry is no different from the hospitality industry. With a shared WhatsApp inbox, you can provide fast and cohesive support to travellers via a single shared inbox, handling questions about bookings, updates, changes, etc. You can discuss their interests, suggest destinations and create customised itineraries based on that. 

What travel and leisure businesses can use the inbox for is: 

  • Personalised trip planning
  • 24/7 Support
  • Instant updates
  • Itinerary management
  • Flight reminders
  • Cross-team coordination 
  • Information about upcoming trips or seasonal packages
  • Promotional offers and more. 

How do other travel and leisure businesses use the inbox?

Ferryscanner is a Greece-based search and booking engine that helps people find affordable ferry tickets to destinations all over the world. Customers contact them on various channels, and as per Alvertos Iskinatzis, the customer success supervisor, his team had to have different channels opened next to their customer contact platform to see if they had missed any comments or direct messages. Off-season, it was manageable. But during summer months, they would see a big uptick in the number of conversations across different channels, which would leave him and his team “scrambling to manage these successful.” 

To address the problem, Ferryscanner implemented Trengo’s multichannel inbox, Flowboat and rules.

The results:

  • They handled a 700% increase in customer inquiries across five different communication channels—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, email, live chat and Google’s Business Messages—with ease.
  • In addition, Trengo’s automated rules labelled 35k conversations accurately. “This gives our human agents time to manage more complicated issues,” says Alvertos. 

Automotive industry

Shared inbox presents the automotive industry with many opportunities for innovation in customer service and operations. You can respond to inquiries, schedule appointments and nurture leads directly, as well as provide after-sales support and send important vehicle updates. From a single, unified dashboard accessed by all relevant team members. 

Some of the things dealerships and service providers can do with the shared inbox are: 

  • Sales and service inquiries
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Lead nurturing
  • After-sales support
  • Quick FAQ or road-side assistance
  • Vehicle updates
  • Informing existing customers about new offers and packages

How do other automotive businesses use the inbox?

Munstand is one of the Netherlands’s largest automotive companies in the country, offering car buying, lease and maintenance services across 11 locations. Given their large customer base and a variety of offerings, they experienced difficulties managing multiple customer communications across various channels. Their teams regularly encountered a high volume of incoming conversations on everything, from sales and maintenance to standard repairs. However, given the lack of an integrated platform, the responses were rather slow, and the overall customer experience was average.

Enter Trengo, and now the team at Munstand manages 4 channels, including WhatsApp Business, email, Facebook Messenger and the live chat on their website.

The results:

  • The response time in 90% of incoming conversations has been an impressive under a minute. 
  • In addition to Munstand, BAS World, a truck and trailer dealer in Europe, witnessed a 70% increase in lead generation and a 10% increase in team efficiency after employing Trengo.  

E-commerce industry

Per Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service report, 72% of survey respondents expected brands to have a full set of information on each customer’s personal data, purchase history and level of customer satisfaction. With a shared inbox, e-commerce businesses can do exactly that. Teams can quickly capture pre-purchase inquiries, resolve post-purchase issues, access customer history and track order status, shipping and delivery issues—from a unified view.  

Why the inbox works for e-commerce is to: 

  • Address customer questions about products, sizes, colors and availability in real time.
  • Provide real-time order tracking information and delivery updates directly through different channels, including WhatsApp.
  • Suggest relevant products and personalised offers to customers based on past purchases and browsing behavior. 
  • Offer efficient customer support for order issues, returns or product troubleshooting.
  • Reach out to customers who abandoned carts and nudging them to complete their purchases through personalised messages.

How do other e-commerce businesses use the inbox?

EVVO HOME is a customer-obsessed e-commerce company offering high-end appliances at competitive prices. Usually, they receive more than 60 inquiries every day across various channels. They wanted a solution that would streamline all customer operations, from managing orders and tickets to conversations and key integrations. 

After thorough market research, they chose Trengo. “What we use the most are customer profiles and automated workflows. So whenever a message or an email comes in and, within minutes, the right department is notified and able to respond to that customer,” says Cristina, Digital Marketing Specialist at EVVO.

Overall, EVVO HOME achieved the following after implementing Trengo’s customer engagement platform: 

  • Decrease response time by 50%
  • Increased revenue by 5 to 7%
  • ‍Better internal team communication

Besides EVVO HOME, Hubo, a DIY hardware store with 180 locations, implemented only Trengo’s WhatsApp Business integration. In addition to driving 60% revenue from WhatsApp alone, here’s how other results look like: 

Benefits of a Shared WhatsApp Inbox 

Combining WhatsApp with other messaging channels into one centralised inbox helps businesses overcome key customer communication challenges. 

This unified approach offers:

1. Faster response times

With a 98% open rate, WhatsApp messages are more likely to be seen and engaged with. With all conversations flowing into a unified interface, teams can quickly identify, prioritise and respond to incoming conversations from WhatsApp and other channels. Similarly, using automated templates can further improve the response times and route conversations to the team with context. 

2. Enhanced collaboration

A lack of collaboration is often the root cause of bad customer experience. 70 percent of customers expect customer service agents to collaborate on their behalf. And that’s possible only with a shared inbox, as multiple team members can collaborate together on customer conversations. 

You can pass the information between departments or specialised teams, add a timely context or even work together on drafts in real-time (yes, unlike other platforms, you can collaborate on drafts in real-time).  

3. Improved customer satisfaction

76% of consumers feel frustrated when businesses fail to provide personalised experiences. A shared inbox (and WhatsApp team inbox) helps build trust and credibility, with 81% of marketers reporting stronger relationships throughout the customer journey, especially with WhatsApp as the communication channel. 

It’s simple—you get access to rich customer profiles with all their past interactions, order history and preferences. You can also use that data to send personalised offers and promotions to customers.

4. Data-driven insights

Data is useful only when you can make sense of it and take smarter decisions based on the insights. A shared inbox gives you a panoramic view of the history of customer communication across all channels. For example, you may observe that your team’s response to email is fast but average when it comes to tickets. Or, you could see that at some hours during the day, there is an increase in customers’ queries on a specific channel. 

With all WhatsApp and customer conversations organised into one stream, it’s easy to categorise by label, spot trends in customer inquiries and identify areas that need attention. 

5. Lots of saved time

Many shared inbox solutions offer features like automated replies, bots and reporting, which can be all be setup to save your team a lot of time. For instance, a business can set up an automated bot to answer frequent customer questions, freeing up teams to focus on more high-value tasks such as order tracking, product recommendations and other key issues. 

How to handle WhatsApp conversations with a team?

Alright! You're ready to start picking up all WhatsApp conversations with the team. So let's start. When implementing a Shared WhatsApp Inbox for your customer service team, here are some practical tips: 

  • Start small — begin with a pilot program to test the shared inbox with a small team or subset of customers. And scale when you see the results. Speaking of starting small (and free), sign up for a demo and get a 14-day free Trengo’s trial. 
  • Define your workflow — not all workflows are the same. Establish clear processes for handling customer inquiries, response time expectations for different types of channels and inquiries, assigning conversations and escalation protocols for high-priority/complex issues. Also, do not overlook tone and language standards to maintain brand consistency. 
  • Choose the right tools — select a shared inbox solution that integrates with your existing customer service software and provides features like automation, analytics and customisation.
  • Train your team — don’t stop after the initial setup and training. Provide agents with comprehensive training on the shared inbox, WhatsApp best practices, advanced features and customer service standards. 

Once you are on track, here are some best practices to follow to ensure your customer receives the best support.

Best practices for communicating with customers via WhatsApp

  • Make your presence known — let your customers know that you are on WhatsApp. For example, the live chat widget on our website offers WhatsApp as a communication channel, in addition to email and flowbot. 
  • Make your availability clear — let your customers know your schedule. Are you available 24/7? Communicate. Available only during working hours? Communicate the same and set up away messages for when you are not available. 
  • Use labels and tags — organise conversations with labels and tags to categorise and prioritise customer inquiries. It will be easier for your agents to find and respond to messages.
  • Set up a Flowbot use automation to streamline tasks, such as collecting information when a visitor initiates a conversation, assigning conversations to agents, sending follow-up messages or escalating complex issues. Here’s how to build a WhatsApp Business bot without code
  • Monitor and Analyse performance — Use analytics to track agent performance, customer satisfaction and conversation trends. 

In practice: how do you automatically forward WhatsApp messages to email?

Sorry to break it to you, but WhatsApp doesn’t offer a direct way to forward messages to email. However, there can be two workarounds: 

  1. Using the iOS app
  2. Trengo for WhatsApp Business users.

Forwarding via the iOS app

You can forward entire WhatsApp threads or individual messages to email using the iOS app:

  • To forward a thread: Open the conversation, click on the person/group name, scroll down and select ‘Export Chat’> ‘Mail’> enter the email address > ‘Send.’
  • To forward an individual message: Open the conversation, click and hold the message, select ‘Forward’> share icon > enter the email address > ‘Send.’

Forwarding via Trengo (for WhatsApp Business users)

Trengo’s smart customer engagement platform allows you to manage emails and WhatsApp conversations in one inbox. All your WhatsApp messages will be automatically forwarded to the email. You can label and organise customer conversations for easy tracking and retrieval.

Plan a Trengo demo and unlock a 14-day free trial to unlock this feature and more!

Nail WhatsApp conversations and meet customer expectations 

Meeting customer expectations isn’t just appreciated — it’s expected. So overcome any customer communication challenges and combine your channels, including WhatsApp, into one inbox. That's the way to delivering exceptional customer experiences.

With a shared inbox, you’ll be able to streamline operations, boost team productivity, gain valuable insights from conversations and maintain a seamless experience for customers no matter which channel they use.

Ready to transform how your team manages WhatsApp and all your customer communications? Explore how Trengo can help you. 

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