WhatsApp Business API: all you need to know in 2023
2023 is the year to optimize customer communication with the WhatsApp Business API. Customers want quick and easy communication via the channel they use most. And with 2 billion active daily users, it's safe to say Trengo is that channel.
WhatsApp Business is taking over and if you want to play the game, you have to be on there too. Whether you are in e-commerce, travel, automotive, HR, or retail. WhatsApp Business has the potential to give your customers great experiences with your brand.
A few years ago, WhatsApp Business has launched the API for mid to large-sized businesses. This means that you can now manage high volumes of WhatsApp messages, work together with your team and automate time-consuming workflows.
In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the WhatsApp Business API in 2023.
- The difference between the WhatsApp Business app and API
- Who should consider the WhatsApp Business API?
- 9 benefits of the WhatsApp Business API
- The 24-hour limit of the WhatsApp Business API
- The how-to of WhatsApp Business template messages
- Choosing the right WhatsApp Business Solution Provider
- WhatsApp Business API costs
- WhatsApp Business API success stories
- How to start using the WhatsApp Business API
Let’s dive in!
The difference between the WhatsApp Business app and API
The WhatsApp Business app was designed for small businesses that receive a limited number of messages. It is intended for use by a small group of people, as it does not have collaboration features, automation options, or insights that would be useful for larger teams. However, it can be a very useful tool for small companies.
The WhatsApp Business API, on the other hand, was specially designed for larger businesses to manage WhatsApp Business conversations. It enables teams to work together on answering messages, automate repetitive workflows, and learn from in-depth insights into team performance and customer happiness.
Who should consider the WhatsApp Business API?
Whether or not the WhatsApp Business API is a good fit for your company, depends on more than just the size of your team. The industry is also important. If you ask us, these 3 industries should definitely get started with the WhatsApp Business API.
The world of e-commerce is changing fast. Customers want to buy something today and get answers to all their questions immediately. Think of questions about returns, sizes, or discounts. If you don’t answer them, another company will. Because of the amount of daily incoming messages, we highly recommend using the WhatsApp Business API for e-commerce. It’s perfect for answering quickly and being trustworthy!
Buying a car is an experience. It all starts with the first contact customers have with the dealer. The WhatsApp Business API can make it easy for customers to reach out and ask questions about the car they like without getting stuck on a long phone conversation. Questions can be answered and appointments can be made. This saves the sales team a lot of time, especially if you use automation. We’ll get to that in a bit!
HR & recruitment
The war for talent is real. HR and recruitment teams are fighting against tough competition. But hiring processes take time and paperwork. The WhatsApp Business API can save loads of time for the HR team. You can automate standard questions and focus on giving the applicant a smooth and fancy application process.
If your industry isn’t in our top 3, that doesn’t mean the WhatsApp Business API can’t be useful. If you work together with a big team and you get a lot of messages on a daily basis, the API can already be a huge advantage for any industry. This also includes travel, retail, and education. Later we’ll dive into customer stories.
9 benefits of the WhatsApp Business API
With the API, you are equipped with a wide variety of features that aren’t available in the app. Below, we’ll summarize the most important ones.
1. Combine all your communication channels into one inbox
Nowadays, customers communicate on so many different channels. There’s WhatsApp, Instagram, email, and so on. What if there was one inbox for all your communication channels? Luckily, with the WhatsApp Business API there is.
The WhatsApp Business API allows you to combine all your communication channels into one single inbox using Trengo. This means that all your messages, whether it’s on Instagram, your website, or WhatsApp, land in one place. This gives you and your team a clear overview of all the incoming messages. You can see it as the starting point of your communication. With just the app, this isn’t even a possibility.
2. Work together with a team
The WhatsApp Business API enables businesses to manage and answer WhatsApp messages with multiple users. This can be especially useful for larger businesses that receive a high volume of messages, as it allows them to divide the workload among multiple team members.
If you use the WhatsApp Business API in a platform such as Trengo, you and your colleagues can even communicate within threads. This means you’ll no longer have to use an external software solution to ask a colleague for help.
3. Send notifications
Aside from managing regular customer communication, the API enables you to send automated notifications to customers via WhatsApp. Think of order confirmations, appointment reminders, shipping updates, and so on. This helps to bring the entire customer journey — from talking about a product to buying it and receiving updates about it — to WhatsApp.
Businesses have the flexibility to send these notifications manually or automate the process, with the ability to schedule updates or trigger them based on certain events. For example, a business could choose to send an automated notification to a customer as soon as their purchase is made. To enable this functionality, businesses will need to integrate their webshop software with the API.
When you use the API via Trengo, you can use native integrations with Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and Lightspeed.
4. Automate workflows
The bar for customer service agents has never been higher. Especially on WhatsApp, customers expect lower response times than before.
When your team deals with a high number of inbound messages every day, living up to these standards is close to impossible. When you use the API via Trengo, you can automate conversations and workflows to save both your team and the customer precious time.
First off, you can set up an auto-reply that ensures every customer is always replied to. This could be with an out-of-office message outside of business hours, or with a greeting message during the day.
You can also use quick replies to answer frequently asked questions. Everybody on your team can use the same quick replies.
With rules, you can automate repetitive parts of your team’s workflow. Those things most customer service agents do hundreds of times on a daily basis. Assigning messages to the right agent. Labeling a conversation. Sending out CSAT surveys. These are all things you can easily automate with rules, so that your team can focus on the conversation with the customer.
💡 Tip: use the round-robin rule to ensure all your customers are assigned the same number of conversations every day.
With a WhatsApp chatbot, you can automate conversations with your customers. The bot will be able to understand and answer simple questions, offer guidance with multiple-choice questions, and forward your customer to a human agent at the right time.
5. Measure customer happiness and performance
As a manager, you’ll want to know how your team is doing and if your customers are happy. But when you’re working with a team that handles a large number of conversations every day, it can be difficult to keep a clear overview.
When you use the API via Trengo, you can get access to in-depth insights into all your customer interactions. You’ll learn how fast your team is responding to messages, how many conversations they are having each day, and how fast they are able to resolve a customer query. You can also measure customer happiness by sending out CSAT surveys.
6. Send out messages in bulk
Do you have a popular product that quickly runs out? Or do you want to let customers know the status of a hitch in the system? Or notify interested customers when the new collection is live? You can notify a list of people all at once with WhatsApp Bulk messages.
By sending out messages in bulk, you can use the WhatsApp Business API as a marketing tool. Bulk messages are sent from a single account to multiple accounts at the same time. The recipients will see the incoming messages as private and will not know it is a bulk message.
With the WhatsApp Business API, you can send bulk messages to up to 800 recipients per day. You have to use a message template to send out a Bulk message, but you can personalize it with for details like names or order information. That way, the experience feels personalized to the customer.
A great use case of this feature is the ability to send newsletters via WhatsApp.
7. Add a WhatsApp chat to your website
With a WhatsApp chat on your site, you can help customers find their way around your website. The biggest pro of using WhatsApp over a regular live chat, is that the conversation can continue once the customer leaves the website.
8. Use reply buttons
Customers want immediate answers. Reply buttons do the trick.
The WhatsApp Business API allows you to quickly answer customers with the so-called reply buttons. You can use a reply button with a maximum of 3 options and send it to customers. Just like multiple choice.
This helps speed up the conversation and saves your customer service agents time typing everything manually. Reply buttons are great for regularly recurring situations. Think about returns or payments. Simply give the customer 3 options to choose from and the communication flow gets smoother and more consistent. The benefits of reply buttons?
- Higher response rate and conversion. It’s easier to click than type!
- Saves time for your customer and your team. Your customers don’t have to wait for the reply and your team can focus on more complex issues.
- It’s easy. Simply set up reply buttons, there’s no need to ask for approval like message templates. Adjust them whenever you see fit.
9. Get verified on WhatsApp
Are you familiar with the blue and green ticks on social media? They prove the trustworthiness of a company or person. With the WhatsApp Business API, you can verify your account and get the WhatsApp green tick.
The green tick shows that your business exists and is checked by Meta. This makes it an official business account. Once your account is verified you’ll give a great first impression to customers. They can see what company they are talking to. Next to that, the badge is recognizable and shows credibility. After all, you’ve been through the verification process.
The WhatsApp green tick helps customers to reach out more easily and trust your company. It’s also a feature that is not frequently used by companies. All the more reason to do it, right? Let’s beat the competition!
The 24-hour limit of the WhatsApp Business API
To prevent spam and make sure businesses reply fast to customers, WhatsApp came up with a 24-hour window. This means businesses have 24 hours to reply to messages to customers.
After those 24 hours, businesses can only send a message with a WhatsApp Business template message. Template messages can be sent to either start a new conversation or reply to a customer after the 24-hour window. You can write these templates yourself, but they first have to be approved by WhatsApp before you can send them. For this, they have to fit WhatsApp’s policies.
The how-to of WhatsApp Business template messages
Did you know you can’t reach out to customers first on WhatsApp Business? WhatsApp doesn’t want people to get a lot of messages from companies. However, there is still a way to reach out to your customers in a personalized way.
The API allows you to do so with WhatsApp Business template messages. These messages can be personalized and sent only to people that have opted into these notifications. Kind of like a newsletter.
You can use WhatsApp Business template messages for updates and information, but not for commercial purposes. Discounts are a no-go. Updates about shipping information are a yes. Here are some examples of Whatsapp Business template messages:
- Send a message that the customer account is successfully made.
- Remind customers about their appointment at a specific time and location.
- Let customers know when you’ll be able to reply to a question. This one is specifically handy in busy times!
- Notify customers that the payment has been received and their order is on its way.
- Inform customers about their upcoming reservation at your restaurant.
You can easily request a template via Trengo. But first, you’ll need to become a customer and use the WhatsApp Business API.
Choosing the right WhatsApp Business Solution Provider
Using the WhatsApp Business API is a bit more complex than using the regular app. That’s because the API doesn’t come with an interface and can only be accessed via a customer engagement platform like Trengo.
Not every platform can connect to the API. For this, they need to be an official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP). There are few BSPs worldwide and WhatsApp has high standards of platforms that sign up to become one.
When picking a BSP, it’s advised to take a look at the specific features the platform has. Just because a platform is a BSP, does not mean they offer all the features that the API is capable of.
Trengo offers all the benefits mentioned earlier in this blog. You get a complete WhatsApp API solution that works for both your customer service, sales, and marketing team. You can start a WhatsApp API account via Trengo and get started within 10 minutes.
WhatsApp Business API costs: what you can expect
To calculate the WhatsApp Business costs for your situation, you need to take the following costs into consideration:
- Setup costs
- Monthly costs
- Costs per conversation
The costs always differ per platform.
A couple of BSPs ask for a one-time fee to set up your WhatsApp Business API account. With some BSPs, this number can go up to €1000 (!). Even though this process doesn’t take that much effort for either party.
At Trengo, you pay no setup costs.
The monthly costs can differ a lot per BSP. Many providers don’t communicate their pricing at all. And others are not an official BSP and offer the API via a third party. This way, you may face unexpected costs. That’s why it’s advised to first research the best solution for your business.
Besides just looking at the costs, it’s also important to research the features every platform offers. For instance: at Userlike, you can build a WhatsApp chatbot with a subscription of €720 per month. At Trengo, you can build a chatbot with a subscription starting at €25 a month.
Costs per conversation
All WhatsApp Business API users pay a fixed price per conversation. A conversation initiated by a customer comes with a different price than a conversation started by a business.
The first 1000 conversations per month are free for all WhatsApp Business API users. The costs per conversation differ per country. In The Netherlands, the costs are
WhatsApp Business API: real-world success stories
The best way to learn about the WhatsApp Business API is to see it in action. We’ve listed 5 customers that tell you their stories about customer communication via WhatsApp Business. From e-commerce to automotive, travel, and retail. Here are some success stories of happy WhatsApp Business API users.
E-commerce: The Polar Company
Remember when we talked about how the WhatsApp Business API was perfect for e-commerce? The Polar Company proves it. The founders of The Polar Company started their deodorant company as a side business in high school. But in just a few years they’ve grown into a big player in the field. Every day they get around 300 tickets with questions about their product.
When a customer at The Polar Company makes a purchase, they get an automated message via WhatsApp that explains exactly how to use the product. Before they used the WhatsApp Business API, The Polar Company had to manually send each message on a shared device. This obviously took a lot of time and was simply not practical. With the API, they can now automate this process.
We haven’t mentioned the travel industry yet, but now that the pandemic has passed, people are longing for a holiday again. That shows at Ferryscanner.
The booking engine gets over 1600 messages a day. Their goal? They aim to close customer inquiries within 24 hours. That wouldn’t be possible without the WhatsApp Business API. The team at Ferryscanner, a company that sells tickets for ferries across the world, started using the WhatsApp Business API right before their busiest summer season ever. They won back loads of time by building a WhatsApp chatbot that asked every customer a few basic questions, such as ‘What’s your name?’ and ‘What’s your booking number?’. This gave agents on the team breathing room to focus on more complex tasks.
Do you want to personalize the customer experience? Take Hubo as an example. The retail store wanted to offer personal expert advice through WhatsApp Business.
The goal was to get closer to customers and get them in touch with the personnel in the nearest town. The WhatsApp Business API is an absolute necessity in this case. Hubo has more than 130 stores spread out in the Netherlands. But adding 130 different WhatsApp numbers to their printed marketing materials didn’t sound like the best of ideas. That’s why they used the location finder functionality of their WhatsApp chatbot. The bot quickly determines where the customer is from and connects them to the store nearest to them.
The WhatsApp Business API and automotive are the perfect combination.
Muntstad is one of the most well-known automotive companies in the Netherlands. You can take a car for a test drive, buy it and keep it there for maintenance. 90% of their incoming questions come in via WhatsApp Business. That’s about 800 chats per month. They use the WhatsApp Business API and automate their communication with rules.
Essential for Muntstad was the collaboration between teams and locations. In Trengo they can easily assign tickets to the right team. This is done automatically by using rules. By using certain keywords, the ticket gets forwarded to the right team. This helps Muntstad work efficiently and keep their response time below a minute in 90% of all their incoming conversations.
Selling perfume online? That sounds like a challenge. Parfumado turns the perfume world upside down and uses the WhatsApp Business API to create an unforgettable customer experience.
The retail company wanted to make buying perfume more dynamic and personal, changing scents every month. They did so with success, they have around 4000 conversations every month with customers. Customers reach out to Parfumado through a QR code. After that, they can chat with the team on WhatsApp.
One of their concepts is a so-called perfume calendar. They ask customers to make a screenshot of it and afterward, they get a link with a form to fill out. This way, the customer receives perks. Perfumado notices a big difference after the implementation of WhatsApp Business. Customers who have reached out via WhatsApp have a longer lifetime value.
How to start using the WhatsApp Business API
Did we convince you of the importance of the WhatsApp Business API? When choosing Trengo as your WhatsApp Business Solution Provider, the process of getting started with the API goes as follows.
- Start a 14-day free trial at Trengo.
- Go to settings → WhatsApp Business.
- Click “Connect your number”.
- An overview with information now pops up. Read everything carefully.
- Click ‘Get started’.
- Confirm that you have a Facebook Business account. Don’t have a Facebook Business account? Create one first.
- Now, you’ll get to see an overview that gives you information on your phone number. Read this carefully.
- Confirm that you have a number that meets the requirements. If you don’t contact Trengo’s customer service via email@example.com.
- Connect your Facebook account and create a WhatsApp Business account. Make sure you have the following information ready:
- The name of your company
- The address of your business
- Click ‘Continue with Facebook’ to log in.
- The name of your account and your phone number are automatically filled in. Check if this information is correct before you continue.
- Everything correct? Click ‘Next’ to continue.
Whoop! 🎉 You have successfully activated your number on the WhatsApp Business API.
- Go to https://business.facebook.com/ and log in with your Facebook account.
- Navigate to ‘Security center’ and click ‘Start Verification’. If you don’t see this button, your account may have already been verified.
Start a free trial at Trengo
Are you ready to help customers via the world’s most popular messaging app? WhatsApp is currently being used by more than 2 billion people worldwide. Besides talking to friends and family, consumers are now using it to get in touch with business too.
With Trengo, you can use all the functionalities that enable you to offer a modern customer experience on WhatsApp. You can be live with the WhatsApp API in ten minutes. And if you need some help getting set up, our team is always ready to help.