How to build a WhatsApp chatbot for business
If you’re active on WhatsApp Business, you have some big shoes to fill. Because customers expect the same experience they get when talking to their friends and family. Conversational. Personal. Instant.
But when you’re running a business with high message volumes, multiple communication channels, and - last but not least - closing hours, you will not always be able to fill those shoes. No business on planet earth is capable of offering instant responses 24/7.
Unless they use a WhatsApp chatbot.
In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of using a WhatsApp Business chatbot and how to set it up (without having to use code).
What is a WhatsApp chatbot?
A WhatsApp Business chatbot is a technology that simulates a conversation with your customers via WhatsApp. When you build a chatbot for WhatsApp in Trengo, you can either decide to build a regular chatbot or a flowbot.
A chatbot understands what your customer is saying by recognizing certain keywords and formulating a reply. You can train the bot by simply filling in answers to questions you get asked often. The more variations you provide, the smarter your bot becomes.
A flowbot enables your visitor to find the information they are looking for by offering them multiple-choice options.
📚 Read more: Explaining the difference between chatbots and flowbots
What are the benefits of using a WhatsApp chatbot for business?
By building a WhatsApp Business chatbot, you hit two birds with one stone.
Improve the customer experience
First of all, your response time will drastically improve. This doesn’t always mean that a customer will get their question answered right away, but they will always get a reply. If the bot can’t answer the question, it can tell the customer when they can expect an answer from a human agent. Even outside of opening hours.
In this day and age, more and more consumers appreciate the ability to help themselves. Where we were once used to picking up the phone and calling customer service when we had a problem, most of us now first try to solve problems ourselves first. This could be by using Google or navigating a help center, but also by talking to a chatbot.
Improve team efficiency
Because of the rising customer expectations, customer service teams experience more pressure than ever. They need to reply almost instantly, solve issues fast, and on more communication channels than ever.
With a WhatsApp chatbot on their team, agents save a lot of time. Frequently asked questions that can be answered by the bot are no longer on their plate. Urgent messages are automatically recognized and assigned to the right agent. This leaves the customer service agent with the task of doing what they are good at: helping customers.
A bot is not only a good customer service tool, it’s also useful for marketing purposes. Oftentimes, WhatsApp bots are built to collect contact information and even schedule appointments.
Imagine being able to make an appointment with your hairdresser by sending a text and quickly setting a time with the help of a bot. For most people, especially the ones that spend a lot of their time on WhatsApp, this is more convenient and personal than having to navigate to a website.
What are the requirements to build a chatbot for WhatsApp?
The regular WhatsApp Business app that you can download from the App Store and Play Store doesn’t enable users to build a chatbot. That’s because the app was specifically built for small businesses with a low number of incoming messages. These businesses usually don’t need a bot.
For bigger businesses that want to offer a professional experience via WhatsApp, Meta launched the WhatsApp Business API. With the API, businesses can work together on answering messages with an unlimited number of team members, get in-depth insights into team performance, and build WhatsApp chatbots.
The WhatsApp Business API doesn’t come with its own interface and can only be accessed via a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider such as Trengo. Once you have access to the API, you can immediately start building a bot.
How to build a WhatsApp chatbot (a step-by-step guide)
Once you are set up with the WhatsApp Business API, you can start building your bot. If this is not the case, you can find a guide on how to access the API here.
We’ll first explain how to set up a regular chatbot and get into setting up a flowbot (with multiple-choice options) later.
Setting up a WhatsApp chatbot in Trengo
Learn how to set up your own chatbot for WhatsApp in this video.
Setting up a WhatsApp flowbot in Trengo
- Go to settings >automation >flowbot.
- Click on the green + sign to create your bot.
- Start designing your flowbot by adding steps, buttons, and actions to it.
💡Tip: Before you get started, first map out a decision tree on a piece of paper. This way you get a good overview of how your flowbot will look and how many steps, buttons, and actions are required.
- Done? Then click on 'Configure your flowbot' in the left bottom corner.
Now that you've built your WhatsApp flowbot, you need to configure it:
- Go to settings >automation >flowbot and select your WhatsApp bot.
- Click on 'Configure your flowbot'
- Fill out the form below
Before you publish your flowbot, you can test it out in the playground before publishing it. This way, you can make sure it’s running smoothly before letting your customers interact with it.
Best practices for successful WhatsApp Business chatbots
Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to set up your bot for success. Here are some tips to get off to a good start.
Know your customers
Before creating a bot, learn more about your customer’s behavior on WhatsApp. Which types of questions do they ask? Are they support-related or sales-related? Make sure to design your bot accordingly.
Keep your copy choppy
If you want your customer to actually read every word you’re writing to them, keep it short. Too many times I have run into bots that answer with long-winded answers that take way too long to read. Your customers are busy, they want a fast to-the-point answer.
Apply an informal tone of voice
Keep in mind that WhatsApp is mostly used in an informal way. The average consumer uses it to talk to friends and family. In other words, conversations shouldn’t feel like an email interaction. Rather, keep the tone of voice informal, as long as it doesn’t veer off too far from your brand.
Create fallback messages
When you’re using a chatbot, make sure that you set a clear fallback message. This is the message that the bot sends to your customers when it doesn’t recognize what the customer is trying to say. Here’s an example:
“Sorry, I don’t know how to answer that yet. Please rephrase your question.”
Forward messages to a human in time
Like I said earlier, your customers are busy. They don’t want to spend time on a bot that doesn’t seem to be able to offer the right information. And a bot simply isn’t always going to be able to be perfect. That’s why you should train it to recognize when it should hand a conversation over to a human employee. This could be when a customer uses a certain keyword, such as ‘angry’ or ‘complaint’. But you can also do this after a bot has failed to recognize a customer’s questions more than two times. This avoids the customer from becoming frustrated with your business.
Ending a conversation? Add a CTA
When a conversation between a bot and your customer comes to an end, you should always end it with a clear call to action. This is a way to give your customer the opportunity to take the next logical action without having to think about what that should be. For support conversations, you could decide to end with a link to your help center for more information.
WhatsApp chatbot examples: learn from these success stories
These companies have successfully integrated a WhatsApp chatbot for a number of different use cases.
Ferryscanner is a Greece-based search and booking engine that helps people find affordable ferry tickets to exciting destinations all over the world. When customers reach out to Ferryscanner via WhatsApp, they are first asked a couple of questions by a flowbot.
The WhatsApp bot saves them loads of time by collecting basic information about the customer before they get in contact with a human agent. Not having to ask for a name, country, and booking code from every single customer makes a big difference in the long run.
Read Ferryscanner’s story here
BAS World is the biggest truck and trailer dealer in Europe. Since they’re active in so many different countries, their customer service team speaks no less than thirteen languages. Since they wanted to automate part of their customer experience, their bot also speaks thirteen languages.
"The most important advantage of using flowbots is that we can help our customers faster than we did before," says Fleur, sales employee at BAS World. "The flowbot saves us a lot of time because it asks a lot of simple but necessary questions for us. This way, we have a lot of information before we get in contact with customers. This helps us to offer better service."
Hubo is one of the biggest DIY stores in the Netherlands, with over 130 franchises throughout the country. All their stores are individually available via WhatsApp, all via the same WhatsApp number. Their WhatsApp bot has a so-called ‘location finder’ functionality, that quickly puts them in contact with a nearby store.
Desiree van den Hoogen from Hubo: “Customers can start a conversation by clicking a button on our website. Here, they first receive a greeting message and are asked to tell us their name. Then, they're asked to name the location they want to get in contact with. Trengo's location finder then automatically forwards their conversation to the right location.”
You don’t have to be a developer to build a WhatsApp Business chatbot
Building your own WhatsApp bot doesn’t have to be complex. With Trengo, you can build your own no-code bot without having to use a single line of code.