WhatsApp Business: Advantages and Disadvantages at a Glance
Companies are increasingly using messaging to talk to their customers. So what exactly are the advantages and disadvantages of using WhatsApp Business?
Current statistics show that Whatsapp is used more frequently by all age groups than Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. It’s the most popular messenger app for staying in touch with friends and family. And this is precisely the biggest advantage of WhatsApp Business: companies become part of the private communication of their target groups, so that quick chats can grow into long-term customer relationships.
Seeing the iconic green speech bubble also signals to your customers that you are responding to changing user habits and quickly addressing their concerns. This, in turn, strengthens trust in your brand and can give you a clear competitive advantage.
What is the difference between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business is an advanced version of WhatsApp that integrates features for sales and service. A company's WhatsApp profile includes its picture and company name, as well as its address, email address and website. This is called a "business account."
By using WhatsApp Business, companies are subject to the WhatsApp Commerce Policy, which regulates corporate use. It ensures that both offensive and illegal content stay off of WhatsApp. This helps the app remain a reputable and positive communication channel.
There are two ways to message your customers on WhatsApp Business. The WhatsApp Business App, which is a simple mobile application, and the WhatsApp Business API, which connects the messenger to professional customer messaging software.
Depending on which option you choose, you will have different advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a closer look at them.
- WhatsApp Business App: Advantages
- WhatsApp Business App: Disadvantages
- WhatsApp Business API: Advantages
- WhatsApp Business API: Disadvantages
- Userlike: Advantages at a glance
Advantages of the WhatsApp Business App
The WhatsApp Business app was developed specifically for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. The application looks quite similar to your private WhatsApp and can also be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play Store. Here are the advantages of the WhatsApp Business app at a glance:
- Mobile app. Since it’s an app on your smartphone, you always have a connection to your customers right in your pocket. Between meetings or during “downtime,” you can quickly address customer questions. The app version of WhatsApp Business is especially useful if you work independently or travel a lot.
- Parallel use to the private app. You can install the WhatsApp Business app on a smartphone in parallel with your private Whatsapp app. All you need is a second landline or mobile phone number, no sim card required.
Advanced chat features:
Labels. These allow you to mark chats with specific info, e.g. a customer’s status with "new customer" or "existing customer." Labels can be named individually and help you sort chats.
Automated messages. Create a welcome message to guarantee a quick response time. When you’re away, for example, customers are notified when you will get back to them.
Quick replies. Use this feature to create standard messages that can be added with a shortcut, such as "#thanks."
- Create a catalog. For companies that want to showcase their products directly in the app, WhatsApp has developed the catalog feature. With it, you can present your collection or special offers with a picture, price and description, with the option to link your online store.
- Generate a short link. You can automatically generate a click-to-chat link within the app so customers can contact you with just one click without having to save their number first. Alternatively, you can create the click-to-chat link manually if, for example, you are using the WhatsApp Business API.
Disadvantages of the WhatsApp Business App
Only partially GDPR-compliant. The biggest weakness of the WhatsApp Business app is the data protection issues that can arise when using it. For example, the app automatically reads all saved contacts (and their phone numbers) that are stored. You can avoid this by using the WhatsApp API.
Limited to five devices. Another disadvantage of the app is that it can only be installed on one smartphone and up to four other devices. These devices must then each be linked to the same number and, if necessary, shared between employees.
WhatsApp Business: Privacy, examples and first steps
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Only one employee account. Even though five devices are usually enough for small businesses, all employees work from the same account. This means that neither you nor your customers can track which answers come from which employee, which can seem like a lack of transparency in your customer service.
No options for professional service. Compared to the Business API, which enables advanced sales and service functions, the WhatsApp Business app is clearly inferior. We'll show you which advantages the WhatsApp Business API brings to the table in the next section.
The advantages of the WhatsApp Business API
If you connect WhatsApp to a professional customer messaging platform via the WhatsApp Business API, your entire team can access a central messaging inbox from any device.
However, the user interface is not provided by WhatsApp itself, but by a WhatsApp business solution partner like Userlike. If you sign up with a partner platform, you will benefit from the following API advantages:
- Fully GDPR-compliant. One of the most important arguments in favor of the WhatsApp Business API is that data protection is guaranteed. While the WhatsApp Business app raises many security issues for businesses, using WhatsApp via the Business API is GDPR-compliant. Tip: Make sure that your chosen business solution partner also offers a secure infrastructure. Userlike, for example, only uses servers in Germany and encrypts all messages.
- Central inbox for sales and service teams. With the chosen communication platform, each employee receives their own employee account. This provides access to the shared team inbox, where customer inquiries and messages are processed and answered. Unlike in the app, you can see which messages employees replied to in this central inbox.
- Use on any desktop. Another advantage of the API is that you can use WhatsApp with an unlimited number of employee accounts. This means your service team can connect to the customer messaging platform and manage WhatsApp messages from any desktop PC, regardless of location. Sharing a smartphone among multiple employees, a disadvantage of the app, isn’t necessary.
- Link to other messaging channels. While emails can be exchanged across providers (e.g. Yahoo to Gmail), users are limited to the respective app when messaging (WhatsApp to WhatsApp, Telegram to Telegram, etc.). Customer messaging platforms offer a variety of messenger integrations so that messages from different channels end up in the same inbox. This way, you retain full control of your customer inquiries, whether they come via your website chat, Facebook Messenger, SMS or Telegram.
- Advanced customer messaging features.
Depending on the messaging platform provider, various sales and service features are available for your WhatsApp channel. Userlike, for example, enables:
Intelligent chat routing. Assign employees specific skills and knowledge fields, such as a language or area of expertise, to automatically route chats to the best-suited agent.
Live translations. Chat with your customers in their native language. With our DeepL integration, Userlike allows you to chat with your customers in up to 26 languages and serve them internationally.
Customer profiles. Userlike helps you keep a record of all your contacts. Conversations remain stored in the Message Center with comments, tags and details about the customer.
Chatbots. As customer inquiries increase, so does the need for automation. We provide you with our Logic Bot, which operates like a human employee, handling requests and forwarding them to an agent when necessary. If you already have a chatbot, you can connect it to Userlike using our chatbot API.
The disadvantages of the WhatsApp Business API
With WhatsApp, you only have 24 hours to respond to your customers' requests (the so-called "24-hour window"). If you reply to a message after this window expires, you must use a message template that was previously approved by WhatsApp. Because of this, the messenger ensures quick response times that users expect.
You can create message templates in Business Manager and submit them for approval. In the Userlike dashboard, you can conveniently handle the approval and send the template directly to WhatsApp with just one click. It only takes a few hours to receive an approval. Template placeholders allow you to customize details like names or images to different customers or groups. We covered additional rules, tips and examples in our article on message templates.
Note: Message templates are also used for proactive messages, e.g. for sending WhatsApp newsletters.
Unlike the app, the WhatsAppBusiness API is not free. Your WhatsApp business solution partner will charge a monthly fee for using the customer messaging platform and API access. Fees vary depending on the provider and the range of functions they offer. In comparison, Userlike offers an inexpensive and powerful overall package for companies of all sizes starting at just 90 Euros per month.
In addition, WhatsApp's pricing model charges a small fee per conversation. However, this is only charged once the company has exceeded 1,000 free conversations per month. Our experience shows that small and medium-sized companies generally get by with the monthly free quota, so there’s no need for additional costs. We have summarized important details about API costs in the post "WhatsApp business pricing: what costs you can expect."
The advantages of Userlike
With 10 years of experience in professional customer messaging, Userlike is one of the most experienced providers in the German market. In fact, some of our most well-known customers include companies like Nivea, Decathlon and Toyota.
Here are some advantages to getting started with Userlike:
- Secure, GDPR-compliant setup and advanced privacy features
- Automation and chatbots
- Scalability through efficient team features
- Extensive media support
- Easy WhatsApp template management
- Live chat with strong sales features and a WhatsApp button for your website
Simplify customer service and sales with the combination of WhatsApp and Userlike. You can request access to the WhatsApp API by reaching out to our support team via chat. We look forward to helping you get started with WhatsApp!