Yesterday I was traveling from Bangalore to Chennai. Suddenly I was unable to send/receive WhatsApp messages. Initially, I thought there was no phone signal, but soon realized that it’s not a network problem, but Facebook, Insta, and WhatsApp are down.
The outage knocked every corner of Mark Zuckerberg’s empire offline on Monday. The company’s family of apps effectively fell off the face of the internet at 11:40 am ET, but what was Facebook's response? Just a simple tweet :-) saying- “working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”
We know millions of businesses around the world depend on Facebook's products and services to stay connected with their customers, but when the entire empire went down yesterday there was basically no one to support these businesses because Facebook doesn't have a support team to help businesses.
Although these apps are great for communicating with friends and family, there are many reasons why using these apps for business communication is a very bad idea.
Here are just a few.
Let me tell you a story first.
A farmer had a donkey, it used to help him carry loads of straw from his field to home every day. On the way home, he saw a wagon being carried by two horses. He bought the horse. Now the farmer has a donkey and a horse. He wants to use both horse and donkey to pull the wagon.
Now replace farmer with Mark Zuckerberg, the donkey with FB, and horses with WhatsApp & Insta.
Let's come to the point! When we launched Jikoo.io, a conversational ticketing tool that can be embedded into any website to chat with the website visitors, we also added a plugin/add-on for WhatsApp, as there was a lot of excitement among our customers around WhatsApp.
Sharing our experiences with the WhatsApp Business API as we onboarded these customers. Customers had to go through a cumbersome, confusing, and non-transparent process to get started:
Problems with getting the API approved:
WhatsApp Business API account is different from WhatsApp for Business app that you can install from Apple AppStore or Android play store.
- For business API approval, customers need a proper website and Facebook Business Manager approval apart from having a legally registered entity.
- Once Facebook Business Manager approval is ready businesses have to approach the intermediaries such as Twilio, Messenger Bird, etc apply for the API approval.
- Facebook would take weeks to approve/reject the request. When the request is rejected no explanation is given. To make things worse, there is no chat or phone support available.
- Request for WhatsApp business is rejected for genuine companies citing improper business practices clause. For example, FB rejected the application of a popular Indian health supplement provider’s request citing the “improper business practices” clause.
Problems during implementation:
If you are lucky you can complete the process in a month’s time. We are not done yet, there are a number of problems you may face once your WhatsApp Business API number is live.
- Every template message (you can only initiate a chat with your customers by sending a template message) shall be approved by FB. Because of this you cannot send customized messages you like to your customers directly. You will be charged for these messages (for several countries the charges that are applicable are not clearly published).
- Whatsapp calls the intermediaries as partners (Twilio, Messagebird). You have to pay for the messages to the partner company on top of Whatsapp as they are acting as a gateway to process Whatsapp messages.
- You cannot transfer/migrate your number from one partner to another. If you need to add a new number then you pay extra.
Think twice before using Whatsapp for Customer Support
Companies that care for customer experience should not go with WhatsApp due to below reasons:
- Even though you have a website, your users will interact with you through WhatsApp, you are losing an opportunity to interact with your customer directly from your website and improve time spent on site.
- Customer support using WhatsApp is not great because of a variety of restrictions placed by FB. You cannot respond to a customer if you don't respond within 24 hours of the query. In fact, you need a crash course of 30 days before starting with WhatsApp API.
- You are dependent on too many players a) WhatsApp b) Partners c) SaaS tool for customer support. Perfect setup for failure.
- Your business may suffer interruption due to the ban on WhatsApp by some countries.
- Above all, if your customers cannot reach you because of an outage like yesterday, you cannot hold anyone accountable.
Whilst individual professionals might be excused for not understanding the risks of using WhatsApp, or other consumer messaging apps, for work, it is becoming increasingly hard for businesses to ignore the risks.
As Facebook integrates WhatsApp with Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook, and brings ads to WhatsApp, it becomes clear that moving away from Whatsapp is one of the best business decisions to take in 2021.
Jikoo: A fast, modern Alternative to WhatsApp for Customer Conversations
Jikoo is a conversational ticketing platform powered by no-code chatbots to help go-to-market teams serve customers faster and deliver personalized customer experiences in real-time.
Join us on a platform that is purpose-built for modern GTM teams to establish rich conversational experiences with their customers.
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Contact us if you want to know more or have any questions.