WhatsApp inbound for inbound communications

8 March 2023

What do we call Inbound communications in WhatsApp?

In the specific context of WhatsApp, we identify as inbound communications those initiated by the client or end user, in which the company acts as the recipient.

This interaction initiated by the client opens a 24-hour window during which the company can come into direct contact with the user, outside of a temporary space, it will be considered a new conversation and must start as a outbound communication through WhatsApp templates.

Inbound messages are not free in WhatsApp business

WhatsApp will charge the company for messages received, just as it charges for messages sent. When the user starts the conversation, the company has 24 hours to end the conversation before receiving a new charge for this interaction. If 24 hours pass, the company must use one of its pre-approved templates to start a new conversation. Note, the cost of inbound and outbound messages is not necessarily the same.

This method of charging per conversation may differ if you use the WhatsApp API through a third-party service, which may imply billing per message.

WhatsApp for customer service

As we have seen when reviewing the history of this platform , in its first experiences WhatsApp opted for a reactive use of WhatsApp Business, that is, that the client or end user is the one who initiates the conversation.

WhatsApp is, above all, an instant messaging tool, and although information travels in real time, the main advantage is that it allows effective asynchronous communications.

Other contact modes such as Voice and Video, which have been incorporated later and still represent a small fraction of the communications in this channel (the ratio is 1 call per 1000 messages), and are far from the numbers of the large traditional operators .

Therefore, the majority integration strategy of WhatsApp in customer service processes stems from a special interest in integrating instant messaging into the contact center workflow.

1 voice call per 1000 messages (+)

Inbound voice calls

Depending on the technological option chosen to use WhatsApp Business, there may be important differences.

While those companies that use WhatsApp Business App, will not experience any limitation when the user makes a voice call to a brand using WhatsApp, and as between private users, it will always be a call free (at least for the client, for the brand it will be a new conversation); in the case of opting for an integration via WhatsApp Business API it will be different.

Business using WhatApp Business App

Through the API, it will not be possible for the company to receive video or voice calls, in fact the call button will disappear from the company’s profile, preventing users from contacting using these modes of communication.

Business using API

Taking into account that the most direct way of integrating with systems such as CRMs or Contact Center Software will be through API, either directly or through a BPS, the use of voice or video via WhatApp and integrated with business applications does not It is viable today.

WhatsApp call deflection

What some of the contact centers that use WhatsApp are looking for is precisely to download the weight of telephone calls to a more scalable channel, and with rich multimedia possibilities. This strategy is known as whatsapp call deflection, and its objective is, through an IVR, to enroll the user in a WhatsApp conversation.

Obviously, this strategy can cause friction that makes users give up trying to contact the company. Each business must assess the risk/benefit balance of this practice, with the general recommendation being to serve the user through the same channel that they initially used.

Management by agents and contact center teams

Con la versión premium de WhatsApp Business (no disponible en España) es posible asignar mensajes a un agente y consultar en el futuro qué agente respondió dicho mensaje, pero al utilizar el mismo número de teléfono, el cliente no sabrá con quién está hablando, salvo que el agente se lo indique expresamente.

Para estrategias de enrutamiento más avanzadas necesitarás utilizar alguna solución de Contact Center, Help Desk, o CRM que integre WhatsApp como canal. También será una solución de terceros la que te permita documentar los casos, compartir información con otros trabajadores, mantener un log de acceso a la información de los clientes, etc…

Limitación de números de dispositivos vinculados

For each phone number you can have up to 4 devices (10 from the premium version, linked through the version WhatsApp website). That is, on paper you could have 4/10 people sharing the same account at the same time. But this implies assuming some practices that are not recommended and an obvious risk of exposing the conversations to all the staff with access to one of the 10 linked devices.

Although you don’t have to keep your phone online to access WhatsApp Business from paired devices, if you don’t access the WhatsApp app on your phone within 14 days, all paired devices will be disconnected. Also, if the phone is not connected, you will not be able to access the entire history of the conversation. Each type of client (web, desktop, mobile) has a different chat history storage capacity. This asymmetry puts another relevant fact on the table, which distances it from a professional business communication solution, which guarantees the continuity of conversations on any device.

WhatsApp integrated into websites and e-commerces

Indeed, there are different alternatives to integrate WhatsApps on your website or ecommerce, but we must not lose sight of the fact that. WhatsApp Business does not prioritize integration with ecommerce so much as its replacement as a sales channel.

The focus of WhatsApp Business is e-commerce, its roadmap is clearly aimed at moving the sales process to its platform.

The focus of WhatsApp Business is electronic commerce, its roadmap is clearly aimed at transferring the sales process to its platform (bridging the gap, similar to WeChat in China), proof of this are features such as “WhastsApp Business API buttons”, “payments”. “WhatsApp webpage”…

In an omnichannel context, we should not be alarmed, it is a movement that we have already seen on other platforms, but we must take it into account, since in a certain sense we are shifting attention from a channel controlled by the seller to another on which they have little ability to influence. Is it possible to build an immersive brand experience on a standardized platform? Although it is not impossible, it is not easy to establish a differential value in this context either.

Button “Chat on WhatsApp”

In this modality, WhatsApp works as a live-chat but has some limitations, if we compare them with specific solutions for this purpose (eg Livechat) .

If the integration is done directly through the code offered by WhatsApp for the “click to chat” function, when the user clicks the button will be taken to another window, so that the continuity of the communication is broken and the context that triggered said conversation is lost.

Another possible friction is that  an active connection is required on the user’s device to be able to use this option. In the case of devices shared by several users, such as tablets or PCs, it is very likely that this communication cannot take place since the session has not previously started on that device.

Another integration option is to use third-party solutions, which act as a multi-channel hub, and usually offer a native chat, better integrated with the dynamics of the web, and present the user with a variety of options to connect with the company along with a series of of advanced management tools, as well as a history of user behavior on the site, which provides highly relevant context information.

Call links

Call links allow you to share a link with direct access to a call or video call. The main limitation is that it is not compatible with desktop devices, and that it requires the guest to have the application installed previously.

On the other hand, your telephone number is exposed, as well as the channel, to receive fraudulent calls that saturate the service, since there is no firewall or SBC that can filter these calls.

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