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What’s Up? WhatsApp…

23rd Apr 2014
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Businesses in 2014 are constantly looking at new ways to connect with their customers on a more one-to-one level and the popularity of social networking on the web has led to many changes and advancements in communication. However, the trend now is smartphones, and smartphone apps with primarily mobile technology and interfaces are trumping the old online logins in a big way…especially WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is the biggest trendsetter in mobile at the moment with over 450 million active users who are online and able to be contacted on their most personal mobile device at any moment. This number is higher than internet-based social networking platform Twitter and the number of new users signing up each day to that platform is dwarfed by the one million new users who choose to sign up with WhatsApp. This suggests a definite trend in how people are using their apps; rather than requiring an email based login code, WhatsApp and other apps like it take registration from the user’s phone number which is a feature many prefer - we all hate a tedious account verification process! But how does this boom affect brands and more importantly, customer service?

What’s the Appeal?
The thing people love about social media is that it’s public. The thing people hate about social media is that it’s public. Google made headlines recently releasing the news that they scan ALL Gmail emails. There was an outcry; despite our love of social media, our customers still value their privacy.

Therefore, why not use WhatsApp to manage your customer service? Care must be taken not to send out the wrong thing to the wrong contact on your phone list, but conversations are private. And instant. And easily accessible on the move. A somewhat unlikely candidate for businesses to employ to boost customer service perhaps, but a brilliant one none the less.

What’s The Bad?
One issue will undoubtedly be context. A veteran shopping for a new dressing gown won’t reach for their iPhone 5S and load up WhatsApp. For tech-savvy 30 somethings’ and teenagers though it’s fantastic. If these guys are your demographic, it’s a brilliant way to both bridge the provider/consumer relationship, AND get ahead of the game.

What’s The Conclusion?
The winning feature of WhatsApp is its ability to initiate immediate communication between business and consumers without a login. One of the main problems faced by businesses when it comes to online customer service is the faffing around with emails and log ins and customer accounts with complicated CAPTCHAs we can’t decipher. How many customers do we lose because of a complicated registration process? WhatsApp registers using your phone; there is no email log in. That’s new and that, I believe is where the value of WhatsApp is as a business tool.

What Else?
I spoke to a company that firmly advocates the online environment - in fact were the original online recruitment agency and pioneered the idea that you CAN offer a good customer service online.’s Anna Taylor says,

“We do things a little differently at RR. We don’t do sales, (we leave that to thousands of other recruitment companies); instead we focus on wowing clients and delivering a first-class customer experience online. This results in repeat business and volume referrals which is a major source of new business for us. Staying on top of customer service via mobile and trends is vital, without it, you’re missing a trick”

Customer service is vital, and as The Guardian reports here, smartphone apps when managed properly make it even better.


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