The Facebook-owned messenger, WhatsApp appears to have decided to generate revenue by business AP. Whatsapp now allows your business to connect with your users over Whatsapp by using their business API.
Lets have a look how business can interact with customers using whatsapp business API in a revolutionary way.
Companies can integrate whatsapp business API to communicate with customers on end-to-end encryption between sender and receiver. Phone number need to be verified with whatsapp either via SMS or voice. Upon verification, Companies can create a brand profile Through the WhatsApp Business API that lists essential information like the business email, contact number, website url etc.
Business API users are identified in two different types End-client and solution provider. End-client is a company who want to use business API to connect with their own customers and solution providers are companies who provide whatsapp API integration solutions to other companies. Whatsapp has introduced a template based system with manual approval to avoid spam content and ensure customers will receive only informative messages via whatsapp business API.
What Businesses can achieve out of WhatsApp Business API ?
A secured communication:
1. Notifying customers:
Whatsapp has largest user-base world wide and its growing day-by-day. It looks really beneficial for companies to integrate whatsapp API in order to reach people. Companies can send alerts and notifications to users such as order information and delivery along with rich text and media using a secured as well as spam-free experience.
Pre approved templates for outbound messaging will ensure that whatsapp messages will not be used for marketing purposes as templates are manually verified. API can send un-verified messages with in 24 hours of user’s latest response. Templates will again come into picture, If messages is being sent without users response or with in this time.
Also a cost will be involved for sending outbound messages to users using whatsapp business api integration and it will be a-bit higher then a normal sms text message. However there is no charges for sending messages for 24 hours upon user response.
Here are some common use-cases where businesses make use of whatsapp business API:
- Registration confirmation to new user.
- Sending order information and delivery updates.
- Reminders about events and upcoming tasks.
- Sending bills and invoices as attachments.
- Sending links and navigation to customers.
2. Customer Support:
Whatsapp business can be used to address customer queries easily as whatsapp is capable of transferring files & media from both sides. You can have integration with many popular CRMs, your in-house built CRM and chat software to get integrated with your users direly to provide a seamless customer support.
Business can make use of whatsapp to respond user’s frequently asked questions with pre-defined texts just like a chatbot. This can address common queries by customers but there can be complicated questions which need human integration and manual replies.
Global engagement: Whatsapp business made it is for global brands to get engaged with customers all over the world. You can showcase your brand identity globally with specific information such as contact number, communication email and social media links which will help you to be a reliable source to your direct consumers . Users can request information like order confirmation, delivery update, insurance certificate on whatsApp messenger without any geographic bound.
Companies can integrate their custom APIs with whatsapp to enable new booking and purchases directly on whatsapp. You can also share purchase invoice details & payment URLs to receive payments from all over the globe. With whatsapp business api integration you make your business reachable to the worlds largest and feature rich messaging application.
3. Customer Feedback:
Customer setisfication is an important factor in business success and whatsapp business api can be great source for the same. customer feedback will help you to improve your product and services by understanding customers needs and expectation closely. Here Whatsapp provide the most secure and instant channel to capture customer feedback and enhance customer experience.
Technical Steps of WhatsApp Business API Integration:
So far, we have checked about whatsapp business api and its advantages for companies. Let have a look about technical prospects to start API integration:
Whatsapp need really complicated technical setup for its business API integration as it make use of container platform docker with option to host on-premise or on AWS.
1. Setup business name and phone number:
You can use mobile number, landline number or any other number which is cappable to receive sms or voice message for verfication. If your number is IVR enabled, you will not be able to use it for whatsapp business. Alternatively, if your number is already registered you can continuoue using it.
Login into facebook business manager and add “WhatsApp Account” under “Business settings”, Enter business and input other details like account type, admin role etc and save changes. Verified business name has a limitation of 256 chars.
2. Getting authentication token:
You need to register for whatsapp business api client to get authentication token. Here is whatsapp official API https://developers.facebook.com/docs/whatsapp/api/account on facebook to get registered and get auth token. Initially you can use any api client like postman to use these APIs.
3. Set Up Environment:
Whatsapp business api run on container platform docker. While environment setup for whatsapp api integration, The most significant part you keep in mind that it works with docker on any internet powered machine. Your server and docker infrastructure may depend on your usage and frequency of messages. I recommend a decent server from digital ocean or aws with at-least 8 GB RAM. My recommendation is digital ocean as its developer friendly, community rich and cost effective with compare to AWS.
On database side, you can use MySql and Postgres database to store whatsapp business API data. You should keep database on a separate server and coreApp / webapp on a different container. Your application / docker instance and database instance must be on same network to avoid latency.
4. Testing & Configuration backup:
Once setup is done, test your installation configuration by sending communication to your personal whatsapp number. But before sending any sms from whatsapp business api, do not forget to send one messages from your personal number to your business number. This will allow whatsapp business API to send any kind of message till 24 hours of last message sent.
Now, try to send message from business API to your personal number. if you receive message means your API integration is successful. Alternatively, you can test Business API client set up using WADebug tool.
Backups are always helpful to restore if something goes wrong. Create a backup of working WhatsApp Business API client, it will help you to restore this configuration to any other machine.
5. Using Message Templates :
Outbound messages require to setup message templates which is manually approved to ensure rich user experience. Templates are nothing but messages which you want to send to your customers and are mainly helpful to avoid spam content. However users can also mark content sapm on first message received. Also users will have an option of blocking number if business / template is not verified. A tipical message template will look like “Dear ABC, Thanks for registration with our company”.
6. Using Webhooks (callbacks) :
If you want to process incoming messages from your customers, You need to setup callback URL which is known as webhooks. These callback URL are to process incoming messages with media and message status sent by whatsapp. You can use webhook sample code to use it with whatsapp business api integration.
Incoming messages can not be processed without webhook as call back request will not get served. Webhooks configuration highly recommended to deliver timely notification and out-of-band errors. You can test webhook by tools available in admin account of business manager.