May 5, 2020
WHATSAPP AUTO RESPONSES: How to avoid leaving your customers hanging
These messages, pre-approved templates from WhatsApp Business, in addition to making sure no one is left unattended, also allow you to build a rapport with your customers and help businesses introduce themselves by managing their first impression. Here's how to use them.
When I was young and lived with my siblings in my parents' house, one of the slightly ridiculous things I found fun when I got back to our apartment was listening to the messages on our answering machine.
Usually my parents weren't expecting anything that important. That's probably why they let us press play on the cassette. Yes, cassette, answering machine--I'm dating myself, but this article isn't about me or my analog childhood.
What my siblings and I were really hoping for when we played the messages was the voice of my grandfather. He used to get angry about having to talk to a machine. Of course, he could have just hung up, but he didn't. He got angry that we weren't home and would leave recorded insults and ridiculous questions. "Where are you? What are you doing? Why do I have to talk to a machine? Pick up!"
Every weekend was the same. Back then we didn't have cell phones, and couldn't even have imagined instant messaging applications.
Thinking back on it now, I can't understand my grandfather's anger and his diatribes. After a couple of beeps, he heard his grandchildren's voices explaining that if he left his name and number we would call back as soon as we returned.
But I suggest we think about this situation another way. My grandfather clearly called with a specific objective: to talk to one of the people who lived in my parents' house. A recorded message, an automatic response, told him hat we weren't there, that if he left his name and number we would contact him when we got back.
What I suggest is that we think of my grandfather as a customer who wanted to contract a service or buy something. No representative of the business--our house-- was available to help him, but an automatic response asked for his information to contact him later.
We are no longer in the analog era. We have fortunately left behind artifacts like the answering machine in the image above. Today companies have other tools to provide the best service to their customers.
WhatsApp Business, in fact, has an ideal tool for making sure no customer is neglected. That's what this article is about: WhatsApp Business auto replies, the key for companies to provide the best customer service, build trust, and avoid losing customers by not answering their questions and keeping up with the urgency of their needs and concerns.
WhatsApp (and WhatsApp Business), the best way to stop losing customers by neglecting them
I understand that there's not much of a risk in guessing that you use WhatsApp. Nor if I say that practically all your company's clients are too.
In fact, around the world more than 1.6 billion people use the main messaging app, according to a 2020 study by Hootsuite and WeAreSocial.
To understand the worldwide penetration of WhatsApp a little better, you just need to understand that they are on smartphones in 138 countires, almost double their closest competitors.
In these times there are also many businesses taking advantage of WhatsApp Business. What's that? The leading messaging app themselves make it clear on their website: "It's a free app for companies and small businesses." Available for iOS and Android, it is simply the WhatsApp platform with special characteristics to collaborate with companies' management and communication.
Among the characteristics of the business version, the pre-approved templates stand out. These are specific WhatsApp messages that companies use to send notifications or respond to clients who have opted in to receiving messages. They can be shipping information, payment updates, or simply reminders, as needed.
They are WhatsApp-approved messages that are very useful helping businesses like yours make sure they don't leave clients waiting for a response.
Just put yourself in the place of someone who decides they don't want to cook one Sunday. You pick up your phone and messages a pizzeria to order a pizza. The hands on the clock spin. It's night and you have to get up early on Monday. Five, ten minutes pass. Everyone has their tolerance zone, and once your patience has run out, there are many other options for ordering a pizza.
The customer, now tired, hungry, and needing to get up early the next day, will end up switching to a pizzeria who will answer his message. The business who was his first option won't see his message until he is already eating, if at all. And simply because they didn't respond fast enough, they will have lost a customer!
On top of that, the owner of that pizzeria will have lost a sale, or what's more, a customer, simply because they don't have an appropriate tool for all the order messages they get.
With automatic replies from WhatsApp Business no business will have to face a situation like this. In the current marketing era, the era of conversations, the familiarity with which people can contact a company to get information or obtain goods or services is key.
Greeting Messages and Away Messages: the key to answering all your messages
Greeting messages are are instant responses that are very useful for companies to make themselves known to customers: introduce themselves and talk about what they want the customer to know.
One of the main advantages of this type of message being automated comes along with this. This way the introduction isn't left to a salesperson or agent who has to do this same task infinite times in a workday.
When these messages are configured, it is no longer the agent who is talking to the customer. Companies who use them can have better control over the first impression they want to give their clients. That way this process isn't at the mercy of an agent's good or bad day, whether they are tired, distracted, or make a mistake. Let's see how...
In this example message I have just founded ACME Clothes, a casual clothing line for a family audience. I chose a plain, direct tone to kick off the conversation with the customer.
As CEO of my fictional business, I saved a lot of time and resources not needing to train agents to understand the informality that ACME Clothes needs to transmit, the unstructured, direct tone to use to welcome and converse with customers, the same impression that marks the clothing we produce. Of course, I could have chosen another tone:
In this case, in another phase of my brand, I opted for a more formal impression. A more serious tone. More than the different ways of addressing the customers, what I want to show you is the option to determine how I want my business to be presented.
Where I'm going with this is the fact that I can control the voice and tone of ACME Clothes, just as you can for your company. And in case I'd like to add more information, I can ensure that customers get all the information I think they should have on this first approach. Of course, you can do the same with a Greeting message for your business and your customers.
As I mentioned, there are also Away messages. These messages can be key for adjusting customer expectations and communicating about schedules. In these times of e-commerce, service practically don't exist anymore. Questions come in at all hours, and often don't get a response because nobody receives them in the moment. There is no instant response.
To avoid leaving clients unanswered, at ACME Clothes, we use Away messages this way:
That way, the client doesn't just receive a response, and doesn't just contact us via WhatsApp, but they now know our hours. This helps ACME Clothes build trust with their clients, avoids losing them, responds to them, and gives them the automated message with the information they want the customer to have.
Both Away and Greeting messages are free messages. This means that because they are responses to messages received on WhatsApp they can be sent without any authorization from the app.
The third type of reply I listed above are Greeting Messages for other sources. These are welcome messages for messages coming from sources other than WhatsApp.
To give an example and make things more clear, let's go back to my fictional business, ACME Clothes. A good part of my business's sales come through e-commerce. Since at ACME we work with the official WhatsApp Business integration with Sirena, we respond via WhatsApp. Like this:
Once again, with this type of response, at ACME Clothes we don't leave customers unattended, and we talk to them where they talk to us. We respond automatically as soon as we receive their message.
Unlike when a client initiates a conversation with you, the initial messages you send aren't free, meaning that the message must be a template pre-approved by WhatsApp, as I showed in the recent example. This is becuase we are responding to a message received in another app using WhatsApp.
Automatic responses, an upgrade for WhatsApp Business and customer service
At Sirena, we have been working to help businesses optimize their performance and their client management via WhatsApp by establishing a different type of conversation.
Based on the experience of businesses that have been using WhatsApp along with us, we have discovered that almost 80% of customers who approach them via non-conversational channels respond when they are sent a pre-approved WhatsApp template (yes, like ACME Clothes' customers 😜).
We've concluded, then, that automatic responses using WhatsApp templates satisfy a need. That's why we developed this new functionality, which leverages message templates by automating them.
We have seen businesses grow that had "outgrown" WhatsApp Business and that knew how to make use of the development of automatic replies to keep up with their clients' demand.
Of course, there are also companies who don't use the automatic replies from WhatsApp Business. They don't take advantage of the instant client management they provide or the optimization of information and tone control they bring, and they continue to choose to leave it in the hands of sales agents, without reducing costs at all.
These messages allow businesses to control the tone and information they present and introduce themselves (manage the first impression as much as possible), save you time and resources by avoiding the need to train employees to respond to all the customer messages and guarantee that the information they receive is aligned.
Just as you expect an instant response when you talk to a friend or family member on WhatsApp, auto replies fulfill one of the axioms of these time: respond instantly: incoming message, reply.