High on the agenda at Casengo

So you’ve decided to try WhatsApp as a way to support your customers. Fabulous! But before you actually dive in, you need to think through your options first. Consider the impact that this 1-to-1 channel might have on your specific organization. Chances are it might not have a big influence after all - but if it does, you’ll want to be prepared.

This blog post is an overview to help you through the various phases in your WhatsApp trial: thinking, preparing and launching. They’re all just as crucial. If you don’t want your customers to catch you stressed, slow and totally confused, don’t skip a phase.

Step 1: Thinking things through

Your stakeholder’s behaviour

Using WhatsApp isn’t the perfect solution for all of us. Before you get ahead of yourself and start implementing, there are a few stakeholders you need to consider.

Customers
Are your (potential) customers actually ‘on’ WhatsApp?
Chances are very high that they are. But they might also just be the rare exceptions: people in their eighties, for instance. However, don’t be too quick to assume that they don’t use it… Find out for certain first.

Your team
Does your team have the capacity to answer the questions from WhatsApp?
If your team is already way too busy to answer phone calls or answering emails, it might be better to postpone your WhatsApp initiative. Unless, of course, you think that adding WhatsApp will decrease the pressure off the phone and email channels.

How quickly can you follow up?
Because WhatsApp is such a personal channel, customers tend to have high expectations for getting their questions answered quickly. Aim for a quick resolution time: 1 hour max. And once you answer, you must follow up right away. You’re either in or you’re not.

Competitors
What are your competitors doing?
Being the first in your field to offer WhatsApp support can be great to trump competition. But if you’re not an early adopter, it won’t trump anybody. You’ll need to start using it to up your game and stay on par.

Your overarching goal

Ask yourself (and perhaps a peer - brainstorming is easier with a sparring partner) why you want start with WhatsApp in the first place. Pick one overarching goal and take it from there. What do you want to achieve? Faster service, more happy customers, or perhaps a revenue increase?

It’s important to keep this goal in mind whilst making decisions on all the required steps and tactics. Keep reminding yourself throughout the planning stage what you want to accomplish, and what you need to accomplish this. Also: get everyone on the same page before you take-off.

Consider the first weeks to be nothing but a trial: test the waters gently, gain experience and learn. As soon as you’re getting more traction, you can consider more specific metrics and adjusting your course accordingly.

Let's get practical

Even though strategizing and thinking things through is important, start getting practical very soon. What will you need to do before you can even think of making your WhatsApp number public to your customers and prospects?

Step 2: Get your team together

Assemble a WhatsApp team: decide who’s in charge of your overarching goal, and who will reply to queries quickly and efficiently. These are typically members of your customer service team who know how to handle 1-to-1 channels like email and phone. Some companies assign the WhatsApp channel to their social media team, but that often turns out to be a mistake, as social media is mainly about 1-to-many.

Step 3: Involve your team

Depending on the type of company you run, organize an introductory meeting or an actual brainstorm session. To get everyone on board, explain the benefits of WhatsApp, translate those benefits to fit your company and do not forgot to discuss the overarching goal. Do you want to shorten the phone queue? Or lower the email volumes? Or get your customer satisfaction rates up?

Step 4: Adapt the way you talk

For most people, WhatsApp is a relaxed channel, used to interact with friends, family and sometimes colleagues. You will notice that many people will use that same style of communication with you as they do with their friends. Depending on your company culture, you’ll want to respond in a similarly playful fashion (while keeping it professional).

If you already have a general style guide for your customer service team to follow, check if you need to make adjustments to fit the WhatsApp channel. This is no place to sound like a useless robot. Consider your rules around emoticons, preprogrammed messages, humour, etc. Make sure you’re all on the same page: giving the customer the best experience.

Step 5: Get a WhatsApp number

You’ll obviously need a phone number that your customers can use to reach you through WhatsApp. Two options here:

  1. Buy the cheapest pre-paid SIM card. Online or from a local telephone shop. Keep into account that some providers deactivate a simcard after 6 months of inactivity. Just use that number to have a call every 5.5 months, and you’ll be fine. (Add it to your calendar as a repeat action.)
  2. Get a phone number with a subscription. This is the more expensive option that gets you peace of mind: you won’t run the risk of disconnection.

If you’re offering international support with WhatsApp, you might want to consider getting different local numbers, depending on the type of company. Generally, this is more important in B2C than B2B.

Step 6: Think about voicemail versus call forwarding

Although your WhatsApp number is supposed to be used for WhatsApp support only, there is always the odd customer who decides to give you a call on that number. Depending on how you manage your messages (phone, software, web.whatsapp - see below), this can be problem. So if you’re not using a dedicated phone, you have two options:

  1. Record a voicemail to let people know which other number to reach you on.
  2. Install an automatic forward of incoming calls to a different number, for example your support line.

Step 7: Personalize your WhatsApp account

First add your company name, your logo, email address, URL etc. Then update your status, which is easier than it sounds.

A status update for business purposes should be a helpful description of what your company is doing on WhatsApp. You might want to add the “opening hours” of the WhatsApp channel, for instance. When are you available to respond to queries sent through this channel? Turn the default status (“Hey there, I’m using WhatsApp”) into something much more concrete.

A good status update, for instance, could be: ‘Need product advice? Happy to help from Mon-Fri 9:00-17:30 CET!’

If, later on, you have multiple WhatsApp numbers to involve different departments or query types, you might want to present different status updates for each number, making clear which number is meant for which type of questions. If, however, you have multiple WhatsApp numbers simply to cover a bigger volume, keep the status update identical.

Step 8: Manage your messages like a pro

There are three options to manage your incoming and outgoing messages:

  • A smartphone
  • WhatsApp Web (web.whatsapp.com)
  • Specialised software for WhatsApp support

Sometimes it’s perfectly possible to start testing WhatsApp support with just a phone. But depending on your company, that might not be feasible. There are four major factors to consider when deciding what the best option is for you:

  • How big is your team? If your company needs only one person answering customer questions through WhatsApp, a smartphone or WhatsApp Web will probably do the trick (at least in the beginning). If, however, your WhatsApp team needs to be bigger, operating from a phone and WhatsApp Web quickly turns into a bottleneck. Specialised software help multiple colleagues collaborate, forward conversations, assign conversations to the right colleague, etc.
  • How many incoming questions do you think you’ll be receiving? If the number of WhatsApp questions remain limited (say maximum 10 a day if you have more than 2 customer service people “on” WhatsApp - this number may vary), you could make do with the phone or WhatsApp Web. But you should get specialized software the minute you get stressed about volume. A large number of incoming questions soon makes WhatsApp an unmanageable channel unless you use professional software.
  • How many WhatsApp numbers do you manage? Lots of companies chose to have various WhatsApp number for various departments, products, brands, countries, etc. But whether you need software in this case, ultimately depends more on who manages the incoming messages and the volume of WhatsApp queries. If a single team manages questions from different numbers, then a multi-number solution will increase your efficiency a lot.
  • Do you need more advanced features? Although getting started quickly can be important to prove whether WhatsApp works for you or not, sometimes a more sophisticated approach is needed. If your manager or boss demands reporting functionalities, easier search abilities or centralised data with the rest of your customer data, specialised software will be your only way forward.

How do you know which WhatsApp support tool is the best?

Most software providers are ticketing systems that allow you to collaborate effectively as a team. But customer service is more than that. There are a few things you can look for in your customer service tool. After all: the more useful features the tool boasts, the easier it will be to rock ‘n’ roll.

  1. Pick a software provider with a helpful support team: Offering customer service through WhatsApp can be risky, mainly because WhatsApp doesn’t support an official API. An alert provider with a flexible and knowledgeable team helps mitigate some of those risks. Contact and compare several tool makers before making any sort of decision. Do you like them? Are they flexible? Do they keep their promises?
  2. WhatsApp-specific features: Many people use WhatsApp to send pictures and/or videos, so does the tool support that? Even if you’re not interested in that right now, keep your options open; you never know what your customer might want to in the future. Same goes for multiple WhatsApp numbers: make sure your tool can support various numbers within the same platform if you require it.
  3. Check if the tool offers quick responses & automated replies: You can take some workload off your back by using templates and automated replies. Careful though - this sounds more awesome than it is on WhatsApp specifically. As talked about before, WhatsApp is too personal a channel for quick response templates, that usually serve as a good basis for answering frequently asked questions. And automated replies can provide a warm welcome to customers “in queue”, but only if you’ve thought it through perfectly. However, if you use macros excessively, you may be triggering a block by either your customer or WhatsApp itself. Be careful.
  4. Connect other customer data: When testing whether WhatsApp is a viable channel for you, having all your customer data centralized might not be the most important piece of the puzzle. But if it is, check what the options are: do they have a native integration with your systems of choice, an open API or is there another easy way to export your data?
  5. Reporting and analytics: Just like connecting other customer data, don’t focus too much on reporting or analytics options just yet. WhatsApp is hard to measure. What matters is whether WhatsApp works for your customers and your business. At a later stage this can become more important.
  6. Message broadcasting option: Run away as fast as you can if the software provider keeps raving on about their message broadcasting feature. You do not want to use WhatsApp as a newsletter tool. Sure, it’s tempting - but withstand the enemy! You don’t want to risk a ban or a block because WhatsApp thinks you’re a notorious spammer.
  7. What about the smartphone? Another thing to consider: some providers require you to keep your “WhatsApp smartphone” (the smartphone with the SIM number used for WhatsApp support) active at all times. More expensive (but reliable) tools allow you to connect your number once to the system and be done with it.

A good place to start your quest for the ideal support tool for WhatsApp, is checking out Casengo’s WhatsApp support software and to sign up for a free trial.

Prepare for lift-off!

Now that you’ve ticked all the boxes of the preparation, you’re ready to get your WhatsApp hands dirty and start receiving questions.

Step 9: Let the world know you’re on WhatsApp

This is the most important aspect of whether you can gain traction on WhatsApp or not. If nobody knows you’re there, you’re wasting your time. So make sure you spread the word far and wide to both customers and prospects – but start slowly!

The most important place to start is adding your WhatsApp number to:

  • your ‘contact’ page on the website;
  • your email signature, especially of your customer support team or account managers (in B2B);
  • the footer of your newsletter;
  • your social media account profiles;
  • a pinned post on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin;
  • your homepage.

Be careful when adding your WhatsApp number to your homepage, though. Don’t just throw it on there if your website gets a lot of daily traffic. It’s smarter to show the number to a select part of your online visitors (say 10%), and gear up only to after gathering experience and insightful data. Know what you’re doing!

Besides these obvious starting points, get creative. You could, for instance, send an email to your customer base to inform them of the new support channel, develop a marketing campaign to position your WhatsApp service as a competitive advantage, use posters and flyers around your physical locations, etc.

Extra tip: When you share your WhatsApp number on your website, you can make it easier for your mobile visitor to make this clickable (by using a vCard). When the mobile visitors then clicks on the number, he’ll automatically download your contact details.

Step 10: Manage your customers’ expectations

Don’t forget to provide context and let your customers know what they can use your WhatsApp support channel for. Managing expectations is super important to prevent disappointment. No, people can probably not call you on the WhatsApp number, and you won’t be available for support 24/7. But this only becomes a problem if you haven’t communicated it clearly.

If it’s relevant to your line of business, don’t forget to mention that you won’t send or accept delicate personal information like bank account numbers or medical advice. Unfortunately, a recent report showed that WhatsApp does not do a good job protecting its data from government requests. So don’t share delicate data, and make sure your customer service team knows this!

Step 11: Consider integrating all of your contact channels

After you’ve tested WhatsApp and are getting satisfactory results, it’s a smart move to integrate it with your other channels (if you haven’t done that already). After all, customer service is at its best when it’s not the medium that counts, but the message and its sender. You’ll find that you’ll need specialized customer service software to get more context, paint a better picture and make the WhatsApp channel more scalable.




Steeds meer bedrijven zetten WhatsApp in voor zakelijke doeleinden. De ene groep doet aan reclame via WhatsApp (met verzendlijsten om enthousiaste berichten over sales en acties door te sturen). De andere groep gebruikt WhatsApp puur en alleen om persoonlijke, laagdrempelige, mobiele service te bieden aan klanten en andere geinteresseerde consumenten.

De ene groep ervaart regelmatig problemen met WhatsApp HQ; de andere veel minder vaak. Dat komt omdat klantenservice perfect past binnen de filosofie van WhatsApp. Co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton willen graag dat hun chat app alleen draait om vrienden, familie en collega’s. Centraal staan persoonlijke interacties - die beide partijen verwelkomen.

Maar zelfs bedrijven die WhatsApp inzetten voor klantenservice en dus eigenlijk niets verkeerds doen, ondervinden weerstand van Koum & co. Waarom? Dat is nog onduidelijk. De kans is vrij groot dat WhatsApp commerciele partijen afweert omdat ze zelf iets commercieels aan het bedenken zijn, waarmee ze geld kunnen verdienen.

Op de werktafel van CEO Jan Koum lag lange tijd een kattebelletje met daarop 6 woorden van WhatsApps mede-oprichter: ‘No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!’ Dit briefje hielp Koum om te focussen. Het herinnerde hem eraan dat WhatsApp populair was geworden dankzij het gebrek aan advertenties, en dat WhatsApp zo puur moest blijven. Tot op de dag van vandaag draait de app om 1-op-1 interacties, die beide partijen verwelkomen. WhatsApp werkt nu zelf aan een manier om commerciele partijen onderdeel te laten worden van de WhatsApp-populatie.

Tot het zover is, zullen ze tegenstribbelen en al de te actieve bedrijven blokkeren. Die ‘block’ kan zelfs permanent zijn, wat betekent dat je een nieuwe nummer aan WhatsApp moet koppelen en je hele klantenbestand van nul opbouwen. Gelukkig is het mogelijk om de radar van WhatsApp te ontwijken: door hun regels nauwelijks te schenden.

5 tips om onder de radar van WhatsApp te blijven

De lijn tussen wat voor WhatsApp acceptabel is en wat niet, is flinterdun en schimmig. Dus echt zonder risico’s is het nooit. Als je het vanuit het standpunt van WhatsApp bekijkt, is het lastig voor hen om te weten of je slecht bezig bent (klanten spamt), of juist goed (klanten helpt).

Bedrijven die WhatsApp succesvol willen inzetten, blijven dus maar beter weg van de grijze zones. Zelf geven wij de volgende tips aan onze klanten mee:

#1: Denk vanuit de klant

De makkelijkste manier voor WhatsApp om te weten of je spamt is dankzij gebruikers die aangeven dat dat zo is. De ‘rapporteer spam’-knop is er niet voor niets: als te veel van je klanten deze weten te vinden, lig je eruit. Let dus op wat je verstuurt en denk altijd vanuit de beleving van de klant.

#2: Gebruik geen automatische antwoorden

Met het gebruik van macro’s (automatisch voorgeprogrammeerde antwoorden) kun je soms tijd besparen. Maar als je dit op grote schaal doet, gaan de alarmbellen bij WhatsApp af, want vrienden versturen elkaar geen voorgeprogrammeerde berichten.

Als je per se macro’s wilt inzetten (om de klant te begroeten bijvoorbeeld), wijzig ze dan telkens lichtjes. En niet alleen om de WhatsApp-radar te ontwijken, maar ook om je klanten het gevoel te geven dat ze meer voor je betekenen dan een voorgeprogrammeerd zinnetje dat je even snel hebt geselecteerd.

#3: Neem zelf niet het initiatief

Mensen die je kent en met wie je WhatsApp-gesprekken voert, staan in je contactenlijst. Vanuit die gedachte is het voor WhatsApp dan ook niet logisch dat je berichten stuurt naar een groot aantal mensen die niet in je contactenlijst staat. Omdat die nummers niet in de lijst staan, lijkt het er namelijk op dat je die mensen niet kent.

De makkelijkste manier om dit probleem te vermijden, is door je klant de eerste stap te laten nemen. Hij heeft een vraag, jij antwoordt. Het initiatief neem je zelf nooit (behalve als het geen nieuwe conversatie is). Het gebruik van WhatsApp als een klantenservice-kanaal is op die manier volgens de regels: je beantwoordt gewoon de vragen van iemand die je al kent.

#4: Doe niet opdringerig

Als de liefde van je leven je berichten niet meer beantwoordt, dan weet je hoe laat het is. En zo kan ook je klant wat ruimte nodig hebben. Meerdere berichten blijven sturen terwijl je geen antwoord krijgt, is gewoon niet handig. Zeker niet als je dit op grote schaal blijft doen. WhatsApp is nu eenmaal een kanaal van persoonlijke interacties. En een interactie komt altijd van beide kanten, in tegenstelling tot social media als Facebook, Twitter en Instagram.

#5: Gebruik human behaviour software

Bedrijven die veel WhatsApp-conversaties voeren, versturen al snel meerdere berichten per minuut. Zeker als ze met meerdere medewerkers gebruikmaken van software om hun WhatsApp-berichten te managen. Hier dreigt het gevaar dat er berichten op exact hetzelfde moment - op de seconde na - naar een heleboel mensen worden verstuurd.

Waarom is dat een probleem? Een niet-zakelijke WhatsApp-gebruiker (met 10 vingers en een smartphone) zou dit natuurlijk niet kunnen. Daarom is het belangrijk dat de software die je gebruikt ook een “human behaviour”-algoritme heeft ingebouwd zodat het berichtenverkeer niet het menselijke overstijgt.

Heb je een groter volume van klantvragen en wil je toch sneller antwoorden, kijk dan eens naar Casengo. Onze software beschikt over een ‘human behaviour’ verzend-algoritme, wat inhoudt dat het WhatsApp-gedrag van Casengo-gebruikers absoluut niet robotisch aandoet, en daardoor veel makkelijker onder de radar blijft.

Journalist Hans-Lukas Zuurman wrote an interesting piece in one of Holland’s national newspapers today. He interviewed our very own Ron van Valkengoed about the number of online stores in the Netherlands. Even though our latest ‘Webwinkel Monitor’ (a whitepaper about Dutch online stores) was about 2014, we always enjoy sharing our knowledge and expertise about online sales and customer service…

A few insights taken from Zuurman’s piece:

  • Holland reached a tipping point: the country now has more online stores than brick ‘n’ mortar ones. It’s fair to say there are at least 100.000 online points of sale, as opposed to 99.000 physical shops.
  • In 2015, Casengo developed a program that mapped online stores and determined a few notable variables, such as the type of technology used, the website’s speed, the physical location of its owner. As Casengo’s Ron van Valkengoed explains: ‘That was a very time-consuming job, because we had to check all the results manually. We then contacted the main suppliers of online store software to crosscheck our findings with theirs. They said there were a lot more online stores than we counted, so our estimate is pretty conservative, to say the least.’
  • The biggest sales are made by the 200 biggest online stores, such as CoolBlue and Bol.com. Ron van Valkengoed: ‘This trend will definitely be continued in 2016. Today’s customers demand high quality and low pricing. They want to enjoy a relaxed shopping spree online, 24/7, with a large selection of goods to choose from and outstanding service, for instance through live chat or WhatsApp.’

More and more companies are discovering the benefits of Casengo’s WhatsApp integration. Take Dennis Jurgensen, co-founder of London based Tep Wireless. He uses our integration to stay on top of his game - a bit in the same way his customers use his product to stay on top of their game.

Tep, partnering with the biggest network operators worldwide, rents out pocket wifis to cool people who want to be online when abroad. The company has been offering customer service through WhatsApp for 6 months now. ‘We want our customers to be able to contact us in any way possible,’ Dennis explains. ‘With about a dozen WhatsApp conversations per day, the volumes aren’t particularly high yet, but it’s a great service to offer.’

At first, Tep used one of Casengo’s competitors. ‘It worked fine the first few months, but as soon as WhatsApp launched its web app, messages weren’t coming in. It became too unstable and too unmanageable for our 10-member customer service team.’

Casengo at first glance: check!

Tep tried a bunch of alternatives before finding us. ‘Casengo checked all the boxes and more. I started a 30-day trial, but when I opened the app for the first time, I was convinced.’ A few days into his 30-day trial, he swiped his credit card. ‘We were using Casengo as if we’d never used anything else before. This was what I’d wanted all along.’

Tep began using Casengo for WhatsApp customer service with 10 agents. ‘Today, I have 10+ agents, 2 to 4 at the same time, 24/7. It is so intuitive and organized, allowing us to deal with multiple chats. You can tell it was built by people with real customer service know-how.’

Upping the game with Casengo

Getting Casengo set up was a breeze, Dennis remembers, and the whole process took less than 8 minutes. ‘From the very beginning, porting my number over to you guys – from a competitor no less – couldn't have been more simple. My agents are now using Casengo collaboratively to reply to customers quickly and without fail.’

And if Dennis says “quickly”, he means business: if you send the Tep customer service team a question through WhatsApp, you’ll usually get a reply within a minute. Four minutes is the absolute maximum. ‘Sounds mad, but it’s actually easy to achieve when using Casengo’s WhatsApp integration.’

Dennis would indeed recommend Casengo to any business. ‘Any legitimate customer-centered business should be offering customer service through WhatsApp, and Casengo is the best in the game. It offers what no other company has been able to offer: a WhatsApp integration that’s not infuriatingly limited or unstable.’

So far, Tep only uses Casengo for WhatsApp conversations. ‘Obviously Casengo offers a whole lot more, like email and live chat, but quite frankly Casengo’s WhatsApp integration alone is worth the price of admission.’

Amen.

WhatsApp is hot. In early April, the company announced [800 million active users] (http://www.emerce.nl/cc?_r=/nieuws/whatsapp-bereikt-8miljoen-gebruikers) to have attracted, including over 9.5 million in the Netherlands . WhatsApp is also in the business segment increasingly popular. Good news for Facebook shareholders, but also for customer service managers: the interest and audience for WhatsApp customer service is growing by the day - also in the Netherlands!

Research firm MultiScope did study of more than 1300 Dutch consumenten the use of WhatsApp. Conclusion: 90% of smartphone owners use the app on active basis, and eight in ten Dutch have WhatsApp in the favorite dock or on the home screen.

Dutch WhatsAppers average daily receive 65 messages and send them there 30. Especially consumers aged 18 to 34 regularly use the application. And almost half of them communicates with companies like via WhatsApp.

No wonder companies are increasingly WhatsApp use as customer contact channel. Where this was back a couple of years especially reserved for large companies such as KLM and T-Mobile can now also medium and small batches easy to get started with easy and accessible applications such as Casengo.

The strength of support WhatsApp

The benefits of WhatsApp for Dutch companies are great:

  • WhatsApp supports pictures - and sometimes a picture says a thousand words. Better communication and customer service so!
  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, WhatsApp has a closed character. Conversations are therefore completely private.
  • WhatsApp is one of the most widely used communication channels in the Netherlands.
  • As a company, you stand literally in the friends list of your customer: You can not get more personal.

The growth and interest will only grow. Facebook has indicated they would like to attract 1 billion active users on WhatsApp. Will therefore be continued!

Also offer customer service to WhatsApp!

No experience with customer service WhatsApp? Experience now the positive effects of WhatsApp on your website conversion and customer satisfaction, and try it free! Easy to implement, and requires no technical knowledge. If you still need help, we are there on weekdays from 9:00 to 17:30 to you via email, live chat or telephone to advise without obligation. And WhatsApp support (+31 6 25586738) Of course we do!