How to WhatsApp your way into extraordinary customer service

Kelly  | 

More and more businesses have started using WhatsApp to provide customer service lately. In the spirit of meeting customers where they are, this popular messaging app is claiming its place alongside email, chat and other social media.

WhatsApp is hot – so hot that we at Casengo recently held a hackathon to develop a working prototype of a WhatsApp integration into our own multichannel customer service software, which had never been done before. We pulled it off, and we’re now being flooded with requests from companies that are keen on using WhatsApp more efficiently with Casengo!

But before you jump in to chatting with your customers using the new feature, spend a few minutes brushing up on the dos and don’ts of doing business via WhatsApp.

Do act like a professional on WhatsApp

If you use WhatsApp in your personal life, you’re probably used to swapping quips with your friends, using plenty of the many cute, fun and sometimes even mildly offensive emojis available, and taking the occasional attack of ‘fat finger syndrome’ in your stride.

When you’re representing yourself as a private individual, that’s not a problem. But when you’re representing your business, you’d better be professional. Your customer, though, is probably not at work, and is typing on his or her phone with the inevitable errors and abbreviations that go along with that. Don’t let this casualness fool you into thinking that it’s ok for you to be casual and chatty too. It’s not. And please, regardless of what the customer does, use capital letters and full stops.

Bear in mind that thanks to screenshots and Twitter, anything you say over WhatsApp is potentially a matter of public record just the same as it would be if you sent it via email. The same level of professionalism is called for.

Don’t be overly formal on WhatsApp

But here’s the thing. Yes, you’re still doing the same job, but the medium of communication has changed and you need to change with it. While you can’t be too casual, you can’t go too far the other way either. You don’t want to inadvertently make your customer feel like a hick by using overly formal language.

Think we’re asking too much? Well, online customer service is a role that calls for real writing skills and the ability to judge a customer’s mood and character online. Don’t let the traditionally low pay levels fool you into thinking that it’s a task that anyone could do.

(And if you were thinking of setting up a couple of macros for your WhatsApp sessions, be very careful. You don’t want people to think they’re chatting with a bot. Take a few extra seconds to compose a personal response.)

Do keep your responses short and fast on WhatsApp

Customers who chat on WhatsApp are possibly on the go, and almost certainly have a tiny screen to deal with – so keep your replies as short as you can. They must be easy to read at a glance. If your reply doesn’t fit on a smartphone screen, it’s too long.

Additionally, don’t spend too long crafting the perfect response to the query. You need to be fast – your customer has chosen WhatsApp because he or she doesn’t have all day. You need to be able to proofread on the go, but it’s inevitable that you’ll make the occasional mistake. Don’t sweat it. It’s better to have the odd typo go out to a customer than to be word-perfect and keep him or her waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

WhatsApp customer service is deceptively simple on the surface. Many of us are used to using chat in our private lives, so we think we know how it’s done. Using it in a professional setting is something else entirely, and even more so when your chat partner is not in professional mode. But with a bit of effort, you’ll be helping your customers like the pro you are – and on their preferred channel.