WhatsApp has announced it is developing new features to make it better-suited for businesses – both big and small.
Building for Businesses
WhatsApp had made it clear last year that it was looking to make its tools more business-suitable, telling its customers that it wanted “to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you too, while still giving you an experience without third-party banner ads and spam.”
This week, they announced a test phase for new business tools.
“We’re building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks. These businesses will be able to use our solutions to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates.”
The company says that WhatsApp is already used by many businesses and their customers, but that currently, this communication is “rudimentary.” However, it’s feedback from these early business users that’s proving useful as WhatsApp develop new business tools.
“We’ve heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone, and from people who are unsure about whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic. In the coming months, we’ll be testing new features that aim to solve some of these challenges and make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp. Our approach is simple – we want to apply what we’ve learned helping people connect with each other to helping people connect with businesses that are important to them.”
Easy and Secure Communication
WhatsApp said businesses “want an official presence – a verified profile so people can identify a business from another person – and an easier way to respond to messages.”
They have already rolled out a green badge system that indicates they’re verified, that the phone number of the contact belongs to a business account – and reminded customers that they can block businesses if they don’t want them to get in contact. Last year they announced they’d rolled out end-to-end encryption, meaning all messages were encrypted by default.
“Whether someone is communicating with a business around the corner or around the globe, people expect WhatsApp to be fast, reliable, and secure. We’ll be listening carefully to feedback during our test phase and keeping people informed as we make these tools more widely available. It’s important that we get this right and are thoughtful about the new experiences we’ll provide for businesses and our users,” said the company in its announcement.
Interested in testing out WhatsApp’s new business tools? It’s running a closed pilot program, but you can take their survey in the hope of being a test subject if and when the company extends the testing program – but it warns there’s no guarantee you’ll get early access.