WhatsApp continues to penetrate business market

More than a fifth (21%) of customer contact employees say that their organisation currently uses WhatsApp when contacting customers today. That’s according to a recent poll across four major European countries (UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands). The survey was carried out for the Customer Contact Radar report, commissioned by PeterConnects, a provider of communication software solutions for Cisco and Microsoft, and conducted by Survey Sampling International.

The proportion of employees using WhatsApp for customer interaction looks set to grow with just under a quarter of respondents across the whole sample (22%) ranking it among ‘communication channels/technologies’ that are planned to be added to their organisation for client contact, meaning that WhatsApp only trails behind web chat (28%) and video calls (23%) in this respect.

There are some significant national differences, however, in terms of WhatsApp’s ranking among planned communication channels/technologies. It is in first place in Netherlands and Germany. This compares to fifth in the UK and sixth in France, where there is nevertheless great potential for future growth.

WhatsApp may well also bring about changes in the nature of customer contact. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of overall survey respondents agree WhatsApp makes customer contact more informal. As a company, WhatsApp focuses more and more on the business market. The WhatsApp Business app was launched in the UK at the beginning of 2018. While the Customer Contact Radar report covered the use of WhatsApp in general, (not just WhatsApp for Business) for customer contact and client interaction the business version of the messaging app makes it easier for companies to connect with customers. In addition, it enables organisations to create a company profile and also makes it possible for them to automatically send messages about, for example, opening hours, waiting times or actions that are currently available.

Lucas de Clercq, CEO of PeterConnects and initiator of the Customer Contact Radar study, says: “The research results support what we are hearing from the market: expectations for WhatsApp as a means of customer contact are high. We are already seeing a number of early adopters, such as large retailers and airlines confirming packages and flights and also answering customer questions via the app.

“Moving forwards,” continues de Clercq, “a key challenge that businesses will face in this area is making all customer information available, so that it is immediately evident who the customer is and why he or she is seeking contact. In other words: provide relevant context to communication. It is clear that WhatsApp is another new customer contact channel that employees have to get used to, because more and more customers expect to be able to reach a company through multiple channels.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine