As chatbots are being used more often as an effective marketing tool, organisations have started taking a look at how they can take their marketing, branding and customer interactions to the next level using WhatsApp.
WhatsApp has become increasingly popular over the years, with about 2.5 billion users worldwide. It can be used as a platform to host bots used for business purposes, to transform the way that you interact with your customers. There is no question that if your organisation is interested in using a bot, they should look at hosting it on whatsApp.
There are many advantages to using a WhatsApp chatbot in your business. Some of these advantages include, the fact that it provides you with an easy way to engage with your customers straight from their go-to messaging platform, it allows for quick and simplistic interactions with your customers allowing for shorter response times between you customer and your business. WhatsApp chatbots can also be used as a great marketing tool to lead your customers through your various product and service offerings, taking your customer on an automated sales journey. A benefit of using a WhatsApp chatbot is that WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption which ensures that any communication that takes place between your customers and your chatbot, is secure and protected.
Now that we know what WhatsApp chatbots are and some of their advantages, let’s take a look at a step by step guide as to how we can go about building our own WhatsApp chatbot. Before we can start building a WhatsApp chatbot, you are required to apply for a WhatsApp Business API with WhatsApp. The API makes it possible for you to communicate with your users using their phone numbers via the platform. It allows for messages to be sent that are compliant with WhatsApp’s guidelines. At the moment, WhatsApp Business APIs are approved primarily for larger enterprises thus making it an exclusive offering, however, over time the API will become more readily available to smaller businesses. You are required to submit an application for the API, once it is reviewed and approved you can start using it. While waiting for approval, there are platforms like Twilio that provide you with a sandbox environment to build a WhatsApp chatbot – allowing you to mimic chatbot interactions before using the actual API.
Building a WhatsApp chatbot is very similar to building a messenger bot, in that you need an aim or goal for your chatbot, what kind of use case you would like to solve and how you would go about building this bot. After determining the aim of your chatbot, you can establish its tone, greeting and feedback mechanisms when interacting with users.
You are then required to choose the application that you will build your chatbot in, these include platforms like Dialogflow, and Amazon Lex. These platforms will allow you to build out the functionality of your chatbot and code webhooks allowing your chatbot to interact with other APIs and external services, as well as perform smarter functionalities, such as, placing an order on an online store or making a reservation at a restaurant.
WhatsApp’s Business API requires you to choose a database that will host the WhatsApp Business Client API. This is to ensure secure communication between your customers and the Business API, so that the integrity of end-to-end encryption can be maintained. After building your chatbot, you can install your chatbot on a phone number and test it. You are required to choose a service provider that can provide your WhatsApp chatbot with a phone number so that it can interact with users.
As you can see, there are only a few steps required to get started with building a WhatsApp chatbot for your business. The only hindrance you may experience is waiting for approval for the WhatsApp Business API, however, this does not stop you from getting started with building out the functionality of your chatbot. Provide your customers with the convenience and accessibility that comes with a WhatsApp chatbot, and transform the way that you market yourself as a business using artificial intelligence.