WhatsApp Business introduces new features for desktop and web apps. Source: Shutterstock

WhatsApp Business introduces new features for desktop and web apps. Source: Shutterstock

Can WhatsApp help you better engage with your customers?

STANDALONE app WhatsApp Business is making it even easier for its 5 million users to connect with their customers with new features on the desktop and web.

Launched just a little over one year ago, the Facebook-owned app is designed for small businesses to communicate with their customers over WhatsApp. The app allows users to set up profiles with business email addresses, operation hours, and location details.

“Using these features on a computer helps businesses save time and get back to their customers quickly. We’re excited to keep growing WhatsApp Business and introducing new features that make it easy for customers to find and engage with businesses that are important to them,” the app company said in their blog.

Previously, tools to organize and filter chats were unique to the Android mobile version of the app only. These popular, easy-to-use features are now available on the desktop and web app too.

Another feature that will be ported over to its desktop and web app is Quick Replies. The feature will be welcoming news to business owners as it allows them to automatically respond to common customer inquiries with predefined replies.

Similarly to Saved Replies that Facebook launched for its Pages users several years ago, the automation feature saves businesses time on frequently asked questions and personalized greetings that welcome as well as introduce new products and services and ‘away messages’ to ensure customers do not expect immediate replies to their inquiries.

With the new WhatsApp Business desktop and web app features that are rolling out today, Cliff Leong, ‘ana tomy’ Founder told Tech Wire Asia that he would favor WhatsApp Business over Facebook Messenger.

“Anything that is able to bring personalization closer with customers will be good for business. It’ll be more accessible, but on top of that, it will also help us improve engagement and customer experience.”

Leong furthers that communicating with customers on Facebook Messenger could be challenging at times as Facebook is primarily a social media platform whereas WhatsApp is solely a messaging platform.

Forbes reported that people spend 85 billion hours in WhatsApp and 30 billion hours on Facebook in a span of three months.

2018 was a rough year for Facebook from Cambridge Analytica scandal smearing its name in headlines since the 1st quarter to bugs after bugs that affected privacy settings of 14 million users in June and again in July. Another breach occurred in October compromised 30 million users‘ personal information.

The bad press spurred the #DeleteFacebook movement which garnered extensive media coverage.

On the other hand, WhatsApp had an eventful year in 2018 with introductions of useful features throughout the year as well as starting 2019 strong by making clear their stance on tackling fake news.

Now, they roll out the new features on its desktop and web app.

The New York Times reported that Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg has plans to integrate the messaging infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger in another year’s time by end of this year or early 2020.

Zuckerberg once pledged to keep Instagram and WhatsApp independent (acquired in 2012 and 2014 respectively by Facebook Inc).

The merge may look like checkmate to the antitrust regulators that are allegedly trying to reverse the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, but University of Michigan law professor Daniel Crane differs.

“As a matter of antitrust law, that doesn’t really have any impact, and how Facebook chooses to organize its wholly-owned entities is not an antitrust issue,” Crane comments. “The bigger question is how Facebook was allowed to own three media outlets in the first place.”

The integration would reconfigure how the platforms function for consumers as an ecosystem as well as how businesses could repurpose communication with their customers and retarget their database reach.

Business users should note that the expansion of infrastructure within the apps would likely reflect in increased ad buy costs and other investments in targeted services.