WhatsApp Business API
Government agencies are under increasing pressure to digitization their services, including their interaction with customers. WhatsApp for Business API can automate much of the interaction with citizens and residents, and can do so at a much lower cost than SMS or call centers, helping to reduce costs at a time when public bodies are under increasing pressure to reduce budgets.
In March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic spread worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a covid information service on WhatsApp.
WHO decided to use the messaging service, which has already been widely used, instead of creating a dedicated app because it wanted to maximize its reach.
They were allowed to provide multilingual support – initially launched in 15 languages – and a list to guide users through available information. WhatsApp also offered the organization the option of issuing guidelines in rich media formats, including graphs and video.
WHO’s decision to launch WhatsApp highlights why other government agencies find it useful.
WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging service worldwide, with more than 2 billion users around the world. In the Gulf region, up to 80% of the population uses WhatsApp.
Government agencies and public agencies, like any other institution, must go through the process of applying for WhatsApp Business API. WhatsApp’s terms and conditions do not allow political participation – because they prohibit promotional notices from private companies – so the communications strategy must be based on services that will help citizens and residents.
Users must subscribe to WhatsApp, so it’s not appropriate as a primary way to issue public alerts in the way sms or automated voice calls can be used.
However, it provides many other options for sharing information, and the application process includes visual verification so that users can make sure that the information comes from an official source.
Government agencies will generally see two forms of WhatsApp interaction with citizens and residents. The first is notifications sent by the Agency, and the second is when citizens and residents communicate with the Agency for information.
Why government institutions should use WhatsApp Business API
Alerts and notifications
Messages are usually sent using templates, which are previously approved by WhatsApp and must be based on an interaction between your organization and the customer.
The exactly appropriate type of notifications will largely depend on the section, but can be grouped into broad categories – notice that the document is about to expire, that payment is due, expected documents are available for collection or delivery, or a declaration of receipt or payment of documents.
For example, the road agency may warn the driver that his or her annual car license, or driver’s license, requires renewal, with information on how to do so — possibly a link to a website — and a suggestion that the driver respond if he needs more information. The residence department may allow someone to know that their residence visa is due to be renewed.
Because WhatsApp Business API integrates seamlessly with existing databases and background systems, this notification can be automatically sent to a pre-set operator — renewal notices may be sent one or six weeks before the renewal date, giving people time to prepare their documents that need renewal support, for example, to ensure that the renewal process goes smoothly.
The client’s approach is likely to be handled first through chat bot.
People approaching government agencies are likely to look to report a problem or find information. A well-designed chatbot will make both processes easy.
Requests for information may guide customers through your application procedures, make payments, report problems, or general information such as social spacing.
Due to WhatsApp’s interactive multimedia capabilities, you can provide information such as a video, PDF file, or chart instead of text. You can even send customer application or renewal forms to fill out on their phones, or a link to an online app.
Complex queries may go beyond the conversation robot’s capabilities to answer them, even if chat bot is smart, and it’s a good practice to plan a smart delivery to a human agent if the enquirer can’t find the information they’re looking for quickly.
If the call center is under pressure, it is also possible to move customer queries from the call queue to WhatsApp chat – the system will check whether customers are using WhatsApp on their phone before offering the switch option. This person will not only help handle their query quickly, but will also reduce the total length of the queue.
Shopping, Payments, and Customer Service on WhatsApp