Is there any messaging platform that comes even close to the penetration enjoyed by WhatsApp in Kenya and Africa at large? WhatsApp recently developed a program with small business owners in mind aptly named, WhatsApp for Business. The app is free to download just like the first messaging app, but this one has a whole slew of features missing from ordinary WhatsApp.
Features of WhatsApp for Business
WhatsApp for business has numerous additional features including, the business which allows a person to manage their address, hours, and even link to a website. It has a section of messaging tools that allow you to customize an automatic response message. You’re able to welcome new customers with an automatic message and also customize quick replies to the most common questions you get. For a bookstore, for example, one of the common questions may be, is the book a paperback or hardcover? Do you deliver to a certain place and if so what is the cost of that? etc.
The customized replies save on time and allow you to craft a message that you then continue to use instead of quickly typing out a typo-filled text to a first time client. The messages section also has labels to organize by colour different chats and customers for ease of use. For example, if you run a bookstore and sell crisps as well. You could colour-code your book clients in blue and crisps customers in yellow and maybe those whose payments are pending in both groups in pink and so on. It’s a time and lifesaver.
WhatsApp for Business also has a catalogue which is by far the best feature. The catalogue manager allows people to showcase their products and services. Say for example you are an independent bookstore. You are now able to upload every single book with its respective picture, price and brief description and it allows you to upload so many products. It then makes it possible for you to group them into children’s books, fiction books, political reads etc. Then all you have to do is share the particular catalogue with the specific products of interest to a particular customer. It’s great because you always have your organized catalogue at hand and it’s so easy for customers to scroll through it and see everything you have to offer.
Steps for Joining WhatsApp for Business
There’s a case for trying out WhatsApp for Business for people running their businesses. It’s simply a matter of:
- backing up your current WhatsApp account.
- downloading the free WhatsApp account.
- synching your database to the new download.
- creating your profile.
- creating your catalogue.
- sharing it with the all and sundry.
Privacy Issues in Upcoming WhatsApp Update
Well, that’s all it takes but it may not entirely be that simple given the new WhatsApp policies coming into play soon where they revise their privacy and data policies. This policy revision leaves a lot to be desired not least of all because they essentially ask you to politely uninstall their app if you do not grant them the permissions they are demanding. What is their demand? Allow them to share your WhatsApp data with Facebook. This move has been termed by many privacy advocates as illegal.
The bottom line is nobody gives you anything good for you by force, well except your mother and vegetables, everyone else holding a gun to your head and saying my way or the highway does not have your best interests at heart. Do the benefits of WhatsApp for Business outweigh the privacy costs? Only you can say.
Here’s another great read on MPESA for Business