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WhatsApp as a customer service channel grows in SA


Johannesburg, 09 Sep 2021
Read time 2min 50sec
Bhalakumaran Rajasekaran, Associate Program Manager, Freshworks
Bhalakumaran Rajasekaran, Associate Program Manager, Freshworks

Leading businesses around the world, and increasingly in South Africa too, are embracing WhatsApp as a cost-effective, customer-friendly channel for engagement.

This is according to speakers participating in a Freshworks webinar on WhatsApp as a toll-free channel for customer service.

Bhalakumaran Rajasekaran, Associate Program Manager at Freshworks, noted that WhatsApp has over 2 billion users globally, supports rich media and links, and is available in multiple languages. “Customers of all ages understand it, so it neatly eases businesses into digital channels. It’s a cost-effective channel that delivers good customer satisfaction ratings,” he said.

“Many businesses are also looking at WhatsApp as a revenue channel too. They are harnessing WhatsApp’s notifications features, where the business initiates the engagement to share contextual, timely messages, for example, when a customer wants to know when a sold-out product is back in stock. And from June 7, WhatsApp has also made changes allowing opt-in promotional and marketing content.”

Rajasekaran said: “We are seeing businesses of varying sizes enquiring on a daily basis about how to support customers on WhatsApp, because they are all starting to realise that’s where their customers are.”

Clicks launches WhatsApp card enrolment

Freshworks customer Clicks is now using the Freshdesk Messaging and the Freshworks WhatsApp Business API to support its customer engagement.

Roger Koch, Personalisation Programme Manager, Clicks
Roger Koch, Personalisation Programme Manager, Clicks

Roger Koch, Personalisation Programme Manager at Clicks, reports that card enrolment via WhatsApp is now being piloted at its stores, and has already overtaken plastic card enrolments – without any marketing having taken place.

The solution allows ClubCard members to easily enrol and use digital versions of the plastic cards, and allows Clicks to capture key contact and marketing information.

Koch says: “Using WhatsApp was a no-brainer for us – it’s where the customers are, it has high penetration in South Africa, and engagement and interaction there are much better than with e-mail and SMS. Importantly, most customers know how to use it. We have a wide variety of customers of all ages, not all of them are tech savvy, and WhatsApp is as simple as it gets.

“There was a lot of excitement and a huge number of potential use cases for us with WhatsApp. The first has been our Clicks ClubCard, since we issue millions of new and replacement plastic cards in our stores every year. This brings with it the cost of plastic and the challenge of capturing customer details. In addition, customers want digital alternatives to a card.”

Koch says Clicks plans to harness WhatsApp features for more projects in future: “There are huge opportunities for us to use WhatsApp – a whole lucky packet of exciting things.”

Rajasekaran outlined how businesses could use the Freshworks WhatsApp Business API for Freshdesk Messaging to harness the platform for information sharing, sales, post sales and loyalty programmes. Freshdesk Messaging allows organisations to manage multiple WhatsApp numbers, along with other digital channels in a single workspace, as well as automatically sending notifications with template messages to which images, videos and links can be attached.

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