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WhatsApp business calling service won’t affect toll-free channels: Experts

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In Short:

WhatsApp is introducing calling for businesses, focusing on “contextual calling” to resolve customer queries faster and convert more leads. Experts believe it won’t replace traditional telecom voice calling, which reaches more users. Businesses see the benefit of converging multiple mediums onto a single channel for customer service. AI and voice chatbots can enhance user journeys. Businesses are looking to integrate an omnichannel strategy for calls. WhatsApp Business Calling API expected to go live in early 2025.

WhatsApp Introduces Business Calling Feature

In a recent move, WhatsApp has introduced a new calling feature for businesses. However, experts believe that this new feature is unlikely to significantly impact traditional telecom voice calling channels. The focus of this feature is on “contextual calling,” which means that businesses will be aware of the context of the caller’s query based on the active chat on WhatsApp.

Benefits for Businesses

This new service channel will allow businesses to resolve customer queries faster and convert more leads. Anil Kumar, CTO at Exotel, a leading provider of enterprise voice solutions, stated that WhatsApp calling is not expected to replace regular PSTN calling. Telecom calling reaches a larger user base compared to WhatsApp, which relies on data networks and has a smaller user base.

IVR, outbound calling, and other customer services via contact centers are expected to continue dominating the industry. WhatsApp’s advantage lies in its ability to converge multiple mediums and rich features onto a single channel, making communication more efficient for users.

WhatsApp’s Perspective

According to a WhatsApp spokesperson, the new business calling platform is designed to benefit customers with complex requests, such as travel arrangements or account openings. Aniketh Jain, founder of Fyno, emphasized the potential for WhatsApp calling to streamline inbound calls for simpler queries, with the integration of AI and voice chatbots.

Quality of data networks will play a crucial role in determining businesses’ reliance on WhatsApp calling services. Integration with WhatsApp could enhance customer service operations for companies like Velocity, a digital lending startup.

Future Expectations

WhatsApp has opened its Business Calling API in select countries, with plans to enable calling and messaging in one chat thread. Companies can now register for Beta testing, with general availability expected by early next year. Additionally, WhatsApp has announced a screen sharing with audio feature, offering new possibilities for customer query resolution, especially for small businesses.

Contact center companies are exploring omnichannel strategies for calls to improve customer service efficiency and self-servability using AI chatbots.

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