On September 27, 2018, we organized a webinar on WhatsApp together with our partner Smooch, after announcing a few weeks before that Sparkcentral is an official Solution Provider for WhatsApp and an early launch partner. As special guests, we welcomed Karin v. Hoecke and Claudia Paelinck from KBC Bank & Insurance.

The panel shared insights on how WhatsApp is changing the way customers engage with business.

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Part 1

Warren Levitan, CEO and Co-Founder at Smooch, and Tobias Goebel, Head of Marketing at Sparkcentral, kicked it off by focussing on why messaging is relevant to today’s consumers and how Sparkcentral’s partnership with WhatsApp will change the way customer service is delivered globally through messaging. Whether it’s SMS, Facebook Messenger, iMessage or WhatsApp, research shows that customers prefer messaging rather than calling a call center; therefore, businesses will have to engage users on their terms and where they are.

WhatsApp answered the call of the consumer by opening up to businesses

On August 1, 2018, WhatsApp launched the WhatsApp Business API as an early access program, allowing select brands such as KBC to serve customers on this channel at scale — by partnering with approved Solution Providers like Sparkcentral.

WhatsApp is the #1 app in the world and the most used messaging app on our phone today, with 1.5 billion monthly users in 180 countries, and over 60 billion messages sent daily. The ability for businesses to serve customers will be a game changer in customer engagement.

WhatsApp is the #1 app in the world and the most used messaging app on our phone today, with 1.5b monthly users in 180 countries, and over 60b messages sent daily. The ability for businesses to serve customers will be a game changer… Click To Tweet

How is WhatsApp in particular and messaging in general different?

Most people spend five times more on messaging than voice calls and millennials send eight times more messages than email. One of our product managers, Vadi Katti, recently wrote about the millennial demographic in a blog post: “3 Tips How Enterprises can Transform Customer Experience for the Millennials”. Messaging will be the lowest friction way for the consumer to communicate with a brand and continues to grow. Companies will have to adapt to the changing needs of today’s consumer for one simple reason: to deliver a great customer experience.

Warren explained that the reason why messaging is faster and more convenient is that it is a form of asynchronous communication. A customer does not have to be active at the same time as the agent. The Sparkcentral platform leverages that advantage, resulting in higher agent productivity compared to traditional live chat solutions. Customers never have to repeat themselves because the agent would see their entire conversation history—even if a session timed out or an interruption happened in the middle of it. The agent can reply to each customer through the same Sparkcentral platform that enables brands on Facebook and Twitter today.

Why is messaging relevant to businesses?

Messaging is where your customers are today. It strengthens your relationship with your customers as it’s a more personalized service. When a customer calls into a contact center they are often anonymous — still today despite all technology. Every message that comes through the Sparkcentral platform, however, carries with it the customer’s unique handle/ID, and the system brings up the entire chat history for both parties to see and act upon. Unlike a session-based contact center system that handles live calls or chats, customers can start and stop a conversation at any time—no different from how you text a friend or send a WhatsApp message, the contact is persistent and follows the user over time, which is critical in customer service.

The benefits of asynchronous communication is that a user can message when it is good for them and you can reply in a timeframe that is more forgiving than a phone call. There is no waiting in a queue like live chat or phone calls. Asynchronous messaging optimizes the customer experience as well as agent productivity. Asynchronous #messaging optimizes the customer experience #CX as well as agent productivity Click To Tweet

Part 2

WhatsApp Sparkcentral pilot for KBC Bank & Insurance

In the second part of the webinar, Karin van Hoecke and Claudia Paelinck introduced us to KBC Bank & Insurance. Formed in 1998 after the merger of two Belgian banks (Kredietbank and CERA Bank) and a Belgian insurance company (ABB Insurance), their core markets are Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Ireland, with over 11 million customers in total.

KBC introduced WhatsApp to its web care group in February 2018, using the so-called “WhatsApp Business App”, a predecessor to the “WhatsApp Business API” that enables the Sparkcentral platform. The decision was based on WhatsApp being the largest messaging app in Europe and wanting a new channel to serve the customers.
On average, customers were visiting KBCs banking app once a day. Since their customers are already using WhatsApp, the team saw an opportunity to go to where the customers are rather than having them come to KBC—Sparkcentral now provides a quick and easy way to accomplish their goal with high agent productivity gains.

Over the months since February, KBC saw an increase in customer engagement and a high return rate that feeds this channel due to customer satisfaction and ease of engagement. Since they already had a well-performing social media team, they were able to leverage their expertise and increase of users by 600+ each month on average. To this date, KBC has received 34,000 messages and answered and resolved 8,500 questions—note that a conversation can consist of one or more “questions” being asked, and several turns of messages. Because customers are testing the WhatsApp integration “to see if it works,” the answered-to-resolved message ratio will continue to grow.

KBC Bank & Insurance saw an increase in customer engagement and a high return rate on the WhatsApp channel | #CX #WhatsAppBusiness Click To Tweet

Karin and Claudia shared a few more tidbits of experience as the conversation progressed. At the end of the webinar, the team addressed several questions from the audience, including the topic of difference in communication style on a consumer-centric channel such as Messaging.

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