Drive Down CX Friction with WhatsApp’s All-New List Messages & Reply Buttons


Sales & Marketing Growth Director

7min read

Less inputting by customers means less friction when they’re purchasing a product or looking for support via social channels. It’s why WhatsApp’s two new menu options represent a major win for both consumers and brands.

Any form of friction in a customer’s journey is bad news for brands as it can lead to decreased consumer satisfaction, high churn rates, more complaints, and less fulfilled cart orders. It’s an area that impacts on mobile CX in particular: While 76% of shoppers use their mobiles to shop because it saves time, only 12% feel going mobile provides them with the most convenient shopping experience, according to tech company Dynamic Yield.

It’s an issue WhatsApp has confronted head-on recently, continually innovating its offering by introducing more functionality and simplicity with features: List messages and Reply buttons.

List messages & Reply buttons: Increasing customer satisfaction via automation

The new features are designed to replace cumbersome lists of often unformatted text that customers must read through before entering, say, a numbered or worded choice manually; this approach has always been a big ask of any consumer, and one that is hardly conducive to great customer experiences. For example:


With the arrival of List messages and Reply buttons, brands can now remove such busywork and replace it with smarter, more consistent menus that are easy to read - and select an option. Critically, the new features also enable brands to introduce further automation to lift the burden on live agents (and bottom lines) — especially if deploying cost-efficient bot solutions (see below). That’s the theory, but how do List messages and Reply buttons work in practice?

List messages


The new List message format can feature up to 10 options, all framed within a simple, refined, and standardized menu. Once the customer makes their selection, they simply hit ‘Send’. That may not sound like a big deal but research shows List messaging speeds up interactions threefold as the format is easier to read and negates the need to type anything.

Reply buttons


Reply buttons offer customers up to three options to choose from, again framed within a clean, intuitive list format. Consumers press on their choice, and the selection is immediately inputted for a bot or live agent to respond to.

Best of all, brands can use both features ‘chained’ together through out a customer’s journey, deploying them as and when needed, to offer the consumer the best possible experience especially within an automated self-service environment (see below).

And experience matters: According to American Express, over six in 10 customers prefer using digital self-service channels to answer their questions with 59% saying that self-service options improve customer experiences, states Nuance. With WhatsApp’s new feature sets, expect those figures to climb higher still.

Small options, big, big benefits

There are several key advantages for brands leveraging List messages and Reply buttons:

Easier comprehension

Testing by WhatsApp reveals that consumers understand the choices offered by the two formats more quickly and easily, and drop out less frequently compared to bot-delivered text-only lists. For example, a multinational food-ordering platform saw a 6% reduction in drop-outs typically associated with a customer’s lack of comprehension.

Better outcomes

Bots deploying List messages and Reply buttons produce improved response and conversion rates compared to those relying on text alone. For example, a leading apparel e-commerce player deployed List messaging and experienced a significantly higher response rate compared to its text-based lists.

Deeper personalization

As List messages and Reply buttons can be populated in real-time, it means all messaging and options can be personalized to the customer or situation. For example, List messages can display appointment booking slots while Reply buttons can be used to show previous payment methods to save customers time and reduce friction.



WhatApp’s List messages & Reply buttons’ capabilities profiled

To fully leverage the potential of WhatsApp’s new CX options, it’s important to understand their full capabilities — and restrictions:

List messages

List messages offer a series of powerful formatting options to aid brands deliver friction-free choices to their customers.

The layout


The benefits

Customers can be offered up to 10 options to choose from. These can either be populated dynamically or for specific bot use cases. To further aid customer comprehension, description lines can be used beneath each option to provide additional context.

List messaging can also be leveraged as a stepping stone for connecting the customer with a live agent — or better still, delivering a fully automated experience in combination with Reply buttons (see customer journeys examples below). Best of all, there is no need to template List messages or submit them to WhatsApp for pre-approval, meaning companies can deploy Lists as and when required.

The small print

There are some restrictions that are designed to help brands optimize customer experiences instead of creating all-new roadblocks to CX success:

  • Companies cannot deploy more than 10 options in a list as research shows a maximum of 10 offers the best user experience. If a brand does have, say, a list of 20 options, WhatsApp recommends splitting them into two lists of 10 options. This creates two clear steps in the customer’s journey, instead of one long, scrolling list that could reintroduce consumer confusion.
  • That said, do be careful how Lists are deployed; WhatsApp does not recommend sending customers multiple List messages all at once as it risks swamping them with too many options.
  • Lists with fewer than four options with no context — think ‘yes/no’ responses — should be deployed using Reply buttons or interactive notifications instead.
  • Customers cannot select more than one option from a List, but can go back and re-open a previous message to select another choice if they wish to.
  • List messages can only be sent within 24 hours of the consumer contacting the brand via WhatsApp. If a brand tries to send a List message outside of this time frame, they will receive an error code.
  • List messaging is not designed for listing products, though WhatsApp says it is working on introducing product lists in the future so watch this space.

The use cases

Think take-out menus; stores or location selection; available reservation times; seating choices; choosing a recent order to repeat.

Reply buttons

It’s best to imagine the new feature as templates with quick-reply buttons, but without the need to send them to WhatsApp for official approval.

The layout


The benefits

Customers can choose from up to three options quickly without the need to type in text or numbers. Unlike quick-reply buttons, Reply buttons can be populated dynamically based on the customer’s individual responses. This opens up opportunities for personalized uses cases driven by bots, not just live agents. Reply buttons are also ‘freeform’; in other words, no template is required so brands can bypass WhatsApp’s approval process.

The small print

Like List Messages, the new Reply buttons feature a series of restrictions to ensure optimized customer experiences are always delivered:

  • Brands can only deploy up to three Reply buttons; if more options are needed, WhatsApp recommends using a List message.
  • A Reply message can only feature simple options; if additional context is needed, use List messages that allow brands to add section titles and row descriptions.
  • Like List messaging, customers cannot select more than one option from a list, but can go back and re-open a previous message to select another choice if they wish to. Also, a Reply message can only be sent within 24 hours of the consumer contacting the brand via WhatsApp.

The use cases

Think airtime recharges; changing personal details; reordering a previous order; requesting a return; adding optional extras to a food order; choosing a payment method.

List messages & Reply buttons: Combine both to ace customer journeys

To unlock the full potential of Lists and Replies, bring them together to service the customer throughout their journey. This unique combination offers brands greater opportunities for automating large parts of the customer journey, all without sacrificing personalization. Here’s how a combined approach can be implemented across different sectors:

Query management simplified


Financial Services
Payments made effortless


Reordering streamlined


Lists and buttons: More power, more automation, all available on one world-beating platform

With over two billion users across 180 countries, WhatsApp is already the most popular social channel on the planet. Importantly for brands, WhatsApp has become a core channel for customer engagement, where automation is essential to scale conversations and increase response rates.

It represents a significant opportunity and importantly, one that can be leveraged quickly without incurring significant costs or disruption. By partnering with an official provider such as tyntec, companies can roll out and maintain the social channel without friction while enjoying a host of benefits.

From the integrating with existing company systems and introducing bot technology through to total support packages, tyntec’s customers can optimize their existing customer experiences with the introduction of List messages and Reply buttons to create exceptional customer experiences.

Learn more

Discover more about all tyntec’s Content Types to unlock the full potential of WhatsApp Business.