Whether blocked by a customer or by WhatsApp itself, the reasons are typically down to poor user experience or inadvertently breaking WhatsApp's terms of service. So how should enterprise protect itself from being blocked?
Bottom line: business messaging is now an integral and valued part of the customer journey. More than one in two people consider business messaging the modern way to communicate, with 53% more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.
New Responsibilities in Managing Customer Experience
For brands embracing messaging as part of their CX strategy, that's great news. But with such great potential comes great responsibility for creating rich, worthwhile customer experiences—and even the most credible brands can come mess up occasionally. With WhatsApp, it could mean a single customer deciding to block the business or for serious infractions, being blocked from the platform entirely.
To avoid losing access to such a vital CX channel, business must, yes, commit fully to providing great user experiences—but also understand why even an innocuous message or notification can come across 'block bait' to customers and WhatsApp.
Why Customers Block a Business Number
WhatsApp has made it simple for users to block business—all it takes is the tap of a button. So how do companies avoid setting off a customer's 'trigger' finger?
Notify, not 'spamify' – Don’t spam on WhatsApp
Notifications are a blessing for enterprise, ideal for helping customers and in turn generating goodwill. However, businesses should realize there is a fine line between notifying and spamming.
For instance, let's say a brand sends a notification to a customer—but the customer is offline for an extended period. The natural instinct may be to continue sending notifications to ensure the customer receives one next time they log in.
Notifications Only When Requested
The problem? Once back online, the customer is flooded with all those notifications, all at once—that attempt to be helpful perceived as instant spam in the mind of the consumer. Cue the customer blocking the business' number and potentially complaining to WhatsApp. The number one notification rule to take away here? Only notify as and when requested—no more, no less.
Errors Everywhere - How Errors in Your Messages can be Harmful
Sending poorly written messages riddled with errors must be avoided; such sloppiness is immediately associated with spam by WhatsApp consumers. To combat an outbreak of complaint-triggering errors, enterprise should produce an in-house style guide for WhatsApp messaging — as it would for any other customer channel — and employ suitably skilled staff to deliver error-free messaging in a consistent and credible tone of voice.
Why WhatsApp Blocks a Business Number
Things just got serious: WhatsApp has decided that the business has broken its user-centric requirements, resulting in a blocked number. But what kind of actions make WhatsApp block a business in the first place?
Bulk messaging on WhatsApp
Enterprise should always put itself in WhatsApp's shoes when trying to ascertain if it is being 'spammy'. For instance, attempting to bulk message — say, broadcasting and mass updates — is a no-no. While a business may believe it is a legitimate way to connect with customers — and has been told so by 'specialists' — it risks being interpreted by WhatsApp as spamming.
Bulk messaging is a problem, not a solution:
Bear in mind the company blocks two million accounts every month because of bulk or automated behavior, and WhatsApp is not relying on users to report this activity either—75% of cases are identified via machine learning. The lesson? No matter how tempting bulk messaging may appear, junk it.
If a business consistently fails to get back to its customers in a timely fashion, it's going to lead to complaints—and a potential blocked number from WhatsApp. Such delays though are not usually down to a slack attitude but inefficient planning and testing.
When planning to roll out WhatsApp, brands must ensure they put suitable staffing levels (and an effective automated response strategy) in place. This will ensure they are able to meet the influx of customer conversations and queries that will inevitably follow.
Technical Implementation of Business Messaging Platforms
Any technical implementation issues should also be addressed before rolling the service out across an entire customer base. WhatsApp recommends that business tests the platform internally first, using employees to identify any technical issues. Once basic testing is successfully completed, roll out the service to 1-5% of customers, slowly building up over time to 100%. Get it right and no customer need ever be left behind.
Incorporating a marketing missive or advert into a notification sounds appealing — a quick offer never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. Remember, all notifications must be used in accordance with WhatsApp's Business Policy.
This states that companies must not push marketing and advertising messages within notifications. WhatsApp is very clear that its platform is there to serve the customer, not the brand.
Get It Right from Day One
To stay on the right side of WhatsApp's terms of service, partner with a reputable WhatsApp Business API Solution provider. They help guide businesses during the transition, ensuring a smooth registration process, recommending best customer opt-in practices, and generating message templates that are fully WhatsApp compliant.
Best of all, the provider will give expert guidance on the best ways to interact with customers while remaining aligned with WhatsApp's terms at all times.
And such a partnership is critical. Being blocked not only impacts on a brand's ability to offer great customer experiences but crucially, on budgets as well. While blocked numbers can be appealed, any investment in the systems, processes and staff required to service the WhatsApp functionality will be rendered worthless during the appeal. And if the appeal fails, that investment risks being lost forever.