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WhatsApp in your business?

BY HANNIFFA PATTERSON

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I've often heard individuals speak of using WhatsApp as a business tool. Though I'm a communications and social media professional, I was not totally convinced. My only experience was of people bombarding me with flyers advertising their events – something I not only found unsolicited and unprofessional, but downright annoying.

However, of late I have been using What'sApp more frequently in my professional life, and I have seen the benefits of this particular social network.

 

CARRYING OUT INTERVIEWS

WhatsApp has been very useful for me as an interviewing tool. In this line of work, you are often required to do more than just touch base with clients. I have found that sending to a busy or otherwise unreachable client a list of questions with instructions on how to create voice notes and send them back to me is a great solution.

To make things easier, I have even made adjustments by creating a template specific to the type of interview, then editing it as necessary to each person. I don't do it all the time, but this has been useful when I need clarity on a previously discussed issue, or the client is probably out of reach or either of us may be off the island.

 

SETTING MEETINGS

People have little time in this fast-paced age, and seem to prefer less intrusive and intensive ways of communicating. As long as you don't regularly send chain letters and so forth, clients should have no problem responding to a text message when making a booking or setting an appointment. It is often quicker and more straightforward, and they can respond even while in a meeting.

At first I thought WhatsApp would seem far too informal, but today's busy professional actually seems to prefer this less time-consuming alternative.

 

A TOOL FOR BRAINSTORMING

WhatsApp is also an interesting tool for brainstorming groups and collaboration.

That is, if a group is created with a predetermined subject in mind, and individuals are invited (implying choice) and could willingly join this group. WhatsApp then becomes a great tool to use for sharing ideas and keeping abreast.

Why? It's cheap – no calling each member, no creation of a CUG (closed user group) with a telephone service. Members can easily and quickly give pointers, get feedback and share updates, all in one space. It is also very easy for the creator of the group to disseminate essential messages, without fear of limitation of access, as currently happens on some social networks such as Facebook.

 

AMAZING FILE-SHARING CAPABILITIES

While consulting on a project, I have had service providers, who did not have access to a computer, forward me their invoice in a WhatsApp message. I have also had interviewees send me high-quality photos from their phones, as they were not near a computer at the time. I've also been on projects in rural areas, where there was no Wi-Fi on location, but I had data on my phone, and so, with a few apps, I was able to get work done and forward it to my superiors. This has been a true life saver.

 

You can't get more direct than a person's cellphone number. You are literally in their back pocket, in their coat or handbag. In every meeting, in their car…in the staff bathroom. With WhatsApp, I have direct access – no middle man.

WhatsApp also means easy access for some clients.

In our economy not everyone has credit. WhatsApp offers a cheap and free way not only to contact your customer, but for them to contact you. Not everyone has Twitter, not everyone is on Facebook, and not everyone has credit. WhatsApp allows individuals to be able to reach you with queries, concerns and even business requests for free, and without necessarily being internet-savvy. The app operates very much like a text messaging service — and almost everyone knows how to text.

Don't miss this opportunity, put a WhatsApp contact number on your flyers, anywhere you request that the client contact you.

In conclusion, WhatsApp has actually turned out to be a life-saving tool for me professionally. I've been able to reach out to clients, get interviews done, and book meetings with busy individuals who are sometimes inaccessible or too busy to respond to me otherwise.

There is no need to go through a protective secretary, or an automated messaging service.

But the use of the tool must remain professional. Users must bear in mind the rules of courtesy and respect that are applied in other forms of communication.

Good luck using WhatsApp in your business!