The undiminished popular WhatsApp offers plenty of opportunities for customer service!

• 4 minute read • 27/06/2019
Online customer service
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The messenger service WhatsApp has seen an enormous increase in user numbers over the past years. For many of us, the app has become an integral part of our daily life. We don’t only use the messenger to communicate with friends and family but also as a simple and fast way to get in touch with companies. The shift from online and public communication in customer service to more private channels is an important driver for this development. I listed some important insights for you in this blog!

The most popular global messenger app

Statistics show that the messenger service WhatsApp is more popular than ever. With 1,6 billion monthly worldwide users reported in April 2019, WhatsApp is now holding the number one position in the ranking of global messenger apps, outnumbering Facebook Messenger by 200 Million users.


Number of global users of messaging apps, reported April 2019. Source: Statistica

Statistics published by e-Marketer show that in 2018 and 2019 The Netherlands and Germany are ranking on spot 1 and 4 under the top 5 countries with the highest WhatsApp user penetration. 81% of people in Germany and 82% of people in the Netherlands are using WhatsApp.

According to a study conducted by Apptopia WhatsApp is the app we spend most time on. They report a total of 85 billion hours of WhatsApp usage in a period of three months.

The development of WhatsApp into a customer service channel

The above statistics are very impressive and have important implications for organisations and their customer contact channels. At OBI4wan we started seeing an increase in the use of WhatsApp for business applications already since 2016. This increase correlated with a growing need on consumer side for more personal contact via private channels.

However not all organisations have followed this trend according to a recently published Customer Experience Trends report based on interviews with senior customer experience professionals in North America and Europe. The report shows that only 21% of companies in the study have WhatsApp already implemented as customer service channel. In comparison, 51% stated that they use Facebook Messenger to connect with customers. However, 79% are looking to implement WhatsApp in the coming 12 months.

The benefits of WhatsApp in customer communication

WhatsApp as a customer service channel offers a number of clear advantages, such as the high coverage of users, the speed and the possibility of personal 1-on-1 contact. 8 out of 10 people in Germany and the Netherlands are using the app, it is completely free and easy to use. Research by Forbes shows how important it is for consumers to contact an organisation via their preferred channel. 27% of respondents stated that not being able to use their preferred channel when contacting customer service contributed to a bad customer experience.

As WhatsApp is part of everyday life, it doesn’t cost much effort and time to contact a company via this channel. All a consumer needs to do is open a new chat and send messages. No log-in or registration is required.

On the other side, providing service via messaging is highly cost efficient for companies. The channel offers excellent opportunities for automation. For instance, a chatbot implemented in WhatsApp can assist in answering simple, recurring questions or in asking for missing information. In this way customers can be helped much quicker, which is an important factor for customer satisfaction and retention. Research by Zendesk has shown that a quick response to an initial inquiry is important for 89% of consumers when deciding which company to buy from. 

Another advantage lies in the way and manner of communication via the app. It is more personal and direct than other channels and ensures a positive customer experience.

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