WhatsApp has announced that the business-focused version of its messaging service, WhatsApp Business, is now actively used by 5 million companies to support customers.
The Facebook-owned company launched WhatsApp Business last January, kicking off with Android users in five markets — the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Italy, and Indonesia. It’s similar to the main WhatsApp client app, except it packs extra features to help companies connect with customers.
As with other social apps, businesses can create a profile page with key information, such as email address, website address, description, and so on. They can also create quick replies from previously written responses and organize their contacts or chats with colored labels.
To mark one year in business, so to speak, WhatsApp is bringing many if these business features to the WhatsApp web and desktop client. For now, this will include support for labels, chat list filtering (the ability to sort by groups, broadcast lists, or unread messages), and quick replies.
Opening things up to desktop computers does make a great deal of sense. As Facebook has struggled to find a sustainable business model for WhatsApp since its $19 billion acquisition five years back, targeting business users has emerged as one of the obvious solutions. Indeed, back in August WhatsApp revealed it would start charging businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages.
However, customer support teams are arguably more likely to operate from a fixed workstation in an office, which is why opening these features to PCs could broaden the appeal of WhatsApp Business.