WhatsApp, the social media app owned by Facebook, is by far the most popular app in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the open design of WhatsApp has left companies disappointed at the missed opportunity. Read this article to learn more!
WhatsApp, the social media app owned by Facebook, is by far the most popular app in Zimbabwe. Over the years, Zimbabwean businesses have appreciated its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Unfortunately, the open design of WhatsApp has left companies disappointed at the missed opportunity. After Facebook had acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion, they had to monetize it, but first, they had to create new features. However, the rollout of new features has been excruciatingly slow, and at times, businesses were forced to jump the gun. This has its pitfalls, because if you manipulate WhatsApp interactions, then WhatsApp could change its functions to block your efforts, for example, limiting how many people you can forward a message to.
Business communication is essential for any enterprise, and the high cost of voice and SMS had been taken as an unavoidable cost. WhatsApp allowed business people to communicate with each other or with their employees at a fraction of the cost. Not only could business to business communication be done cost-effectively, but it also reduced the price for consumers to contact the business. The financial impact of WhatsApp was more pronounced for cross-border communication between companies, their partners, and customers.
The bare nature of WhatsApp initially only allowed users to create groups around a product or industry. Savvier entrepreneurs use the broadcast feature to disseminate their message through text, images, and videos. Some of the other use cases are:
Initially, most companies were focused on using WhatsApp as a way to keep in touch with clients. It worked, but the bare nature of WhatsApp did not allow them to have contact centre capabilities. Fortunately, WhatsApp has released a Business API that will give businesses auto-response, and data retrieval capabilities.
Over time various business groups have been formed. The online tech magazine TechZim created the most comprehensive list of Zimbabwe’s WhatsApp groups.
Entrepreneurs are using WhatsApp as a media platform: this is important in Zimbabwe. The government has been very restrictive in handing out new licenses in the traditional media space (TV, Radio, Newspaper). This has resulted in new small media Zimbabwean companies forming around the WhatsApp platform.
Financial Institutions are now using WhatsApp for transacting: WhatsApp is an encrypted and accessible service, so it makes sense that financial companies are using it more. Like the money transfer company Mukuru, which enables users to initiate a transaction from WhatsApp or Steward Bank’s service, which allows any customer from any bank to carry out just about any transaction from WhatsApp.
Nonetheless, WhatsApp has realized the potential for the application to improve business to customer relations and is releasing new features to that effect.
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