WhatsApp Journeys – Instant Gratification with No frills

It is not merely the availability of customers on WhatsApp that is of value but also, the ease of their journey.
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Although it is tough to find a dictionary definition of ‘Customer Journey’, Oxford defines ‘Journey’ as the “act of travelling from one place to another, especially when they are far apart”. 

From a business perspective, it’s a constant effort to prioritise that the “travel” of the customer is shorter, smoother and error free. With mobile penetration, automation, infusion of AI/ML and availability of APIs—another must, “digital”, is an addition now. Journeys like customer onboarding; self-servicing options; routine transactions; query-request-complaint; receipt and payment of money and even exits have turned digital with a keen focus on the ease of the user.

It was quite riveting to witness the phase where users get comfortable with shifting their interactions and transactions from websites to mobile applications. Earlier, organisations used to send customised links which would take customers to their respective portals and execute call to action. However, there seems to be another shift in easing out customers with the introduction of WhatsApp Journeys.

In this case, an analysis of the intention of the brands could be worthwhile. Do they not want customers to visit their websites and engage with the look and feel of their glittering bundle of information and offers? Are they comfortable losing prospective customers who visit mobile apps when options of ‘upsell’ and ‘cross-sell’ are very much available? Or, are they depriving customers of the so-called ‘human touch’?

WhatsApp has become a giant with more than 390 million active users in India, who spend an average time of 38 minutes per day on the app. With smartphones and networks readily available even in the remote parts of the country, it’s often considered useful to be available on WhatsApp. 

However, it is not merely the availability of customers on WhatsApp that is of value but also, the ease of their journey. With such innovations, organisations are able to enter the customer’s ecosystem where availability is longer an issue. 

WhatsApp journeys are without frills journeys where the customer is completely engrossed in execution with nearly no distraction of any kind. Plain buttons with crisp calls to action keep the customer hooked till the journey ends. Interactions stay with in chat window that one may not need to save separately, green tick for entities ensures no fraud takes place, one could pause and restart the journey at their own convenience, no app or website upload time, options to search for old transaction records through word search option, facility to share the outcome with other WhatsApp users and much more.

With the availability of various APIs from different sources, data can be retrieved and shared by digital teams with ease. APIs like KYC, payment gateways or penny drop would provide different speeds to various journeys for BFSI stakeholders. However, this is merely the beginning. With data analytics and infusion of AI, this medium could become extremely effective. 

Initial experience reports that WhatsApp journeys are shorter, popping up pre-filled information, laced with APIs to retrieve data, lesser text inputs by customers and instant delivery of desired end result. 

In a world of instant gratification and minimal mindshare, shorter journey time and ease of execution matter most.

Forget dictionaries, brands may have their own definition of ‘Customer Journey’—“the act of minimal movement by a user to achieve the desired result, even if it is far apart”.

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Rajiv Malhan
Head - Strategic Projects and Business Transformation, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance

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