Navigating the New Normal
The UK and much of Europe have struggled through a second wave of COVID-19.
Now more than ever, dentists and clinicians are searching for new, safer ways to reach out to patients and keep communication channels open.
No one yet knows how the new normal will look. But it’s a safe bet that digital and online tools will play an ever more significant role in dentist-patient communication from here on.
From virtual consultation platforms to bespoke med-tech messaging services, The Fresh’s inbox is already filled with providers vying for attention.
But we’re willing to bet most people already have a perfect out-of the-box solution ready to go.
And best of all, it doesn’t cost a penny to get set up.
WhatsApp Business could be your mobile’s best kept secret. The little known yet powerful comms tool was designed to keep businesses in direct touch with clients.
WhatsApp Business features a powerful suite of tools which make it perfect for dentistry and healthcare.
In this article, we’ll talk about what makes WhatsApp Business so great. We’ll walk you through the fast, free installation process, discuss features and dispense tips on leveraging WhatApp Business to boost conversions.
Why WhatsApp Business?
As we touched on earlier, there’s a whole host of bespoke communication apps and tools aimed at the healthcare sector. So why choose WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is a well known and widely used platform that doesn’t need any additional sign-up to use. It’s free at both ends and doesn’t need patients to access a desktop PC or tablet to use.
And even better: It works. Which is more than we can say for some of the paid-for alternatives we tested here at The Fresh in the early days of lockdown.
Let’s take a look at some of the other reasons why WhatsApp is a winner.
Real Time Communication
Communicate with existing and new patients in real time. Immediate contact can be the key for converting busy patients who value their time.
Puts Patients in Control
Instant messaging gives patients control over how and when they respond. This is especially important for phone-shy patients and those who prefer to wait a day or two before replying.
You’ve Got Mail
Chat messages and notifications go directly to your patient’s mobile home screen, increasing the likelihood of interaction compared with other forms of communication like contact forms or waiting around for email replies.
WhatsApp’s Got Widgets
Add a widget to your website to let patients get in touch with a single swipe. You can also do other clever stuff like setting automatic greetings and estimated response times. These features make WhatsApp Business really powerful for staying switched on 24/7.
To Re-Record Your Message…
Instant messaging cuts down time consuming conversations on the phone or in person. And it means you’ll never have to record another voicemail again.
WhatsApp isn’t just an instant messenger. You can also voice or video call using your mobile internet or wireless connection. And WhatsApp’s great for sharing photos, audio, spreadsheets, PDFs and more.
WhatsApp Business offers loads of clever call-routing flexibility. You can call any WhatsApp user from your mobile and have your clinic’s number show as the caller ID. You can also access your clinic account from a second phone (for example a staff member’s) or a computer using WhatsApp Desktop.
Landline or Mobile
You can sign up using either your mobile phone or your business’ landline. Using your mobile means merging your business and personal accounts but you can import any personal chat histories. If you sign up from a landline, you get to keep your existing personal account and run your business account from the same device.
Take a Shortcut
You can preload WhatsApp Business with automated and template messages called quick replies. It’s easy to program the app to send canned responses like thankyou messages – and it saves tons of time.
Delve into the Data
Marketers love analytics and WhatsApp business doesn’t disappoint. There are just enough analytics bells and whistles to inform without overwhelming and it looks likely that more will be added in future.
Once you’ve been through the registration process, clients will see a tick by your business name to show you’re the real deal.
Okay, Let’s Get Started
If you like the sound of WhatsApp Business so far, let’s get set up. When you’ve followed the easy installation process and registered your details, we’ll begin exploring some of the features.
Set Up and Installation
Even if you plan on primarily using WhatsApp on desktop, you’ll need a mobile to start setting up. IOS users should head to the App Store. Android users, go to Google Play. Search for WhatsApp Business and install the app.
If you already use WhatsApp for private messaging, you’ll spot two versions of the app after installation: WhatsApp and WA Business.
Download the WhatsApp Business app
Open the new WA Business app and click Agree & Continue to accept the terms.
Now set-up your notification preferences by selecting Don’t Allow or Allow.
Assuming you already have a private WhatsApp application on your device, you will be asked if you want to use your existing number for your WhatsApp Business account. We suggest you use a different number to keep private and business accounts separate.
Enter your business landline number, omitting the first zero.
Confirm your number by clicking Yes.
Confirm your number by entering the code sent to your phone.
If the following screen appears, click Skip Restore
If you have patients in your mobile contacts you’d like to contact via WhatsApp Business, click OK. Otherwise, click Don’t Allow. If this option does not appear for IOS users immediately, it may appear later in the setup.
Once the app’s installed and your preferences set, you’ll need to add some details about your clinic on the Edit Profile screen.
Upload your clinic logo using the Add Photo button. Now add your clinic name and choose Medical and Health from the Business Category dropdown menu, then click Done.
You may receive a message that states that your business does not follow guidelines. Select Continue.
Explore Business Tools screen appears and here you can complete the setup process by selecting Explore.
These can also be found later in Settings in the bottom right hand side of the screen. Select Business Tools, then Business Profile.
The Business Profile section lets you add extra details like opening hours, contact info and a brief description of your business. You can also set the location on a map. It’s best to give as much information as possible here. Fill out all the sections and watch out for typos when using your phone’s keyboard.
Set-up WhatsApp Business on your Computer
WhatsApp Business is a mobile app. And there are also fully-featured desktop and browser versions which let you chat with patients from a laptop or PC.
Staff can also login to the clinic WhatsApp account from their own computer and use the messenger with some restrictions on functionality.
There are two ways to get set up and use WhatsApp Business.
1. Download the App
Head to https://www.whatsapp.com/download/ and choose Download WhatsApp for Mac or Windows PC.
This option installs WhatsApp straight to your desktop or laptop PC, although you’ll still need a mobile phone to use it.
2. Access on the Web
When you want to use WhatsApp Business but don’t have your regular laptop or PC to hand, the web app lets you access the account quickly from any machine.
On your laptop or PC, visit web.whatsapp.com. In the app, head to Settings and select WhatsApp Web/Desktop and hold your phone’s camera to the QR code displayed on the screen. WhatsApp Business will automatically open up on your computer.
WhatsApp Business Tools
Now you’re all set up, let’s take a walk through some of WhatsApp’s tools. You can set up auto replies and responses, shortlinks and even a catalog for products and services. Much of what’s on offer is the same kind of functionality you’d find in a paid-for premium app. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
WhatsApp Business allows clinics to briefly explain treatments and services to patients using the Catalog tool. You can set-up a catalog for free consultations, dental implants, teeth whitening and other services, making it much easier and faster to share information on the fly. Each catalog item can have an image, description, cost and url. You can also assign a product or service code.
To start adding treatments and services, click Settings, select Business Tools, select Catalog, click Add new item. Add Images using Take Photo or Choose Photo.
Now add Item Name and Price £ (Optional). Click more fields to add a website url. You can also add an Item code. Don’t forget to click Save.
Before the catalog item can be used, it has to pass a WhatsApp review. This normally takes a few minutes.
To send the catalog item to a patient, click Chats and select the chat. Click the + icon to the left of the text field. From the menu select Catalog and choose the catalog item you want to send by ticking it. Click Send.
The patient can then see the catalog item and click View to read the description or click the url.
To make it easier for patients to contact you on WhatsApp Business, you can share an automatically generated short link.
Click Settings, select Business Tools, select Short Link
You can also share short links with email and other messengers, or even place it on your website or Facebook page. Just click Copy Link or Share Link. Your short link is unique to your clinic.
With short links, it’s a good idea to create a default message.
The default message can be changed depending on where you want to share the link. This lets you make the message relevant to a particular patient or circumstances. For example, if the link is placed in an email following up an initial new-patient enquiry, you may choose to write “Let us answer your questions and find the right treatment.”
Here’s what the patient sees
WhatsApp Business features not one but three messaging templates to help you speed up communication. You can write custom away messages, greetings messages and quick replies.
Away & Greeting Messages
To write a custom greeting and away messages, click Settings, select Business Tools, then click Away Message or Greeting Message. Turn on Send Away Message or Send Greeting Message and write your message.
The greeting message is sent automatically the first time a patient messages you or after 14 days of inactivity in their chat with you.
The away message can be scheduled to send automatically when you are away, outside of your business hours or you can customise a schedule.
Note that depending on the time of day, the away message could be sent directly after the greeting message, so be careful in crafting these two messages.
Who Receives Messages?
WhatsApp business is flexible about who receives your custom messages. You can choose who to send the messages to:
Everyone – sends the greeting message to everyone who messages you.
Exclude My Contacts – sends the message to senders who aren’t in your address book.
Everyone Except – sends to everyone except those you select.
Only Send To – sends to selected contacts only.
You can create keyboard shortcuts for any messages you find yourself writing often. To create a quick reply shortcut, click Settings, select Business Tools and Quick Replies.
Click the + icon on the top right corner of your screen to create a new quick reply. Then, Enter Message, Attach Media (photo) if you need to and finally create a /Shortcut. This shortcut is what you will type in a chat to get to see your quick reply appear. In case you don’t remember the shortcut you can add up to three keywords to find it in a pinch.
To send a quick reply, go to the chat and type a forward slash (/) in the message field or the whole shortcut i.e. “/thanks” You can then select which quick reply you’d like to send. Don’t worry – you can always edit your quick reply before hitting send.
Swamped with enquiries and messages? Have no fear – you can keep everything organised using labels.
Adding a Label to an Individual or Group Chat
To label a chat, swipe left on the chat, click More and choose Label Chat. You can add an existing label or define a new label.
Label a Message
You can also label individual messages. To do this, tap and hold the message, click More and choose Label. You can now add an existing label to the message or assign a new label.
Finding Labelled Chats and Messages
You can manage labels and search for labelled chats and messages easily. Just go to the top of the Chats tab, swipe down and click Labels. You’ll also find labels in Settings/Business Tools/Labels.
To edit a label, First find the label through Settings, Business Tools, Labels. Click the label you want to edit and then click Edit in the top right hand corner of the screen.
Here, you can edit the label name, click the palette icon to change the label’s colour or delete a label. After making changes, click Save.
WhatsApp Business broadcasts are one of the app’s most powerful features. Broadcasts let you send custom messages to groups of up to 256 patients at a time.
You can message the same group of contacts any time, without having to recreate the list. Patients can’t see who else has received the message and can reply to the clinic directly. Their replies to the clinic look just like a normal chat.
Creating Broadcast Lists
To send messages to several patients at once, you can create broadcast lists.
Go to Chats and click Broadcast Lists. Only patients who have your number saved in their address book will receive the broadcast message.
Click New List and select the patients you want to send a broadcast to by clicking on their name and Create. Now write your message and click the send icon.
If you want patients to communicate with the clinic and with other patients at the same time, you can create a group chat.