WhatsApp Flows: What is this new automation tool and how does it work?

On September 20, Meta, at the Conversations event in Mumbai, announced a set of new features for WhatsApp Businesses to enable them to build in-chat experiences for seamless interactions with their customers. Three features announced during the event were WhatsApp multiple payment options, Meta Verified badges, and WhatsApp Flows. And while the first two are easy to understand, the third feature has generated both curiosity and confusion in users. So, what exactly is WhatsApp Flows and how does it work? Let us take a closer look.

What is WhatsApp Flows

WhatsApp has explained in its blog post, “We’re launching Flows so businesses can offer more experiences like quickly choosing your train seat, ordering a meal, or booking an appointment – all without leaving your chat. With Flows, businesses will be able to provide rich menus and customizable forms that support different needs”.

Essentially, this will be an automation tool, such as Microsoft Power Automate or Salesforce Flow, but entirely contained within your chat window. In fact, such automation tools already exist in WhatsApp, but these are powered by third-party chatbots. You may have come across them while interacting with your bank or mobile network provider when they ask you to type a message and then show you a number of clickable options that take you to your end destination.

But with WhatsApp Flow, not only will there not be a need for such chatbots, but such automation flows will be more optimized (as created by the native platform) and might be used for a wider range of tasks.

We will know more about it once more people see this feature on their app.

How does WhatsApp Flows work?

It is a slightly harder question to answer since we have not seen the feature in action so far. Additionally, as it is being rolled out slowly, most businesses still do not have access to it or have not implemented it to build their automation flows.

But as most automation tools follow a similar logical pattern, this is how they are most likely to function. These tools will let you build a logic gate to guide the customers to a specific destination. Consider the following flow.

A customer enters a WhatsApp chat of a business that sells clothes. The Flow first greets the customer and asks them whether they are shopping for a male, female, a boy, or a girl. The customer can simply type the response or choose it by tapping the option. The next message comes in and asks whether the customer wants to buy casual wear, formal wear, sportswear, and more.

As the customer chooses an option, the flow provides more specific options to narrow down what the customer really wants and to help them see that catalog.

This is merely a single example, but with WhatsApp Flows, users can potentially buy a ticket for a movie, bus or a flight, clothes, book an appointment, know the answer to a specific query, and more.

We will still need to see the feature in action to really know if this is how the WhatsApp feature works or whether it is even more advanced. That will happen when the feature is rolled out soon.

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