July 21, 2024
Meta adds AI-powered features to WhatsApp Business app

Last year, during the Q3 2023 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg talked about leveraging AI to have business accounts respond to customers for purchase and support queries. Today, Meta announced AI-powered features for WhatsApp Business apps, such as helping with the creation of click-to-WhatsApp ads and generating responses to frequent customer messages.

Mark Zuckerberg announced these tools at the company’s Meta Conversations conference in Brazil today. He noted that apart from building consumer-facing bots on its platform, Meta wants to build AI agents that could help businesses in their conversations with customers.

“Now, our vision is not just to build a single AI assistant, but also to enable lots of different AIs that can serve different purposes, including for businesses. Any business should be able to quickly stand up an agent that can talk to your customers, provide support, and facilitate commerce,” he said.

WhatsApp Business users will be able to leverage AI to create Facebook and Instagram ads that can start a WhatsApp chat with a business.

The company said it is testing AI-powered customer support, which will automatically answer customer queries related to catalog or frequently asked questions. Currently, the social media company is testing this ability with select merchants in India and Singapore, with expansion to Brazil coming soon.

Meta noted that it plans to denote AI-generated messages clearly so customers know that they are not talking to a representative of a company.

WhatsApp also talked about leveraging AI to send messages to a subset of people rather than all customers who have signed up to receive updates from a business. The company said that now, its Ads Manager will suggest suitable audiences that might be receptive to receiving messages beyond updates for their orders.

Meta’s business partners for WhatsApp API, such as RelianceJio’s Inerakt, Tiger Global and Fidelity-backed Gupshup, and Peak XV and Shopify-backed Wati already offer some of these tools thorough their WhatsApp-based CRM (customer relationship management) solutions. However, Meta is offering their tools for free, and is looking to target merchants who might not want to bother with buying additional tools.

In a joint report, Meta and Bain & Co. said that there is a huge opportunity to scale conversational commerce with generative AI-powered assistants. The report noted that in a country like India, these tools can transform consumer conversations to be more multimodal, vernacular and intuitive.

While Meta is offering these tools without a cost, its primary driver for revenue on the WhatsApp Business platform is businesses having more conversations with customers. With the new AI tools, it will hope to increase the number of these conversations.

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