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When a customer reaches out to you on WhatsApp with a question, you can respond to them within the next 24 hours (defined as the Customer Care Window). So, what happens if a customer asks a question during holidays or outside business hours? Or what if you want to start a conversation proactively with your customers? 


With the WhatsApp Business API, you can use WhatsApp message templates to respond after the Customer Care Window closes or if you want to proactively reach out to your customers. 





You can also refer to this set of WhatsApp Message Template FAQs for more details.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • What are WhatsApp message templates?
  • What are the different types of message templates?
  • What are the guidelines for creating WhatsApp message templates?
  • How much does it cost to use WhatsApp message templates?
  • What are the different types of message templates?
  • How to create WhatsApp message templates and get them approved?
  • Step 1: Share your Message Template with us
  • Step 2: Submit the templates for approval from WhatsApp
  • Step 3: Building your API and sending the message template
  • Offering context to your agents


What are WhatsApp message templates?

After the Customer Care Window closes after 24 hours, you can NOT proactively reach out to your customers unless you use a Message Template to send a message.


Note: When you use WhatsApp with Freshchat the terms "proactive messages" and "Message Templates" refer to the same message:

A message that you send (proactively) to your customers outside the customer care window (using a pre-approved message template).



With WhatsApp’s message templates, you can:

  • Deliver important, timely, personalized messages during the customer’s journey to purchase.
  • Continue customer service conversations without worrying about the 24-hour Customer Care Window.


The WhatsApp message templates that you create must adhere to specific WhatsApp guidelines to be approved. Only after being approved, message templates can be sent out to customers.



What are the different types of message templates?


You can create three types of message templates as per your specific requirements:

  1. Text templates: These templates are built with just plain text messages
  2. Rich media templates with attachments: These templates include images, documents, and videos as attachments
  3. Call-to-action & Quick Replies templates: These are interactive templates with buttons for customers to interact


What are the guidelines to create WhatsApp message templates?

Here are some of the rules that you will need to follow while creating WhatsApp message templates. You can also go through these guidelines on Facebook's developer documentation for WhatsApp.


     Content rules

WhatsApp allows you to only send updates, alerts, OTPs, marketing and transactional notifications. 


Formatting rules

These are the formatting rules and guidelines by WhatsApp.


Template names

These names are for your reference when you send them out to your customers.

  • Template names can only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters.
  • Underscores are the only special characters that are allowed.
  • White spaces can not be used in a template name.


Examples of allowed names: shipping_update, order_followup1, refund_status_2


Template categories

Your template should fall under one of these categories

  1. Transactional
  2. One time Passwords
  3. Marketing/Promotional Messages


Template content formatting

The content of your template should be properly formatted:


  • Your template content has an upper limit of 1024 characters.



  • Your template must be text-based and only contain letters, numbers, special characters, emojis, and WhatsApp-specific formatting. Here is a screenshot from an article in the WhatsApp Help Center that details how you can format messages:

    Italic To italicize your message, place an underscore on both sides of the text:  _text_  Bold To bold your message, place an asterisk on both sides of the text:  *text*  Strikethrough To strikethrough your message, place a tilde on both sides of the text:  ~text~  Monospace To monospace your message, place three backticks on both sides of the text:  ```text```


How to create WhatsApp message templates and get them approved?


Step 1: Share your Message Template with us


Start working out your message templates keeping in mind the template guidelines from WhatsApp. You need to share the message templates as a document or on a spreadsheet. Make sure to include the template names, template content, template languages, and template categories. This should be documented in a tabular format, as shown in the example below.



Template categoryTemplate nameLanguageHeader
(attachment type)
Body
Transactionalrefund_initiatedenDocument

Hi {{1}}, we apologize for the inconvenience caused. We have initiated a refund of {{2}} for order {{3}}. Please find your invoice in the document attached.

Transactionalweekend_messageenNone

Hi {{1}}! We have an update on your issue about {{2}}. If you would like to continue having this conversation, please reply with "YES".

Transactional

travel_info_imageenImage

Hi {{1}}! Your travel itinerary for trip {{2}} is now ready. Please refer to the attached image for more info.

Transactionalproduct_videoenVideo

Hello,


Thanks for purchasing {{1}}. If you need assistance to activate your account, please send us a message or refer to the self-service video available below.



  • In these examples, the variables are {{1}}, {{2}}, and {{3}}. Note how they are all in the same format, with a numerical placeholder starting at {{1}} and with two sets of curly braces. If you want to display the same variable twice, please use the same label for both instances.
  • Refer to the WhatsApp message template FAQs to check the complete list of supported languages.

  • For plain text, just mention the header attachment type as none.

  • For rich media templates with images, videos, or doc attachments, you need not share the content that you will attach. It will be sufficient if the header attachment type is mentioned in the table.

  • For interactive button templates, you can choose between using Call-to-actions & Quick replies.

Quick Reply Buttons: 

Quick replies allow your customers to respond with a simple text message by clicking on one of the available buttons. 


  • You can have up to three buttons in a quick reply template.
  • The character limit for each button text is 20.


Here is an example of how a set of quick reply buttons will look like:



To create such a template, you will need to submit it in the following format:



Template categoryTemplate nameLanguageHeader
(attachment type)
BodyButton 1Button 2Button 3

Transactional

trip_reminder

enNone

Upcoming Trip {{1}}


This is a reminder for your upcoming {{2}} trip on {{3}} at {{4}}. We would like to confirm if you can make it.  

YesNoWill Confirm Later



Call to action buttons: 

Call-to-Actions (CTAs) allows your customers to perform an action with the click of a button. We currently support calling a number or visiting a website.


  • You can have up to two CTAs in one message template
  • The character limit for each button text is 20.

  • Both the phone number and the website fields are static, and you will need to share them when you submit your templates for approval. Dynamic website URLs are not yet supported.

  • The character limit for the phone number field is 20, and the website field is 2000.


Here is an example of how CTA buttons will look like:




To create such a template, you will need to submit it in the following format:



Template categoryTemplate nameLanguageHeader
(attachment type)
BodyButton text (website)Website URLButton text (phone call)Contact number (with country code)

Transactional

order_placed

enNone

Hi {{1}},thanks for shopping with us! 



Your payment for order ID {{2}} was successful.

Track ordersauls.com/track_orderWill Confirm Later+1234567890



Step 2: Submit the templates for approval from WhatsApp


When you submit these templates to our team, we will submit them to WhatsApp for approval. This approval process might take up to 1 -2 Business days, you can begin setting up the necessary APIs on your end. For example, you can start setting up your API triggers to send templates using the outbound message API


Once a message template is approved, we will share the template id and the namespace. These are unique identifiers for your WhatsApp account. You can start using your APIs with these unique identifiers, and to access the API, you should generate an API token from your Freshchat account. Learn how to generate an API token from Freshchat. 


Step 3: Building your API and sending the message template

There are four ways to send Message Templates when you use Freshchat:

  1. Within your product/website code:
    Depending on how you've set up your website, you can directly call the API you have set up and send the Message Templates, as seen in the examples above.

  2. By using the API library in the Freshchat bot builder:
    You can configure the API action in the API library of the bot builder. Learn more about configuring API actions in the bot builder.


    Your customer experience with these messages is defined by how you set up your APIs. These include how variables are dynamically filled or what your agents see of this interaction. This is defined based on the attributes you use for your APIs. To learn more about setting up APIs, please refer to our API documentation.

  3. With the WhatsApp Proactive Messaging custom app:
    With this app, your agents can send 1:1 Message Templates to your customers directly from the agent inbox. Learn more about using the WhatsApp proactive messaging app.


  4. With WhatsApp Campaigns app:
    With this app, your agents can send bulk message templates by uploading CSV of customer phone numbers from the app. 
    Learn more about using this app here

    Note - This app is only available in Freshdesk omnichannel and Freshdesk standalone accounts in the Enterprise plan.





Offering context to your agents


You can even choose to set up your APIs so that you can help your agents with more context.  When you set up your API, the storage attribute can be used to help your agents identify if your customers have replied to a Message Template or if they reached out on their own. Two values that can be passed to the storage attribute:


  • "storage":"None"
    This will not reconstruct the Message Template but will show "Proactive message was sent to the user" in the conversation. This can be used if the customer is expected to share any confidential information.

  • "storage":"conversation"
    This will reconstruct your Message Templates message and any applicable replies to help your agents with enough context in the agent view.


    • Customer view:



    • Reconstructed message in the agent view


How much does it cost to use WhatsApp Message Templates?

WhatsApp charges a per-message fee for Message Templates sent outside the Customer Care Window, depending on the destination country and the number of messages you send. We include this fee in your invoices and pass it to WhatsApp. Freshworks does not charge any extra fee to proactively reach your customer.



Note: For Message Templates, there are restrictions imposed by WhatsApp that regulate outreach through these pre approved message templates.

Each business starts off in Tier 1, which allows you to reach out to 1,000 unique phone numbers in a rolling 24-hour window. To know more about this, click here.