WhatsApp app

How to manage your WhatsApp conversations in Intercom.

Beth-Ann Sher avatar
Written by Beth-Ann Sher
Updated this week

Intercom’s WhatsApp integration lets you handle conversations from WhatsApp directly in your Intercom inbox. Meaning your customers can contact you in the most convenient way for them, while you take advantage of powerful Intercom automations.

You can also send outbound WhatsApp messages to multiple users, or offer WhatsApp as a follow up channel in the Messenger so customers can take the conversation with them for maximum convenience.

You will need the following to set this up:

  • A Meta business account and access to it. You can also create one during the process of setting up the integration - see setup steps below.

  • Access to the company phone number that you want to send messages with:

    • The number must be able to receive voice calls or SMS to receive a verification code. Note: if the phone number you want to connect is part of an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and it can't receive SMS, you may need to disable the IVR to receive the call with the verification code.

    • If the phone number is already connected to WhatsApp, you will have to migrate the phone number to Intercom (more information below).


Before you get started

If you are already using the WhatsApp mobile app or WhatsApp Business mobile app with the phone number you want to use in Intercom, you'll need to delete your account in the app first before you can use that phone number with Intercom. It's not possible to use the WhatsApp mobile app or the WhatsApp Business mobile app with the same phone number that you use with the WhatsApp Intercom integration.

To delete your account:

  1. Open the WhatsApp app or WhatsApp Business app

  2. Navigate to Setting > Account

  3. Select Delete my account. It will take a few minutes for the disconnected phone number to become available.

Install WhatsApp channel

You’ll find WhatsApp in the Intercom ​​App store. Click Install to add it to your ​​Intercom workspace.

After installation, go to Settings to connect your WhatsApp Business Account (WABA). Click Connect a business number to get started:

You can choose to connect to a new WhatsApp Business Account, or migrate your existing WhatsApp phone number from your current provider for use in Intercom.

Which option should I choose?

  • If the phone number you want to use isn't already actively in use in the WhatsApp Business API, or if it previously was but has been fully disconnected, you should choose I'm connecting a new WhatsApp Business API account.

  • If the phone number you want to use is already connected to the WhatsApp Business API, either directly or via another third party provider such as Twilio or MessageBird, you should choose I'm migrating an existing WhatsApp Business API account from my current provider.

Connect to a new WhatsApp Business Account (WABA)

If you choose this option, it'll open a window where you can follow the required steps with Meta:

  • Select or create a relevant Meta Business Account

  • Create a WhatsApp Business Account

  • Create a WhatsApp Business Profile, with a description, industry, and phone number

Verify your Meta business account

Once you’ve connected the account, you must request verification of your business account by Facebook:

Important: You must have a verified Meta Business Manager for WhatsApp to approve your WABA. Learn more about the process here.

While your account is being verified, most functionality will be available to you but there are some limitations:

  • You can start up to 250 business-initiated conversations in a rolling 24-hour period.

  • You can register up to 2 phone numbers.

Note: As soon as your account is verified you’ll be notified.

You can connect multiple WABAs by simply connecting another business number.

Migrate your existing WhatsApp phone number

If you want to migrate an existing WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) from your current provider, select this option during onboarding:

Important:

This will open a window where you should follow only the initial few steps of the signup flow:

  1. Log into your Facebook account - This is the Facebook account which is connected to your existing WhatsApp Business Account.

  2. Connect your account to Intercom - You’ll need to share account and billing permissions with Intercom.

  3. Select your Business portfolio - This is the Business portfolio which is connected to your existing WhatsApp Business Account.

  4. Create a new WhatsApp Business Account - You’ll be asked to either create a new WhatsApp Business Account or select an existing one. Do not select an existing WhatsApp Business Account. Instead select the options to Create a WhatsApp Business Account and Create a new WhatsApp Business profile. Note: the display name should comply with Meta’s display name guidelines.

Important: Do not add a phone number after creating your new WhatsApp Business Account. When you get to the Add a phone number for WhatsApp step, close the window and return to the installation screen in Intercom’s WhatsApp Settings.

You’ll need to enter your WhatsApp Business ID which you can find here. Then click Continue.

Next, enter the WhatsApp phone number which you want to migrate.

Note: You must use the international phone format with your country’s dialing code, e.g. '+447123456789' for UK numbers.

You’ll receive a 6-digit Facebook verification code through a call or SMS on the WhatsApp phone number you provided. Enter this code to confirm the migration.

Your WhatsApp phone number will now be migrated to Intercom and your WhatsApp and Meta business accounts will show as Connected and Verified:

Note: After being migrated, a phone number keeps its display name, quality rating, messaging limits, Official Business Account status, and any High quality message templates previously approved. Find out more here.

Note: The WhatsApp display name needs to match the business name.

Test WhatsApp

You’re ready to start testing this WhatsApp integration and see how it works in the Inbox.

All users who write in from WhatsApp will now have a new attribute WhatsApp number.

If you change the email address of a WhatsApp lead to the same email address of an existing user, that lead will be merged into the user record. The change may not appear right away.

You can determine how you would like existing Intercom users to be identified when they've contacted you via WhatsApp by going to the WhatsApp app within the Intercom App Store and updating the settings under the "Identify existing users" tab.

You can now also see and use WhatsApp as a channel filter in Workflows, and reports.

You can connect multiple WABAs by simply connecting another business number.

How we merge leads based on their WhatsApp number.

For an inbound message from a new contact, a new lead will be created in the workspace with the name from their WhatsApp profile, and the WhatsApp number as part of their user data. If their WhatsApp number matches a phone number in another user’s data, they will be automatically merged. It will only merge automatically if they have enabled the option in the "Identify existing users" section of the WhatsApp settings. By default it's disabled and we create a new lead. If you have duplicate contacts, this will apply to the most recently active.

You can also merge a WhatsApp created lead and an existing user in your workspace by using our REST API.

Note: If a user's number is formatted in an international or national format, the system will recognize it regardless of the spaces.


Set your profile

Next, set up your account with a profile picture, add a profile picture in the WhatsApp Settings under Profile.


Open WhatsApp from your product

Share your WhatsApp number with customers

The primary function of the WhatsApp channel is to let your customers contact you via WhatsApp, and there are a couple of easy ways to share your number.

In the WhatsApp Settings under Open WhatsApp from your product, click Get a link or QR code.

This takes you to your WhatsApp business manager where you can open the number:

And click Create message link.

Then enter a message here, which will be pre populated when a customer uses a link to contact you via WhatsApp.

Finally, open the message link and you can copy the URL, or download the QR code:

Then when customers follow a link, scan a QR code, or message the number directly, their conversation will be immediately routed to your Intercom inbox. 👌


Message templates

After creating your a​​ccount, you’ll have access to your own WhatsApp Manager. This is where you create your message templates. You’ll need these to reply to any conversation which has gone more than 24 hours without a reply. Learn more here.

WhatsApp creates 6 samples by default but these won’t work once the account is verified. Click Create Message Template to add your own.

Currently, we don't support variables added in message templates, and you won't be able to use templates with variables in Intercom.

We currently don't support rich media such as images.

Note: Complete from action as part of a WhatsApp marketing template is not currently supported.


Using WhatsApp as a channel

Carry conversations from the Messenger​ to WhatsApp

In the WhatsApp Settings, under Messenger to WhatsApp transition you’ll find the setting to "Show users the option to continue the conversation in WhatsApp".

Switching this on will give your customers the option to move from the Messenger to WhatsApp when they start a new conversation:

All they need to do is scan the QR code and they’ll be notified in WhatsApp when you reply, and can reply there directly.

Teammates can also send the "Continue in WhatsApp" option in Messenger conversations directly from the Inbox by pressing ⌘/Ctrl K and choosing Use Continue on WhatsApp:

The Messenger to WhatsApp transition only works if you have "Share your typical reply time" enabled in your workspace.

Sending outbound WhatsApp messages from Proactive Support

You can also send or schedule outbound WhatsApp messages in bulk or by using event triggers from Proactive Support.


The teammate experience

Once a conversation is in Intercom, it can be easily identified by the WhatsApp icon:

You can receive:

  • Text

  • Images

  • Attachments

  • Gifs and videos

  • Audio & voice notes

  • Locations

You can send:

  • Text & emoji

  • Images

  • Attachments

  • Plain text macros

Macros that contain unsupported file types (gifs, articles, etc.) can be sent but will appear to customers as links.

Replying to conversations after 24 hours

WhatsApp ​​has a limit called the “24 hour customer care window”, to ensure that your customers receive a response within a reasonable time frame, and existing conversations aren’t used for unrelated outbound messaging after they’ve been resolved.

What this means is that for any conversation from WhatsApp, if the last response from the customer was more than 24 hours ago, you can no longer reply with free text, but only with message templates.

In these cases you’ll see the following warning in your inbox:

Click Choose template to open a window where you can choose from pre-approved templates in the account.

These templates are managed from your WhatsApp Manager.

We don't currently support message templates that contain rich media such as images, but we do support variables/parameters in messages.

Click Send to conversation to send the template and continue the conversation.

Once the customer responds, you will have 24 hours to reply as normal, before the limit will take effect again.

Start a new WhatsApp conversation from the Inbox

You can also start a new WhatsApp conversation with a customer from the Inbox.

WhatsApp allows you to use the pre-approved message templates, which you’ll be able to select and send to a customer when starting a conversation in the Inbox.


Choose when to count messages as new conversations

Because WhatsApp conversations exist as a single thread in WhatsApp, it's up to you when they should be treated as a new conversation in Intercom.

Define this in the WhatsApp app settings:

Enter a duration in minutes, hours, or days. Any new messages after that period (in a closed conversation) will start a new conversation in Intercom.


Connect multiple WhatsApp Business API accounts

In WhatsApp Settings you’ll see a persistent button to Connect a business number, even when you’ve already connected an account.

Clicking the button will guide you through the same options and steps you followed when connecting your first WABA.

Additional WhatsApp settings for multiple accounts

Once you’ve connected another WABA, the following WhatsApp Settings will be updated to support it:

  • Test WhatsApp - You can toggle which account to test. The QR code will change accordingly.

  • Set your profile - You can toggle which account you’d like to update.

  • Open WhatsApp from your product - You can copy and show the phone number below on your product and you can also get a message link or QR code to open WhatsApp including an optional message for your customers to edit and send.

  • Messenger to WhatsApp transition - You can toggle which account you’d like the messenger to WhatsApp transition to send to.

This can only send to one account per Intercom workspace at a time. We only support multiple numbers if they are associated with 2 separate WhatsApp Business Accounts.


Workflows rules & automations

You can also apply rules to Workflows based on which WhatsApp account receives a message by selecting the WhatsApp Business number as a condition:

Set up a Workflow using the trigger Customer sends their first message to deflect, triage and route WhatsApp messages more efficiently.


Known constraints

Currently, customers in Turkey cannot receive messages sent via the WhatsApp Business API. Read more in Meta's documentation.

WhatsApp integration isn't available on the Early Stage pricing. Visit our pricing page for a detailed breakdown of features included on each plan.


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