The ways customers want to connect are changing. The WhatsApp Business Platform gives businesses an integrated way to communicate with customers right where they are. In order to integrate properly when using the Cloud API, hosted by Meta, you’ll need to leverage webhooks so applications have a way to respond to events. Webhooks allow your application to monitor three primary events on WhatsApp so you can react with different functionality depending on your goals.
This article looks at these three components, goes through the information they carry, and provides some use-case scenarios to give you an idea of the possibilities.
To send and receive messages on WhatsApp, it’s critical to keep track of statuses and errors to help ensure you’re communicating effectively with your customers, which you can do with webhooks.
With webhooks, the WhatsApp Business Platform monitors events and sends notifications when one occurs. These events are one of three components: messages, statuses, and errors.
Let’s explore each of these and examine examples of how you can use them.
The messages component is the largest of the three event types and contains two core objects:
Contacts — which contain information about the message’s sender.
Messages — which provide information about a message's type and contents.
These two event types allow your application to manage and respond to people that interact with your application. The contacts object contains two pieces of information: name and WhatsApp Id. The contact’s name allows your application to use their name without further lookups. In contrast, the contact’s WhatsApp ID lets you keep track of these contacts or use the contacts/ endpoint to add additional functionality.
For instance, you can verify the customer and start the opt-in process within the customer-initiated conversation, which allows you to message them outside the initial 24-hour response window. It’s important to note that only the text, contacts, and location message types provide contact information.
The message object is where the bulk of the information is stored, including the message contents, type of message, and other relevant information. Depending on the message type, the actual payload of the message component can vary widely. It’s crucial to determine the message type to understand the potential payload. Message types include:
Text: a standard text-only message
Contact: contains a user’s full contact details
Location: address, latitude, and longitude
Unknown: unsupported messages from users, which usually contain errors.
Ephemeral: disappearing messages
Media message types: contain information for the specified media file. These types include:
These different data types can have very different uses, from reviewing images and screenshots from concerned customers to collecting information about where to ship goods and send services. To use these different data types most effectively, you can create applications to handle different forms of communication, with functionalities such as:
Ask your customers to provide a shipping or mailing address. You can use the location-based message feature to capture your users’ location to determine where to send their goods and services.
Show customers products and communicate product details through a message. You can use the referred_product field within messages to offer your users specific product details. Using this field develops a more personal, conversational shopping experience and customer interactions.
Build support functionality that allows customers to take and send images and videos of product concerns, and submit those for a support case. Once the user has submitted a support ticket, the app can track the case — including steps taken towards resolution and conversations between support teams and the customer through WhatsApp — using a unique case identifier.
These are just some potential features you can build using the interactivity provided by webhooks and the message object. These features extend your current communication channels and provide additional options for customers.
Where the messages component provides your application with insight into events that originate directly from your customers, the statuses component keeps track of the results of messages you send and the conversation history. There are six status components:
Status components also contain information on the recipient ID, the conversation, and the pricing related to the current conversation. Conversations on WhatsApp are a grouping of messages within a 24-hour window that are either user-initiated or business-initiated. Keeping track of these conversations is vital, as a new conversation occurs when you send additional responses after the 24-hour period ends.
Some functionality you may want to add to your application based on status events includes:
Finally, the errors component allows your application to receive any out-of-band errors within WhatsApp that affect your platform. These errors don’t stop your application from compiling or working but are typically caused when your application is misusing specific functionality. The following are some typical errors.
If your application violates WhatsApp Business Messaging or Commerce policy, your account may be temporarily banned. You can monitor this and pause your application while troubleshooting.
If your workflows unintentionally generate duplicate messages, you can monitor this to find the source.
Sometimes, messages are not sent during their time to live (TTL) duration. Use this code to know which messages to schedule for resending if needed.
Error handling is a broad, complex subject, and there are many other use cases for which you should be implementing error handling. The errors component helps extend your error handling on the WhatsApp Business Platform for greater consistency.
This article took a high-level look at messages, statuses, and errors returned by webhooks and explored ways you can use these three components to expand your application's functionality.
Messages provide information on customer interactions, statuses give insight into messages your app sends, and error notices enable you to increase your application’s resilience. Webhooks are critical to ensuring your app interacts with customers seamlessly.
The WhatsApp Business Platform’s webhooks provide your applications with real-time data, enabling you to build better experiences as you interact with customers. Ready to know more? Dive deeper into everything the WhatsApp Business Platform has to offer.