As we know, businesses using the WhatsApp Business Platform will be charged per 24-hour conversation, with different rates by conversation category. We have summarized the differences between these categories.
There are three business-initiated conversation categories:
- Utility conversations - Designed to facilitate specific, pre-agreed requests or transactions, or to provide updates to customers about ongoing transactions. This includes notifications related to post-purchase updates and recurring billing statements. For instance, it covers scenarios such as order updates, delivery notifications, and other transaction-related interactions.
- Authentication conversations - Enable businesses to authenticate users with one-time passcodes. For example: account verification, and account recovery.
- Marketing conversations - Include promotions or offers, informational updates, or invitations for customers to respond/take action. Essentially, any conversation that doesn't fall within the utility or authentication categories is considered a marketing conversation.
Meanwhile, all user-initiated conversations will be categorized as service conversations, which help customers resolve enquiries. Additionally, Free session is used for user-initiated conversations only.
When a template is delivered, it starts a new session of that category and incurs the charge of that conversation category, unless the template is delivered while the session is still active. With the implementation of the new Conversation-Based Pricing, WhatsApp introduces the concept of multiple conversation windows. As a result, there can be several active sessions within a single chat room.
The differences between Service Conversations and Customer Service Window
Service Conversation is started when a business responds to an inbound message from a user with a non-templated or free form. If a business replies to a customer message using a template, a business-initiated conversation will start based on one of the three categories listed above.
Meanwhile, Customer Service Window is a 24-hour timer that starts when a customer sends a message to a business. During this period, which lasts less than 24 hours from the customer's last message, business can respond with free-form messages. However, if it has been more than 24 hours since the customer's last message, business will be outside the customer service window and must use a message template to send a message.
Click-to-WhatsApp (CTWA) is one of WhatsApp's features where businesses can publish advertisements on Facebook and Instagram with a Call-to-Action (CTA) that leads to WhatsApp chat. When people click the CTA button, they will be redirected to WhatsApp and can start a conversation with the business.
When a conversation starts from CTWA, business can send anything for free for 72 hours. This means that business can respond with any type of WhatsApp message (including marketing templates) for free for 72 hours. Read more about CTWA and its benefits here.
Start Chat vs. Follow Up Customer Button
There are two types of button than can be used to send a message template to customers, Start Chat and Follow Up Customer buttons. Start Chat button will appear when there is no active session in a chat room, regardless of whether the customer service window is still active or not. However, the Start Chat button will not appear if the Hide estimation cost dialogue on start chat and follow up toggle in the Settings menu is enabled.
Meanwhile, Follow Up Customer button will appear when there is an active session in a chat room but the customer service window is no longer active.
As a reminder, the banner: Will expire soon (remaining customer service window time) on the Chat & Customer Info page will appear. For example, if you see the Will expire soon (1:30:43) banner, it means the customer service window will expire within 1 hour 30 minutes 43 seconds. If business clicks the Start Chat button before the customer service window expires, the Service Conversation Session will start.
Please note that the customer service window will expire when the last message from the customer is more than 24 hours. If the customer service window is no longer active, business can only send an approved message template via the start chat or follow up customer button.
When there is an active session in a chat room and the customer service window is still active, business can send free form messages, files, images, templates, or predefined messages.
We have created several use cases that can make it easier for you to understand WhatsApp Conversation-Based Pricing.
Use Case 1: Service Conversation Session Started
As you can see in the image above, a Service Conversation session is started when a business replies to a message sent by a customer in less than 24 hours, or when the customer service window is still active. Business cannot reply to customer messages using free form outside the customer service window.
If the customer sends another message while the customer service window is still active, the customer service window period will change according to the time of the customer's last message.
Use Case 2: Click-to-WhatsApp Session Started
Different from other categories, conversations that start from a customer clicking on a CTWA ad have a longer customer service window, 72 hours. During this time, business can respond with any type of WhatsApp message (including marketing templates) for free.
Use Case 3: One Business-Initiated Conversation Session Started
In contrast to service conversations and CTWA sessions, business-initiated conversations begin when a business sends a template to a customer. This applies to all categories: utility, Authentication, and marketing.
Example for marketing conversation:
Example for authentication conversation:
Example for utility conversation:
Please keep in mind that if the customer service window is no longer active, you cannot send messages to customers using the free form.
Use Case 4: Send Templates in the Same Category
One session for business-initiated conversation is 24 hours. During this time, you can send more than one message template in the same category without additional fees. For example, if you send a marketing template at 12.00 p.m. on September 12, then you can send another marketing template with a maximum limit of 12.00 p.m. on September 13 or 24 hours after the first template is sent.
Use Case 5: Multiple Conversation Windows
WhatsApp introduces the concept of multiple conversation windows where there can be more than one active conversation. However, if you have an active conversation session but send a message template in another category, you will be charged an additional fee. For example, if you send a marketing template at 12.00 p.m. on September 12, and then send an authentication template at 12.05 p.m. on September 12, you will be charged for the marketing conversation and also the authentication conversation.