How to set up the WhatsApp channel
Edited

Overview

Front’s native WhatsApp channel allows you to connect multiple WhatsApp Business phone numbers directly to Front, without going through third-party providers. Once set up, use Front to receive and reply to your WhatsApp messages. You can also leverage Front’s composer plugin to reply to messages with your WhatsApp message templates.

The WhatsApp channel is available via a plan add-on. For more details on how to purchase the add-on, see the Pricing section below. You'll need to purchase the add-on before continuing with the set up instructions.


Connect a WhatsApp channel to Front

Prerequisites

  • You must be a Front company admin to enable the add-on for your Front instance. Once enabled, any teammate with appropriate inbox access can connect a WhatsApp channel to an inbox.

  • You must have or create a Meta Business Account before beginning channel setup steps.

Migrate from a separate WhatsApp Business Solution Provider [optional]

Follow the steps in this article if you need to migrate your number from a separate WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (e.g. Twilio, Number, Zendesk) to Front.

Once you complete the migration, you can configure and send WhatsApp templates or review how the channel works.

Connect your WhatsApp number to Front

Step 1

Click the gear icon on the top right of Front and select company, workspace, or personal settings in the left sidebar, depending on the space you’re working with.

Step 2

Click Inboxes in the left menu and create a new shared inbox or individual inbox.

Step 3

Click Channels in the left menu, then click the Connect a channel button.

Step 4

Find WhatsApp in the list and click Connect.

Step 5

Click the Connect to WhatsApp button. In the pop-up, either log in to your Meta Business Account, or click Continue as [name] if you're already logged in. Click Get Started.

Step 6

Review the permissions needed to connect a WhatsApp channel, then click Continue.

Step 7

Fill in your business information, then click Next.

Step 7

Use the dropdowns to create a new WhatsApp Business account, or to select an existing one. Click Next.

Step 8

If you’re creating a new WhatsApp Business account, fill in the required information about your business and add a phone number.

If you need to verify your WhatsApp business, follow the steps in this Meta article.

Step 9

Once you successfully verify your WhatsApp Business and phone number, you’ll be redirected back to Front.

Step 10

Choose the inbox that conversations will route to and click Save.


Configure and send WhatsApp message templates

Admins can set up and manage WhatsApp message templates in your organization’s WhatsApp Business settings. These templates automatically sync over to Front. Optionally, if your templates contain variables, you can configure mapping between WhatsApp variables and Front variables. Otherwise you can manually set variable values while composing your messages.

Teammates can use WhatsApp-approved templates to reply to messages outside of WhatsApp’s 24-hour time limit.

Admin steps: Configure templates in Front

Step 1

In Front, navigate to your admin settings, then click Channels in the left menu. Select the WhatsApp channel, and click Settings. Find the Configure setting then click Configure.

Step 2

You’ll see a list of your WhatApp templates and their statuses. Select the template you’d like to edit.

Template statuses:

  • Pending WhatsApp review: This template has not yet been approved for use by WhatsApp, and therefore cannot be sent via Front.

  • Variable mapping incomplete: This template has at least one WhatsApp variable not mapped to a Front variable. It can still be used, but the missing variables must have values supplied at the time the template is sent. It’s recommended to try to map all WhatsApp variables to Front variables when possible.

  • Variable mapping complete: This template’s WhatsApp variables are all mapped to Front variables, so no additional values will be required to send this template.

Step 3

You can manage elements like the header image, mapping variables, or adding links. The template preview will dynamically update with your changes.

Step 4

Click Save when finished. Variable mapping changes do not require re-review from Meta. Edits to the template itself require re-review from Meta before it can be used with Front.

End-user steps: Send templates using the composer plugin

Step 1

Click the WhatsApp icon in the composer toolbar, then select a WhatsApp template.

Step 2

You’ll see a preview of the template contents. If applicable, you can manually override variables in the template before sending it. The template preview will dynamically update with your changes.

You can also click the arrow icon at the top of the template to view it in WhatsApp.

Step 3

Click Send template to send the message.


How it works

Message imports

  • Historical messages will not be imported into Front, but any new conversations will be imported.

  • ​​New messages and replies sync instantly between Front and WhatsApp for real-time communication, while Front stays invisible to your customer the whole time.

  • Front will maintain a two-way sync for read status between WhatsApp and Front. Read status in WhatsApp will sync to Front, and vice versa.

  • Emoji reactions will be imported, but you cannot use emojis to react to messages in Front.


Sending messages

  • Messages can be sent with rich-text formatting (italics, bolding, links, etc.) and attachments.

    • A message can either contain text or a single attachment. WhatsApp does not support sending or receiving messages with both a text body and media file in the same message. Messages like this will look blank in Front. We recommend sending a media file in one message, then sending text in a second message if context is needed.

    • A single message cannot contain multiple attachments.

  • Supported attachments and their size limits vary by media type. See Meta’s article to learn more.

  • To reply to any inbound message, you can use WhatsApp message templates or custom messages.

  • To compose new outbound messages, you must use a WhatsApp message template. New outbound messages can only be sent to one recipient at a time.

  • You must use message templates when replying to messages outside of WhatsApp’s 24-hour time limit.


FAQ

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp’s Business solutions include the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business Platform.

The WhatsApp Business App is a free mobile application specifically designed for very small businesses. It operates on your phone, offering essential features like creating a business profile and sending quick replies to customers. Front does not offer an integration for this app.

The WhatsApp Business Platform is a paid service for medium and large businesses that need to efficiently manage their WhatsApp conversations at scale. It gives you access to much more functionality than WhatsApp Business App, but you need to use a third party partner service (like Front) in order to access WhatsApp Business Platform. Front integrates with the WhatsApp Business Platform in order to bring your WhatsApp conversations into Front.

Learn more about the differences between the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business Platform in Meta's Business Help Center.

What does my customer see?

Just as when you respond natively through WhatsApp, responding in Front will display your company’s WhatsApp profile to your customer. It will not show a specific Front teammate’s name or profile. 

Is there a time limit for responding?

Yes. WhatsApp gives you 24 hours to respond to an inbound message. If you try to reply to an inbound customer message that is more than 24 hours old, you will see an error. See Meta’s article to learn more about the time limit.

You do have the option to reply outside the 24-hour window by creating templates that are approved by WhatsApp. These can be created and submitted for approval directly in your WhatsApp Business account. In Front, the text of your message simply needs to match an approved WhatsApp message template to be delivered.

Can I initiate new messages to customers?

You can initiate new outbound messages to contacts who have opted-in to you contacting them via WhatsApp. You are required to use an approved WhatsApp message template. For more information, see WhatsApp’s documentation here.

Which Front variables are supported with WhatsApp templates?

Supported variables with WhatsApp templates:

  • recipient.email: contact's email address

  • recipient.name: contact's full name

  • recipient.phone: contact's phone number

  • user.email: current Front user's email

  • user.name: current Front user's full name (first + last)

Can I create, edit, or delete WhatsApp templates in Front?

No. You can create, edit, or delete your templates directly in your WhatsApp Business settings.

Are group conversations supported?

No, as this is not supported by the WhatsApp API at this time.

Do you display customer profile data?

Front matches your customer’s phone number with your Front contacts and CRMs like Salesforce and Pipedrive for quick context on the conversation. As long as the customer’s WhatsApp number matches the number in your other CRM integrations linked to Front with the same formatting, the information will be displayed.


Pricing

Pricing overview

Usage of the WhatsApp channel requires purchasing the WhatsApp channel add-on. The add-on is only available to customers on the latest Growth plan or above

The add-on costs will be billed $70 per 1000 conversations per month, and the fee will be pro-rated based on the remainder of your current billing cycle. You will be granted access to a recurring conversation limit that corresponds to your payment recurrence: 12,000 conversations per year for annual billing, 3,000 per quarter for quarterly billing, etc. These can be used at any time throughout your payment period, and you will have the option to add more conversations should you need them. A “conversation” includes all communication to and from a customer’s phone number within a 24-hour period. See this article for an example.

If you have any questions, contact your account manager or reach out to accountservices@front.com.

To enable the add-on, you must be an admin of your Front instance and you must be on the latest Growth plan or above. Click the gear icon on the top right of Front and select the Company settings tab, then select Billing. Scroll to the Add-ons section in your current plan to add the WhatsApp channel. Once you've updated your plan, you can follow the setup instructions above to begin sending and receiving messages.

Pricing FAQ

How will I know if my team is reaching the conversation limit?

Billing admins will be notified at 90% usage and 100% usage. You can also see usage within your billing settings.

What happens once the conversation limit is reached?

Users will still be able to receive messages but will no longer be able to send messages through WhatsApp. To continue sending messages, a company admin needs to purchase an additional add-on.

How can I add more conversations after reaching the limit?

Company admins can purchase an additional WhatsApp add-on at any time to add more conversations that will be prorated based on the remaining time on your subscription. For example, if a WhatsApp add-on is added 6 months into your subscription, your conversation total increases by 6,000 (1,000 conversations per month for 6 months) and you only pay for the remaining 6 months ($70 per month * 6 months = $420). 

How many conversations will I have at renewal?

We default to the total quantity of add-ons purchased during the prior contract period. For example, if at renewal, you had purchased 5 WhatsApp add-ons throughout the year, you will renew with 5 (12,000 * 5 = 60,000 conversations).

You can adjust your renewal add-on quantity by decreasing or increasing the number of add-ons in billing settings before renewal.