Millions of businesses use WhatsApp to communicate with their customers, and Front’s WhatsApp integration allows you to easily manage those conversations as a team. Instead of juggling multiple mobile devices to handle WhatsApp conversations, you can efficiently receive and reply to WhatsApp messages from your Front inbox, and respond faster to every customer.
Why use Front to manage WhatsApp?
Share access to WhatsApp with your team and assign clear owners for every conversation and respond faster together.
Consolidate your customer conversations into Front and eliminate context-switching: email, WhatsApp, Twitter, and more in one easy-to-use inbox.
Automate workflows so that you can tag, assign, and even respond to WhatsApp messages with automated rules that help your team stay focused on the most urgent tasks.
Easy to access on desktop and mobile, so you can manage WhatsApp whether you're at your desk or on the go.
Your team can manage WhatsApp conversations right from a shared inbox, just like they would email, SMS, or chat. Like other shared channels, WhatsApp channels will need to be set up by a Front admin.
Front's WhatsApp channel is exclusively powered by Twilio, so you will need to use a WhatsApp-enabled number from Twilio. Twilio manages the approval process to enable WhatsApp Business. You will need to secure approval before setting up a WhatsApp inbox in Front. The approval process follows WhatsApp's Commerce Policy, so be sure to abide by these guidelines to avoid any unnecessary delay.
Part 1: Twilio approval
Sign up or log into your existing Twilio account. In your Twilio dashboard, click the Develop tab in the left sidebar. Open the Phone Numbers section, click Manage, then select Buy a number.
If you've already purchased a Twilio number, you can also use this existing number. You can also port a number into Twilio by following Twilio's usual process.
If you are purchasing a new number, select all of the options you need under Capabilities and complete the check out process to select your number.
You can skip this step if you already have a Twilio number.
Click the Develop tab in the left sidebar. Open the Messaging section, click Senders, then select WhatsApp senders.
Fill out the form that appears.
Click Submit Request to start the WhatsApp approval process. It may take several business days for Twilio to complete your approval.
You can monitor number approvals in the Status section of your WhatsApp Enabled Senders dashboard.
Once your number is approved, proceed to Part 2 to set up your Twilio WhatsApp inbox in Front.
Part 2: Add the inbox in Front
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.
Click Channels in the left menu, then click the Connect a channel button.
Select Twilio /WhatsApp from the channels menu.
Next, fill out the information for your WhatsApp channel.
The Account SID and Auth token are found in your Twilio Console Dashboard, by clicking on your company name at the top left corner of Twilio.
Once you've entered your Twilio account credentials, your Twilio phone numbers will automatically populate in the Select a phone number section. Select your WhatsApp number from the options.
Click Verify account in the top right corner. You may see a screen stating that there is already a webhook associated with your phone number. If you see this, click Yes to override it.
Choose the inbox that conversations will route to and click Save changes.
Step 9 (optional)
Configure any additional settings for your inbox.
Part 3: Updating your webhook configuration in Twilio
In your Twilio dashboard, click the Develop tab in the left sidebar. Open the Phone numbers section, click Manage, then select Active numbers.
In the settings for your WhatsApp number, scroll down to the Messaging section. Copy the full URL from the 'A Message comes in' Webhook section-- you will use this later in the setup process.
Note: If your Twilio number does not show a Messaging section, or the webhook URL is not set, please reach out to our Support team, who will be happy to provide you with the webhook URL for your number.
In the Develop tab in the left sidebar, open the Messaging section, click Senders, then select WhatsApp senders. Select your WhatsApp number to open its settings.
Under How would you like to configure this sender?, select Use webhooks. Paste the webhook URL that you copied in Step 2 into the 'Webhook URL for incoming messages' field.
Click Update WhatsApp Sender.
Refresh your page to ensure the webhook URL is present. If it is not displayed, repeat Steps 4 and 5 until you've ensured that the webhook URL appears after saving/refreshing the page.
Now, test the connection by sending a message to your shared inbox from another WhatsApp number (such as your personal phone). Your message should show up immediately in Front!
Who uses WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp is used by many businesses in the events, hospitality, retail, and e-commerce sectors, as it is a platform that many consumers are already on. It’s used as a customer support and sales inquiry tool to meet customers where they are and provide instant responses.
Is there two-way sync between WhatsApp and Front?
Yes, with Twilio as an intermediary. New messages and replies sync instantly between Front and WhatsApp for real-time communication, while Front stays invisible to your customer the whole time.
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 that looks like this:
You do have the option to reply outside the 24-hour window by creating Message Templates that are approved by WhatsApp. These can be created and submitted for approval directly in your Twilio account.
In Front, the text of your message (or your saved message template in Front) simply needs to match an approved Message Template to be delivered. There is an additional per-message fee to send a Message Template charged by WhatsApp via Twilio.
Can I initiate 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.
I'm using WhatsApp with a bot. Will outbound messages sent by the bot sync to Front?
Yes, but not immediately. Outbound messages sent directly via Twilio, or via a bot connected directly to Twilio will not sync to Front. See the "Do you import WhatsApp history?" point below for details on how these outbound messages are received in Front.
Do you import WhatsApp history?
When you receive a new message from a customer in Front, we will import up to 15 of the most recent messages in the history so that you have context. If there is available message history through Twilio, Front will also import the most recent 100 messages when you first connect the channel.
Can I use the same number for separate SMS and WhatsApp channels in Front?
No, you need to use separate Twilio numbers for SMS and WhatsApp channel. One number can only map to one channel in Front.
What file attachments can I send and receive?
You can send and receive the following file types:
.jpeg, .gif, and .png images
.mpeg, .mp3, .ogg audio files
vCards (Virtual Contact Files)
Can I send or receive messages containing both a text body and media file?
No. The Twilio API for 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. Twilio recommends sending a media file in one message, then sending text in a second message if context is needed.
See Twilio's documentation here for more information on the rules and limitations of sending media files.
Does the integration work with group chats?
No, as this is not supported by Twilio 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.
When can I send a WhatsApp Message Template?
You can send WhatsApp Message Templates to contacts who have opted-in to you contacting them via WhatsApp. For more information, see WhatsApp’s documentation here.
What about special international number formats?
Countries such as Argentina and Mexico will have special international number formats beyond what Twilio will provide Front. WhatsApp documents this here. Please contact us when adding numbers that require this format.
This feature is available on all current Front plans. Some legacy plans will not have access. You will also need a WhatsApp-enabled Twilio number and will pay per-message fees to Twilio separately. Learn more about Twilio's WhatsApp pricing here.