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In order to create a WhatsApp agent, after you clicked on "Create Agent" select the WhatsApp option. The WhatsApp agent is a text-based agent you can effortlessly use on your WhatsApp application.
The nodes in a WhatsApp agent will be slightly different than in the voice-based agent. While some capabilities are not supported in text-based agents such as the "Listen" node, there are many more features for you to explore, e.g. replying to the virtual agent via voice note and transcribing it into text in order to match with the agent's knowledge base or sending and receiving images.
Click here to learn how to build your first virtual agent.

Add a phone number to your Whatsapp agent

To create any virtual agent on the Vonage AI studio, you require a Vonage API Account.
The process to get a working WhatApp number is as follows:-
  1. 1.
    Purchase a phone number (which can support both SMS and Voice) on the Vonage API Dashboard.
2. Once purchased, go to the "Your Numbers" page under Numbers, and click the pencil icon next to the number you just purchased to edit the number. Once the pop up opens, set the voice forward to a phone number of your choice. Make sure you are able to receive calls on this number in real time since the number would be required to verify your WhatsApp Business Account.
3. Next select "External Accounts" on the left navigation panel, click on "Set up my WhatsApp business account". Follow the instructions to setup and create your Meta Business Account and your WhatsApp Business Profile.
4. After you create your WhatsApp Business profile, you will be required to verify your number. Choose the Verification method to be "Voice Call" and verify the number.
5. Post verification, you will be redirected back to the API dashboard where you will be prompted to "Get your WhatsApp number ready". Please note that there may be some latency in the pop up appearing on your dashboard.
6. Once you have gotten your number ready it will then be accessible for use within AI Studio. You will be able to see it listed in your available numbers when you decide to publish your agent. It will also be visible in the API Dashboard External accounts page under "Your connected Social channels".
Make sure to reverse the voice forwarding on the number to ensure your agent works as planned.
To reuse a WhatsApp number, make sure to disconnect the number from the agent it is currently being used in by going to the phone settings and clicking "Disconnect Agent".
Upon completing this step, the number will then be available to connect to another agent within the same API key.
To learn more about WhatsApp onboarding, visit the API documentation page.

How to set up your WhatsApp agent

You can create two different types of WhatsApp agents on the AI Studio.
  1. 1.
    Inbound -> Virtual Agent handles incoming customer support queries, e.g. FAQs (opening hours, location, etc). In this case, the user is initiating the conversation with the VA.
  2. 2.
    Outbound --> Virtual Agent engages with your customers by sending notifications and updates, e.g. confirmation messages, appointment changes, special deals, etc. Here, the VA initiates the conversation with the user.

Inbound Virtual Agent

Please make sure you have a valid WhatsApp business account created through the Vonage API Dashboard.
Once you have created the WhatsApp agent and assigned a number to it, you can go ahead and test the flow. Add the virtual number to your contacts on your phone and start the conversation by sending the first message to the agent to start the flow.
You can send anything to start your agent. The content you send will be waiting in the INITIAL_MESSAGE parameter which is saved throughout the session of the conversation.

Outbound Virtual Agent

Please make sure you have a valid WhatsApp business account created through the Vonage API Dashboard.
For this type of conversation, you will need to create a WhatsApp template message and get it approved by Facebook.
WhatsApp templates are the first message being sent from a business account to a customer, prompting them to start engaging with the Virtual agent. In order for a virtual agent to send outbound messages to customers, you’ll first need to create a WhatsApp template through your Vonage API dashboard.
Please note, that Facebook will review and approve every WhatsApp template, a process that may take up to a few days to complete.
You can read more about WhatsApp message templates on Facebook's documentation page or in Vonage APIs Support Center. If you are struggling with setting up your business account or your WhatsApp template messages, please contact our support team.
Once you have a WhatsApp message template ready and approved, you can start sending outbound messages to customers. Since the template message is set through your Vonage API Dashboard on Facebook, you will not have any visibility to it from Vonage AI Studio.
Once a message template has been sent to the customer, the Virtual Agent will only be able to catch the customer’s response to it with no representation of the message template itself.
The customer’s response to the message template will initiate the conversation flow as designed in the AI Studio by triggering the “Start” node. The actual customer input will be automatically captured as the value of the INITIAL_MESSAGE system parameter and saved throughout the session of the conversation.

WhatsApp Best Practice

1. Save your template message in a parameter

Since template messages rarely change, it’s a good idea to save the actual message creative as a parameter value for later reference in reports. To do so, create a custom parameter and manually insert the template message creative as the parameter’s value.

2. Use the initial message to determine the flow

This is mostly relevant for inbound customer care agents.
Use the INITIAL_MESSAGE parameter value to dictate the start of the conversation by creating custom conditions based on the customer’s input. This method is extremely effective for message templates that include quick reply buttons.
In the use case below, we have two intents - Office Location and Forgot Password. If the initial message of the user is not simply "Hi there, I have a question" but "I need help resetting my password", the agent can use and attempt to classify that input immediately, without waiting for the agent to prompt the user.
Add the Classification node with your intents right after the START node. This way the agent will check if the user's initial message matches an intent and can direct the conversation accordingly.
If no match is found, then the user's input will go to the Classification node's Missed tab and the agent will prompt the user normally.
If you want to create an outbound campaign sending a multitude of messages to different recipients at the same time, please contact our support team for help.

Monitoring & Reporting

Same as for regular telephony agents, you are able to see the conversation of a WhatsApp agent in the reports.
Additionally, AI Studio now allows you to view the delivery status of your virtual agents messages!
Within the Reports transcription, you will see the following signs to indicate the status of the message.
A single tick refers to the message being sent from the agent to the user. This can occur in cases where the user has limited network connectivity and is not able to receive the message.
Double ticks refer to the message being delivered to the user. The user has received the message however they haven't read it yet.
Double blue ticks refer to the message being delivered and read by the user.
You can also view the status of each message within the flow paths available in your reports.
Want to take a quick look at the features available in this channel? Watch this video to learn more.