F.A.Qs

WhatsApp for business as a solution is a good way to handle your organization level conversations with your audience. However there are a few advantages and disadvantages to it-

Cons:

  • You cannot use a group structure for conversations which means users in a group cannot interact with each other. All conversations are 1-2-1.
  • If you want to message your audience, you can only do so within a 24-hour window which opens with them messaging you first. However, you can send them template messages outside the 24-hour window, which needs to be approved by WA.
  • WA chat method is not very effective for collecting structured data. Ex. you may ask your audience of the current weather expecting to hear ‘Sunny’ or ‘Rainy’ etc… but you might receive completely disconnected responses like depending on the chat context and their understanding.
  • WhatsApp for business API incurs a cost for sending each message.

Pros:

  • It allows you to send your message/content to a large scale audience. You can send rich media content with images, videos, emojis, and formatting.
  • It provides an available channel to receive a response, hence setting up two-way communication between you and your audience.
  • You can have personalized 1-2-1 conversations.
  • You can have your audience OPT-IN to your organization no. to freely exchange messages without the limit of a 24 hours window.
  • You can send google form links to collect data. While it created a disconnect between the messaging app and where the data reside, it does open a possibility.

Leveraging WA for business, Glific allows you to do the following:

  • You can schedule and send time-based content.
  • You can categorize your chats to send contextual messages/content, and prioritize when you respond to them.
  • You can set up automated messages to handle a common pattern of conversations. In case you have to send the same message to many different people at different times, those cases can be automated.
  • You can assign specific conversations to be managed by your staff members.
  • Handling various languages, as we continue to find better ways to build language support.

Communications targeting a community are generally a good use case. Ex. community healthcare, or education and counseling where the beneficiaries need to seek information from time to time.

Glific helps with connecting over quick information as per the beneficiary needs or to build a long term connection with multiple touchpoints for a prolonged period.

Glific is suitable for use cases where your conversation can be handled through a chatbot structure.

Apart from these, we’ll be happy to hear from you with a potential use case and find ways to support it via Glific.

While Glific which is built on WA for business API is great to handle a large scale of communications, there are some cases which may not align for maximum output:

  • Handling a user base(beneficiaries) of less than 200-500 might not be very useful or cost-effective with Glific. And you may want to do that using WhatsApp groups or using personal phone numbers.
  • Using WhatsApp for communication will require you to use a menu-driven system to automate the conversations. Ex. users sending 1 will trigger one response and 2 will trigger another. This means, having a lot of options (more than 9) for beneficiaries to access will not find great support since indicating an option after 9 will be challenging over chats.
  • An unresponsive audience which means sending messages one way over longer periods of time would not be a great use case.
  • Using Glific for large scale surveys and data collection is also not a very good use case. You can collect some amount of data for now.

You need to have active interaction with 50+ people with 500+ incoming messages to get the numbers approved.

This is a manual process and can be applied via Gupshup or directly with WhatsApp.

Looking at alternative solutions, NGOs would have to build their own custom application to carry out conversations over WhatsApp for both the use cases Glific offers and any other custom features.

Some of the existing applications may pose challenges for onboarding and matching the use case for various NGOs. Most of them like Telegram, ChatWoot, Twilio will have an additional threshold of onboarding the beneficiaries onto these platforms.

On the other hand, the 24hr window for sending a session message to beneficiaries isn’t that big a concern as many workflows can be created to keep them engaged and to keep the 24hr window alive.

We’re continuously thinking of better ways to manage the 24hr session window and keep the conversations going.

With Glific we’re also working on better ways to reduce costs for some of the indirect uses such as setup, hosting etc… as much as possible so that, the budget only applies to the most important use. Glific being an open source product is a testament to that.

Running a pilot with 30-40 beneficiaries is a good first step. The pilot can help you discover:

  • How similar or different are the questions asked by your beneficiaries
  • Identify a pattern in conversations
  • Try a question-answer process with about 20 beneficiaries
  • Create an FAQ database based on your conversations
  • Create a set of data points you generally need to collect

These inputs can help create the right fitment between your communication needs and what Glific can offer.

Definitely. Glific is open source and the way we’re building the platform right from the beginning, organizations will have options to customize and build features into it for the specific use cases. It will also support webhooks and APIs to integrate with other applications.

WA for business API now does not support group functionality anymore. It was supported earlier and has been discontinued starting July 8, 2020.

NGOs wanting to use two-way chat platforms will have to orient their conversation structure and communication workflow to match with the 1-2-1 model.

It could be a good sign for many use cases to avoid the issue spams and losing connections. Also in many cases for user groups, the admin itself would be driven out by the members since knowing the admin and their credibility gets difficult as time passes and the group grows.

Yes, there are three steps that need to be checked off before starting with Glific since it relies on WA for business API:

  1. You will need to get a verified Facebook account to apply for the business API. Here are some steps to do that.
  2. Once that is done, you need a gupshup.com account also, which is our current WhatsApp business provider.
  3. Before that, it also helps if the org has done a small pilot project (with 20-100 users) from their personal phone or a WhatsApp business account. This gives them a better idea of how they might want to structure the interaction, to begin with.
  4. Once this is done, for all alpha and beta users, we’ll set up your Glific account to use.

Documenting a use case of conversation is a good idea too. Here’s a good example of use case created by Slam Out Loud. It is not the only way but a good reference. You may want to still keep in mind when documenting, that you’d be catering to 1000’s of stakeholders.

  1. You can refer to FunDza for their brilliant literacy program (here’s the link).
  2. You can also check out Arist and how they use WA for business to run the course program (here’s the link).

Glific is currently built as two different applications. The frontend and the backend exposing all the functionality via a GraphQL API. The frontend is a React application built using typescript, Apollo data graph platform, and Material UI components. The backend is an Elixir + Absinthe + PostgresDB application.

Glific is a free, libre, open source platform. As such you can download and use the codebase for free. While the platform per se is free, it is built on the WhatsApp Business API and there is a cost involved with sending and receiving messages via WhatsApp Business API. The exact cost of this depends on your Business Service Provider (BSP) Glific today using Gupshup.io as its BSP. Gupshup rates for India are 0.1 cent (7.5 paisa) to either send or receive a session message and 0.5 cent (38 paisa) to send an HSM message. Thus for example if your NGO is in touch with 1000 beneficiaries sending/receiving 40 messages from each of them and sending 10 nudge messages to them, your messaging cost will be $90 (INR 6,750) For the Glific consulting services run by ColoredCow, they have not yet determined rates. Our initial guess is that for low volumes, it will be in the range of INR 7,500. For higher volumes, it will be a percentage of the messaging costs.

Glific is designed to have built-in support for internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) from the early releases. The platform per se, does not constrain the NGO from using the language of its choice. Our goal is to add additional languages as we work with our pilot NGOs. Some of the advanced AI and ML technologies might be restricted to a smaller subset.

Glific enables integration with BigQuery and DataStudio to collate all the data from conversations and plot graphs and charts through an easy to use interface by Google. You can generate customised reports that may look something like this: Report example

WhatsApp is the regular communication platform available to all users, how we normally use, for personal 121 or group communications. WhatsApp for business is a separate app by WhatsApp specifically for small businesses to connect with their customers easily by using tools to automate, sort and quickly respond to messages. And lastly, WhatsApp allows medium and large businesses to use their Business API to build custom products on top of WhatsApp. Glific is an example of that. It runs on WhatsApp, meaning, a custom application built using Business API can interact with WhatsApp to get the relevant data, information and send/receive messages without disturbing the WhatsApp experience for the end users.

By itself, WhatsApp does not have a file/document management system. Using Glific you can send documents/files/video links in a separate message. And each document will be sent as a separate message.

The answer is yes and no both. You will be able to create a batch of users in Glific and can trigger messages to all of them at once. However, these messages will go out as 1:1 chats, think of broadcasting a message. But you will not be able to leverage group chatting functionality here, which means users cannot chat with each other. After you send a message to a group, each user will be able to respond to your message in a 1:1 format. Additionally, if there are users in the group/batch for whom the 24 hr session window is over, the message will not be sent to them. Other than that, you can use the group message feature to send a message to multiple users in one go.

After the Glific setup process, you will have a phone number that your users/stakeholders can message directly at, similar to messaging any other family or friend’s phone number. This will initiate a conversation between you and your users. You will be able to see their message on Glific. There are multiple ways to do this:

  1. Your users can save your number and message like any other contact
  2. You will also receive an optin link which you can share with your users. Click on this link to see how it will work > Optin to Glific whatsapp. Once this happens your users will be able to send you a message.
  3. They can also scan a QR code to onboard to your no. and begin chatting.

You can advertise your number in many ways to get users onboarded and start a conversation. 

  1. You can share the phone number and QR code on print materials or digital communications
  2. You can place a push button on your website which redirects users to optin link

To be a part of Glific pilot you’ll need these three things:

  1. Your use case and how you plan to use it. For what programs, the scale etc…
  2. Your proposed workflow. See here for an example from Slam Out Loud: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CQAFkDsktgk-2dUb_qOkeVZyLuObCyBql5wI3V3kT2E/edit
  3. Details and description of any pilot experiments your NGO has done using their personal whatsapp account

To be a part of Glific pilot you’ll need these three things:

  1. Your use case and how you plan to use it. For what programs, the scale etc…
  2. Your proposed workflow. See here for an example from Slam Out Loud: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CQAFkDsktgk-2dUb_qOkeVZyLuObCyBql5wI3V3kT2E/edit
  3. Details and description of any pilot experiments your NGO has done using their personal WhatsApp account

You can write to info@glific.org with these inputs and we can plan with you how to move forward.

All the data is stored locally on Glific servers. All NGOs will have complete access to their data. NGOs can also host Glific on their own servers.

Glific supports any number of your team members and partners to login in and access the platform. Glific also has a built in access control feature, so that the NGO admin can decide the level of access each team member has - Admin: Complete access to all the parts of the platform. Manager: Complete access to the platform except settings and staff management. Staff: Access only to the chat section and their groups. Access can be limited to chatting with all contacts or only to the ones in their assigned group. None: No access to the platform. They can’t login.

NGOs with an existing member base can advertise the phone no. where Glific will be set up along with other methods for opting in before you can send them a message. There is no feature to bulk upload or import contacts since WhatsApp only allows users to initiate the conversation to avoid spamming.

The Glific team will support the NGOs to learn and create automated conversation flows. However, NGOs will themselves have to prepare content and create the flows.

Since our aim for Glific is to build a great community, we’ll try to make it as simple as possible for self-hosted platforms to adopt new updates as per the version releases.

Sorry, SMS and IVR are not supported with Glific. Since it is built on top on WhatsApp. SMS may be employed later on to manage the fall through cases, and if the users do not have WhatsApp.

No, there’s no cost for signing up for WhatsApp business and neither for Glific. There’s a monthly subscription fee when you go the SaaS route for the platform. And the rest of the charges are pay per use for the number of messages you exchange.

Yes, in Glific, there is the concept of web-hooks that you can integrate with any data source. For common data sources like Google Sheets, we’ll have tighter built-in integration.

There are various ways you can do that. Channelise your whatsapp groups. If you run IVR broadcasts and call centers you can certainly onboard users from there. You can also send an SMS blast to your beneficiary contacts. Please also do let us know if you have any better mechanisms to achieve this.