WeChat Work Gets Serious about CRM

WeChat Work’s latest updates show they are taking CRM very seriously now. The update to version 2.7.5 on March 13th added a business card scanning tool, broadcast messaging to Customers, new profile tagging features, and more. You can read the original posts in Chinese for updates to the user apps and admin backend. This latest update builds on the previous update that saw Tencent rebrand “external contacts” as simply Customers, a major part of their 2019 strategy.


WeChat Work CRM

The most exciting feature for your sales team is likely the addition of a group broadcast messaging assistant (群发助手) for employees to message some or all of their WeChat contacts from WCW. Open the WCW Contact Customers app, tap on Broadcast Messages in the Tools section, select all or a segmentation of your customers and then fire off a message.

Left: Select recipients, add text and images; Right: A group holiday greeting and image sent to Customers

Similarly, admin users can distribute a company service message (企业客户发送服务消息) for employees to forward to their customers. This option supports text plus a photo, web page, or even Mini-Program page. Company messages are currently limited to once per week per customer. From the Contact Customers app in WCW, the admin can choose “Company message to customers” from the Tools tab.


From there you can prepare a new message and view your past messages to track how many employees have chosen to forward the company message to their customers.


Employees receive a notification in their Customer app when a company service message has been assigned to them.

The employee can preview the post and then choose to forward the message on to their customer.

The recipient gets the forwarded company message in WeChat, in the one-to-one chat thread with the employee. There aren’t a lot of formatting options yet.

The WeChat Work QR code scanner now doubles as a business card scanner (扫描纸质名片). In our testing, it surprisingly worked only slightly better than 50% of the time. We assume Tencent will improve on this, as some of the WCW third-party CRM apps already have much better performing business card scanners. The third-party apps, however, aren’t able to connect you with the customer’s WeChat contact. This is a big deal.

If the business card owner has both WeChat and WCW users, then you have the option to connect with either or both accounts. The scanned card is saved to their profile and some profile data is imported from running optical character recognization on the scan.

Companies can now set custom company tags (企业客户标签) for employees to use on Customer profiles. Tags can then be used, for example, to segment recipients when sending out broadcast and company messages. If you are a WCW admin, go to the Settings tab in the WCW Customers app and select “Company customer tag”.

From there you can create new tag groups and populate them with tags. When employees edit a Customer profile in WCW they have the company tags as well as a section for their personal tags.

You can now designate group-level admin to manage Customers for different employee departments and segment reporting by department.


Group chats with a mix of WeChat and WCW users now support up to twenty members.

Friend requests received in WeChat now give recipients who are using WCW the option to add the user as an external contact in their WCW account instead of in WeChat.

WeChat Pay

Integration with WeChat Pay now supports connecting multiple company WeChat Pay accounts to a WCW Account, as well as the reverse, connecting multiple WCW accounts to a shared WeChat Pay account. And you can now apply for a WeChat Pay account directly from the WCW backend without having to re-submit all of your business documents again.

Other Updates

The Punch In/Out app ( 打卡) now supports managing work schedules by shifts from the WCW mobile app. You can use the desktop backend if you need bulk import/export of your schedules and reports.


The Approvals App (审批) gets more granular controls especially suited for larger enterprises. The company can now set custom approval levels depending on the employee. You can also set a maximum number of days for leave requests, and employees who belong to multiple departments can now designate the most appropriate department to submit their application.

Borrowing from WeChat, WCW now lets an employee set a personal name for a coworker, as well as make notes on employee profiles.


  • The Report app (汇报) now supports exports to PDF.
  • The group chat by department feature, to automatically add and remove employees to department-wide group chats as they are added or removed to departments, apparently works now. (The feature has been an option on the WCW backend since the beginning).
  • Video calls made from the WCW desktop app now support full screen viewing.
  • The bulk upload feature for adding employees to your WCW backend now supports uploading employees belonging to different companies.
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Customer Service WeChat Official Accounts

WeChat for Customer Service

One of the biggest challenges our clients face, that will ultimately determine how much value they derive from our product, is how successful they can be encouraging conversations with their followers on WeChat.
By the time they sign up for Grata, they have already bought into the value of using WeChat for customer service, primarily because either 1) they have an existing call center and want to drive phone and email traffic to WeChat to reduce costs, or 2) their business competes on good service and they recognize the service upgrade this represents to their customers.
As clients roll out Grata, we strongly encourage them to simultaneously deploy a marketing effort that communicates the newly upgraded value of their WeChat Official Account. If businesses don’t tell their followers when their online, how responsive they are, and what kind of things they can help with, not many people are going to message them. Businesses are fighting against the status quo in which most Official Accounts are bad about responding to messages from followers. This low expectation on the part of WeChat users, however, means it is relatively easy to surprise and delight followers with a fast response from a real human.

Tell new followers how they can use your account

WeChat can automatically send a stored welcome message whenever someone follows your account. This is the perfect time to introduce to your new follower what services your Official Account provides.
WeChat Follower Welcome Message Grata additionally allows you to store multilingual welcome messages so followers are greeted in their own language.

Use personalized WeChat agents

WeChat allows verified Official Accounts to use up to 100 custom avatars and agent names when chatting with followers (you can request more if needed). There are many advantages to using personalized agent names. Specific to this post, when you use custom agent identities, WeChat will automatically add a “Customer Service Staff” row to your account profile and display one of your agents. This signals to followers that you are indeed replying to messages.
WeChat Customer Service Staff

Use WeChat menus to prompt conversations

One of our favorite methods of engaging WeChat followers is to expose a small directory of contacts. This has two benefits: 1) By listing teams or departments, it seeds the idea of what kind of services you provide through WeChat, and 2) Grata can route to different teams based on which button the user presses. It can look something like this for a hotel guest:
WeChat Menu Routing Each menu button can send a stored text message letting the user know in more detail what services are provided. If the user replies to that prompt, a new chat notification will be sent to the corresponding team.

Manage expectations with auto-replies

Responsive service often has a lot to do with managing customer expectations. One good way to manage expectations is to setup an automatic reply based on the status of your agents. Let users know they can expect an immediate reply when agents are online or give them alternate contact information if your agents are offline. Here’s what that setup looks like in Grata:
Online-Offline Auto-Greeting

Optimize for a quick first response

The first reply from a live agent is the most important factor in putting your customer at ease. Ideally, after your customer sees a face, a name, and knows that your team is “on it”, she can put her phone down and wait for a notification when the request/issue is resolved. Use personalized quick replies to get the fastest response from an agent. What your customers sees:
New Chat
In Grata, use “$username” and “$agentname” to personalize quick replies.

Route conversations back to previous agent

One of the most frustrating service experiences for a customer is having to repeat himself. While a lot of this friction is automatically avoided by using a digital channel like WeChat — all chat history is easily viewable by any agent in Grata — it still is a relief to talk to the agent that has the best understanding of your issue. Make your WeChat Official Account a more personal channel and reward returning customers by always routing back to the previous agent first.

Call-to-action in outbound marketing

While most businesses use their WeChat Official Account for regular outbound marketing, many miss the bigger opportunity by doing a poor job converting leads. Your followers are reading your posts in a messaging app — take advantage of that! If you have live agents ready to take incoming chats, make the call to action at the bottom of your post to simply close the article and send a message to you to book/buy/order/etc.
Call to Action

QR Codes Everywhere

If your going to use your Official Account for driving customer service, you should put your QR Code everywhere you put your business’ phone number. The best businesses also explain to their customers why they should scan the QR code and even embed relevant contextual data in each unique QR code.
The text alongside the QR code should explain the value proposition and is ideally unique for each QR code placement. For a hotel, the taxi card QR code might be accompanied by a suggestion to “Contact us for in-travel assistance, recommendations, and help getting around town”, while the QR code on the booking confirmation email might read “Contact us 24/7 for pre-arrival arrangements or to book a convenient airport pickup”.
If you’re using a WeChat Service Account, you can use unique “parametric” QR codes to not only track the performance of each placement, but also to embed routing rules (eg. so your taxi card QR code routes directly to the concierge) and alert agents to the context of the current conversation. Consider giving a unique parametric QR code to each staff member for their business cards and email signatures. When one of their contacts messages your Official Account, you can setup routing rules to notify that individual staff member first.

Email Signature

Hotel Frontdesk QR Code

WeChat Feature Request

What would really be helpful for driving customer service conversations in WeChat, is if WeChat would borrow a feature from Facebook and display how responsive Official Accounts are to their followers. This would be the perfect way to manage user expectations and would also encourage Official Accounts to actually be more responsive!
Messenger Responsiveness
If you have a verified WeChat Official Account and want to be more responsive to your followers, register an account at or scan the QR code below to get in touch with our team for assistance. You’ll get a quick answer to any of your questions during normal business hours, China Standard Time [see what we did there?].

Facebook Messenger

Facebook to Launch Business for Messenger

At the Facebook Developer Conference today, one of the major announcement in the keynote was the imminent launch of Business for Messenger. Head of Messenger, David Marcus, said they want to “reinvent how people and businesses communicate”.

Business for Messenger clearly borrows several things from WeChat’s Official Account platform, but it appears initially focused on e-commerce where as WeChat Official Accounts started from content distribution.

Like WeChat, Facebook is creating a way to commingle business and people together in your Messenger contacts. Notice in the image below that Messenger communicates the online status of the business so consumers have an expectation of response time, a feature missing from WeChat.

facebook messenger business contacts
E-commerce shops Everlane and zulily are two pre-launch partners.

Interestingly, Facebook demonstrates the connection starting on the web — specifically the shopping cart — and moving to mobile via the user’s Facebook web log-in. WeChat has yet to roll out similar web tools and most following of WeChat Official Accounts happens via QR codes.


User’s will get a push notification when the business messages them.

business-push-notification-messenger Business for Messenger will initially support sending and receiving text and images, as well as custom layout cards for the business. The most interesting of these are (almost) real-time package tracking that updates in the card.

Business for Messenger is slated to support open integration with other chat providers, so in the near future you’ll be able to manage customer service through WeChat, web chat, and Messenger simultaneously in your Grata Console.

Capture4 twitter-share-10 twitter-share-11 twitter-share-12 Images courtesy Business for Messenger.

WeChat Official Accounts

Managing Multiple WeChat Official Accounts


One of the foundations for a brand’s success on WeChat is setting a unified brand strategy for managing multiple WeChat official accounts. In our last post, we wrote about helping your customers find your official accounts by policing fake accounts and trademark infringement Equally important for large brands, with potentially hundreds of official accounts, is your internal strategy. Let’s look again at what a BMW customer or sales lead sees when she searches for “BMW” or “宝马” official accounts. Not only does she have to filter through several fake accounts, she also has to navigate over two-hundred individual dealerships. 

wechat-manage-multiple-accounts-bmw-search-results wechat-manage-multiple-accounts-baoma-search-results

Like any brand with outlets or subsidiaries, individual BMW dealerships have their own management, their own deals that they offer, and of course their own WeChat official accounts. How can BMW funnel users to the account that will best be able to help them? What are the best practices for protecting your brand standard experience and providing unified messaging across multiple channels?

Standardize Your WeChat Account Branding

Looking at the list above, BMW account names mostly follow a similar format to designate the dealership. Their icons are mostly similar and many of the dealers have verified their accounts. At the same time, there’s no obvious unified account for BMW and we get different results searching in Chinese versus English.

These issues aren’t unique to auto manufacturers. Chains, franchises, and subsidiaries of any kind need to provide both a brand standard experience and localized service. It’s important to have policies in place to avoid confusion, and help customers find your accounts.

  1. Set account name and branding conventions. Have all of your subsidiaries register WeChat accounts that follow a specific name format makes it more likely that they will appear together in search, and helps distinguish them from fake or similarly-named accounts (fan clubs, etc.). Provide a template for your subsidiaries to use when creating their icon. Note: You cannot change an account name or WeChat ID after it is set, but the icon can be updated once every thirty days.
  2. Verify all official accounts. WeChat lists verified accounts first in search results, and the verified badge gives customers confidence that they have found an official channel.
  3. Set an account promotion strategy. Most account discovery is happening through QR codes. Help customers by standardizing where they can find your QR codes, both offline and online. Consider requiring that any subsidiary promotional materials include your brand’s official account QR code alongside the subsidiary QR code.
  4. Enforce content and usage guidelines. This is an obvious one, but there are special considerations for WeChat. Beyond what content and how often accounts broadcast messages, how fast are you as a brand responding to customer service inquiries? If subsidiary accounts are using WeChat menus, consider setting a template so when a user visits another subsidiary account, that location’s contact information or local specials, for example, are in the same place.

Interconnect Your Official Accounts

If your brand uses WeChat for sales or customer service, subsidiaries can be valuable but challenging to integrate into fluid conversations. In our initial consultations with clients,  one of the most helpful exercises we do is map out all the possible user flows through their various officials accounts. Where are unknown/first-time users routed? If you’re not providing 24/7 support, how do you manage offline messages? How can you transfer conversations from your brand to a subsidiary and vice versa?

WeChat Userflows: What’s Possible

Take for example a hotel guest, who makes a last-minute booking through Marriott China’s WeChat account. At the end of the booking, can they hand off the user to the concierge at that property so she can book an airport pick-up?  Can they prevent the customer, who they already have in a dialog, from having to exit the conversation and page through all of Marriott China properties before finding the correct hotel’s WeChat account?

WeChat does not currently support either internal (agent-to-agent) or external (official account-to-official account) routing. However using WeChat’s public developer platform, Grata provides out-of-the-box internal routing for WeChat and can custom arrange solutions to solve for almost any external routing configuration. This works for brands operating under one consolidated WeChat official account or brands managing multiple WeChat Official Accounts.

WeChat Official Accounts routing UX diagram

The Value of Networked Accounts

The value to brands of interconnecting official accounts should not be underestimated. Here are four of the biggest gains:

  1. Shared WeChat CRM Database – One of the most important tasks when using WeChat for business is identifying who a user is from an often nondescript WeChat User ID. If you’ve already done this for a follower of one of your official accounts, why not make that information available when that user messages any agent across your entire chain?
  2. Simplified Account Discovery – Using Grata a follower of any one of your WeChat official accounts can be connected to any agent across your entire brand. Lessen the burden on your customer to locate the right official account and make brand loyalty more convenient.
  3. Cost Savings – It might be impractical for your outlets to all offer 24/7 support, or support in multiple languages, but one centralized customer care team makes this achievable for many brands. The central team can pick up messages in the off-hours, and subsidiary agents can transfer multilingual conversations to a native speaker with one-click.
  4. Brand Standard Quality of Care – If you want to roll out a consistent quality of care across your entire chain, the only way to really support this is by having visibility into all your brand’s official accounts and having a centralized customer care team to step in if any single subsidiary isn’t able to support the initiative. You can also share digital content and prepared responses across your brand so every subsidiary is using brand standard messaging.

If you want to learn more about how Grata can help you manage your brand’s WeChat Official Accounts, contact us, or if you already have a verified WeChat Official Account, take us for a free test drive.

Photo credit: rajomo1 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)