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Contact with the municipality is more difficult: 54 municipalities stop using WhatsApp

2019-12-06T11:41:58.018Z

54 Dutch municipalities will no longer be accessible to residents via WhatsApp from Saturday, according to a tour of NU.nl along all 355 Dutch municipalities. They are no longer allowed to use an external link to monitor incoming messages. This means a low-threshold way for residents to get in touch with the municipality.



54 Dutch municipalities will no longer be accessible to residents via WhatsApp from Saturday, according to a tour of NU.nl along all 355 Dutch municipalities. They are no longer allowed to use an external link to monitor incoming messages. This means a low-threshold way for residents to get in touch with the municipality.

Residents do not have to navigate through WhatsApp through a telephone selection menu or be on hold. "In particular, we regard the speed of being able to respond and answer incoming questions and the low threshold of the medium for our residents as major plus points," says the municipality of Midden-Groningen.

In the Netherlands, 189 municipalities used the chat service to answer questions from their residents. Of these 189 municipalities, 122 continue with the business version of WhatsApp. 54 municipalities stop the service. The other thirteen municipalities did not respond to e-mails, phone calls and apps from NU.nl.

WhatsApp has been offering a business version for companies since the beginning of last year. With this paid service, companies can talk to customers, set up automatic greetings, and view statistics about their messages.

"WhatsApp wants to earn itself from using the app"

Many municipalities did not use WhatsApp Business, but an external API, a sort of link between WhatsApp and a dashboard on which municipalities can monitor all social media. They had all communication on one screen and could answer the questions via that dashboard. This allowed several employees to respond to WhatsAppjes from residents at the same time.

This external connection may no longer be used by WhatsApp. "They want to earn money from it themselves," says Frank Bruijninckx of HowAboutYou, the company that provides this external link to various municipalities. "From December 7, WhatsApp only allows the use of their official business applications."

For municipalities, this means in concrete terms that they can no longer use a clear dashboard and can answer the questions with several colleagues at the same time. Just like all private WhatsApp users, they will receive all messages and send apps via one phone. 54 municipalities therefore think this is too much hassle.

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"This is not workable for us"

The municipality of Bergeijk stops using WhatsApp because the chat service in that municipality was used very rarely. "On average, about 20 WhatsApp messages came in every month. This turned out to be mainly about loose sidewalk tiles, non-working street lighting and the like. Each and every one of these reports is not urgent and can be reported through other channels." , let a spokesperson for the municipality know to NU.nl.

The municipality of Moerdijk also stops WhatsApp and is disappointed. "As a municipality, we are very satisfied with this fast and accessible way of contacting our residents and businesses. It is therefore very unfortunate that we have to stop. But the alternatives that are now offered to temporarily continue using WhatsApp are not for us workable. "

Amsterdam is not over yet. "Now we are answering apps with a whole team at the same time. After Friday this can only be done by one person at a time. If we cannot get this new system well-timed and well-equipped, then we are forced to stop WhatsApp - temporarily or not."

Purmerend will continue with the chat service. "At the moment we have about 120 conversations a week via WhatsApp and our residents find it a nice channel to contact the municipality." The municipality of Groningen is also continuing with WhatsApp because the app is used there by many residents.

For many municipalities, the Whatsapp stop is temporary

Many of the municipalities that stop are planning to switch to the paid version in the spring. The WhatsApp stop is therefore temporary. The municipalities that do continue with WhatsApp will switch to the business version. Residents do not notice anything else.

Some of the municipalities that stop using WhatsApp indicate that they are switching to a live chat on their website. Others switch to texting or refer to the other contact options on their website.

The map below shows which municipalities will still use WhatsApp after Friday and which will stop.

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We have questions at WhatsApp about the decision not to give municipalities access to the API. As soon as we have received a response to these questions, we will complete this article.

Source: nunl

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