Customer service managers, did you know that you’re about to get hit with customer service complaints about your company via Facebook Messenger?
“What’s that?” you say. “We’re not even on Facebook Messenger. We have a Facebook page but we don’t have a Messenger account!”
Well, yeah, you will soon. In just a few short weeks.
Facebook recently announced a slew of new features at their F8 conference to make Business for Messenger an enticing place for brands to play, including developing a customer support channel within the platform. As with anything Facebook, early adopters will reap the most benefits and rewards, so we recommend that you start developing strategies and apps now for this 600 million member (and growing) social platform.
Business for Messenger: The Basics
Facebook sees itself not as one unified platform, but as five distinct platforms that form a family of services. Each platform offers distinct opportunities for people and brands to connect and interact, and requires its own unique strategy for marketers and service managers. These platforms are: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Groups, and What’s App.
Messenger’s popularity has surprisingly exceeded expectations since it was culled out as its own mobile app platform just last year, with people making it a personal communication hub where they talk and share photos, video, and mobile apps with individual friends, small groups, and soon, businesses.
The most significant enhancements launching in the new Business for Messenger that will affect most customer service managers and social marketers are:
- Direct messaging between customers and businesses that maintains a history of conversations and interactions
- New functionality to embed photos and video into a conversation thread
- New apps that can be downloaded and leveraged directly in a Messenger conversation
In a nutshell, what this means for customer service managers is that there is a new customer service channel in play where you can replace or augment phone and email support and communicate with customers; send them copies of receipts, help, or instructional videos; or ask them to download an app to complete a transaction.
Imagine a scenario in which a customer buys from your website, and as part of the ordering process is asked to receive follow-up notifications via Messenger. From there, the brand can email the receipt and customers can direct follow-up questions, track their purchases and delivery schedule, send customer support requests, ask for product help, and download your mobile app without having to ever leave Messenger.
What businesses get in return is a means to tie sales, social marketing, service, and mobile access in one tidy little bundle. The data collection possibilities are nearly endless, but gaining a persistent and prominent connection to your customer’s mobile device is priceless.
Businesses have been trying to create a viable, profitable, and traceable mobile strategy for years, and Facebook has just come up with the solution. They are giving brands direct access to a user base of 600 million active mobile users that promises to grow to one billion users in two years or less.
Business for Messenger: Advanced
This is a huge disruption, as well as a game-changer. Once a backwater of customer service, social media is rapidly becoming the preferred method of choice for customers to reach out to their brands. Facebook’s plans for Messenger aggressively put social media front and center.
Facebook sees Messenger as the next playing field for customer service, replacing the telephone and email. Messenger offers the ability to permanently track interactions between customer and brand, and combined with the video/audio feature, can allow brands and customers to send photos of issues, receipts, instructions, and resolutions instead of shuffling off to a CRM system or email.
One huge benefit for brands doing customer service on Messenger is that it brings customer service back to a one-on-one interaction instead of a public flogging. Customer service issues on Facebook and Twitter today are public issues seen by everyone, with additional steps required to take the conversation private by direct messaging.
With Business for Messenger, fewer customer complaints will be visible to the mainstream, which not only makes for more effective customer service, but helps to manage brand reputation as well.
Challenges for Customer Care Managers
While it’s one thing for a customer to have a permanent record of their interaction with a brand in their Message thread (and make no mistake — these new features will hugely benefit customers with their added convenience), it’s quite another for a brand to manage all these transactional conversations at scale. It is not yet known what kind of tools Facebook will release to help brands manage this new customer support stream.
LiveWorld will be able to aggregate these social customer service conversations with our Social Content Marketing Suite, so help is on the way. As an added feature, LiveWorld’s tools will combine Business for Messenger data and conversation streams with brand conversations across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to give a comprehensive look and insights into your customer interactions across all of your social marketing platforms.
Facebook’s endgame does away with existing phone and email support in which customers have to go to several different apps in order to converse with businesses. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared war on phone support by saying “nobody likes going to phone support any more,” while noting that switching between email programs and a company’s website for online customer service isn’t a very mobile-device friendly approach — and in the new world order, most communications are going to be via mobile devices.
Bringing purchasing, support and follow up sales opportunities into one app is certainly a logical next step, and one that will appeal to millennials and Gen X mobile users.
We Recommend: Plan Now to Launch in 3-6 Months
History has shown time and time again that early adopters get the most rewards from advances in social platforms, while those who wait to see what everyone else is doing end up spending more money to get fewer benefits.
In this case, we recommend jumping on the bandwagon NOW, because you will need to have a business presence on Messenger in 1-2 years from now anyway. It will simply be another way that customers expect to contact you when they need help, and you should get additional benefits by being the first to take a look at developing apps and services for Messenger.
The ability to embed audio, photos, and video into Messenger has already rolled out, and more information can be found here, https://messenger.com/platform. The ability to connect to brands in Messenger is still a couple of months away. The apps developer kits for Businesses on Messenger will be found at https://messenger.com/business.
Smart brands will look at the Messenger platform as a way of having a deeply personal and intimate experience with individuals or small groups of people on mobile devices — Start planning that experience now with the intent to launch within the next 6 months.
Have questions about any of the new Business for Messenger features or strategies for how to use them? Please ask in the comments or shoot me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org