5 New Ways Businesses Can Connect With Customers Via Facebook Messenger

With messaging growing and a billion people visiting Pages every month Facebook has opened up Messenger for businesses to communicate with customers effectively

Today mobile is the first love for most of us. We start our day with it and go to bed while still checking our notifications. The latest We are Social report on the digital state in India highlighted that Indians spend the most time on social networking followed by uploading videos. Earlier this year the influential Mary Meeker report in its annual assessment of the Internet economy highlighted that 65% of Indian Internet traffic is dominated by mobile.

The same report also informed that in India in Q1, 2015 - out of 10 Android apps 3 were messaging apps - WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and the homegrown Hike, clearly indicating that mobile messaging has gradually become the common mode of communication trumping SMS.

As per the research by GlobalWebIndex, APAC and India in particular are the biggest markets for mobile messaging. The study further stated that the use of mobile messaging applications has increased 113 percent year-over-year in 2014 and is showing no signs of decline.

With both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger dominating the messaging space, early this year Facebook started working on ideas to connect businesses with customers over messaging. Facebook-owned WhatsApp with 900 million active users has so far stayed away from opening up for businesses but the same is not true for Facebook Messenger.

Messenger, Facebook’s second messaging app with more than 700 million monthly active users has now evolved into a platform. Announcing at this year’s F8 - Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company said that Messenger users from here on would be able to create and share content with third-party tools, and communicate directly with businesses rather than calling or emailing them. With more than 40 new apps, people also got a chance to enhance their conversations with GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and more.

Over a billion people visit Pages every month looking for more information from businesses. Hence it becomes imperative for businesses to consider Messenger seriously. Listed below are 5 interesting ways in which businesses can use Messenger to communicate effectively with their customers on the go:

1. Businesses on Messenger

At the F8, Facebook gave a preview of Businesses on Messenger, that enhances communications and interactions between people and businesses.

With Businesses on Messenger, people can have rich and personal conversations with businesses. For example, after purchasing something from a website, people can choose to receive updates in Messenger and continue their conversation with the business in the app. With this feature Facebook is removing the pain of customer service calls or the endless emails.

FB messenger_business-2

Messenger for business will allow customers to receive relevant messages from the business including order confirmations and shipping status updates, and will be able to take basic actions like modifying, tracking or returning an order. People will also have the option to ask a business question, make requests and get quick responses.

This whole set of interactions and features are unified in a single, ongoing thread between the person and the business. For example, if you bought something through a Facebook partner, but want to modify, track, or return your order, you’ll be able to contact the business through Messenger.

For now Facebook is working with an initial set of partners in US including Everlane and Zulily to change how people contact them.

2. Messaging via local awareness ads

Earlier in May, Facebook built a “call” button for more than 40 million businesses who have Facebook pages. The objective was to tap on the button and call the business directly. Facebook called these as “local awareness ads” as it opened up more direct-response marketing opportunities on the network, which previously only offered businesses the ability to ask users for Likes or a button for directions.

Facebook is now letting users respond to local-awareness ads with private messages, turning the promos into customer-service tools. The new “Send Message” call-to-action button for local awareness ads allows people to initiate private conversations with business Pages from News Feed ads, giving people a personal way to connect with businesses directly from ads.

Messaging local awareness ads

When someone clicks on the “Send Message” button in an ad, the Facebook Messenger window opens for them to write and send messages to the business. Incoming messages to Pages include an attachment that shows which ad prompted the person to reach out, and once someone initiates a message with the business, the business can reply and follow-up as necessary.

Advertisers can start using the “Send Message” call-to-action button by creating a new local awareness ad and selecting “Send Message” in the “Call to Action” field.

3. Replying comments privately

The latest announcement in making Facebook a customer support hub, the network has announced that businesses will soon be able to respond to customer questions and complaints privately.

Now, Page admins will have the option to message customers by clicking “Message” and open a private thread. The new thread will include a link to the original comment, which will eliminate the need for customers to repeat questions.

Facebook Customer Support Messaging

This is a big update as till now Pages could respond in the same channel in which the incoming message was posted, for instance a reply to a comment or a post on a Pages’ wall.

To make sure the messaging experience is valuable for both businesses and people, Facebook has built additional tools to help people manage messages, including an option to block private messages from businesses.

4. Identifying responsive pages

A recent study done by Locowise, a social media analytics and reporting service, which studied more than 900 Facebook pages, found that customer service on Facebook is less than adequate. 87% of all messages go unanswered completely and of those pages that did respond, they did so selectively – answering only 37% of all posts.

To encourage the platform’s use for customer service, Facebook has created a new way to signal that a company is responsive, a badge stating that a Page is “Very responsive to messages.”

Facebook Pages Responsive

Responsiveness ratings are dynamic and calculated based on data from the last seven days. All Page admins will now see their Page’s response rate and median response time in Page Insights, but, for now, only the Pages who meet the 90% response rate and less-than-five-minute response time will have the public badge.

5. Saved Replies and better managing messages

Earlier in June, it was reported that Facebook is testing a messaging feature for Pages that enables businesses to create, save and send canned responses to frequently asked customer service questions and feedback.

Called “Saved Replies,” the tool could be big time saver for businesses that receive a large number of questions from customers on Facebook. It’s part of the Facebook messaging interface within Pages and is apparently available to a small group of Pages. Those with access are presented with sample responses that they can use or customize. They also can create new replies and save them for later use. For companies that create a large number of replies, there’s also a way to search within them.

Additionally, Facebook also updated the admin inbox to make it easier to keep track of messages. Page admins can now conduct the following actions in bulk: archive, delete, flag and mark messages as read, unread and spam.