The social media giant keeps adding tools to Facebook Pages for two-way communication between business and customers, just the start of a big push to position itself as the main channel for booking, buying, complaining, and all other things customer service. Much of these plans center on Facebook Messenger, the company’s instant messaging app.
Here’s the lineup (so far) of tools relevant to small biz, all of them free (so far). To be clear, use these as an addition, not a replacement to your ongoing posting to Facebook–you still need that to get on your customers’ News Feeds and stay on their minds.
Messaging from Ads on Facebook
A customer can click a “Send Message” button in a Facebook local, mobile ad to launch Facebook Messenger and send a private message to the advertiser.
Private Replies to Posts
If a customer made a public complaint on a business Facebook Page, the business had to reply publicly. No more – replies can be made directly and privately.
Call to Action Buttons
Mobile Pages can now display a prominent button with “Book Now” or “Contact Us” or other get-it-done messages, linking to your website or app.
Live Chat for Business Websites
You’ve seen live chat apps, the little boxes to talk to customer service reps. This is Facebook’s move on that market, offering a version of Messenger installed on your site (you’ll need the Page plugin, the bit of software that also allows you to display Facebook posts on your site).
Away and Response-time Messages
This one really boosts the image of the Facebook Page as a customer service center: You can set a message on your Page with your average response time, telling customers they can expect to see a message back from you within minutes, an hour, several hours or a day—the same message appears in Messenger. Or you can set the message to “Away” after business hours. And here’s where it gets a bit game-ified: Facebook tracks your response times and rewards your page with a “very responsive to messages” badge if you’ve earned it.
An Inbox Like Customer Relationship Management Software
The new inbox for messages to a Facebook Page displays profile information about the sender and a history of past communication and orders. Page admins can add notes about customers and categorize them. All these are features you get in customer relationship management software. Of course, it’s not a complete CRM system since it only pulls data from Facebook. But that’s today. Facebook executives have big plans for Messenger to replace business websites and email as the single platform for online shopping, ecommerce and everything else that goes into customer relations online.