If you’re not using Facebook Messenger for customer service, 2018 is the year you need to start. According to a recent report from Gartner (available to clients), “by 2019, requests for customer support through consumer mobile messaging apps will exceed requests for customer support through traditional social media.” This means that sending an angry tweet or posting on your company’s Facebook wall won’t be as enticing or effective as firing over a quick message.

If Gartner’s predictions are right (and they generally are), you have roughly one year to ramp up your consumer messaging game and start speaking with customers through Messenger.

But why choose Facebook Messenger? And why for customer service? I’ll go through three reasons why you should start using Facebook Messenger for customer service.

1) It works

The use of consumer messaging apps like Line, WeChat and Messenger (and soon, WhatsApp) are picking up steam among businesses, but as of yet, only their use for customer service has proven to be sustainable. Ecommerce and marketing departments have dabbled with messaging apps, but with varying degrees of success.

Source: Digiday

Everlane, Facebook’s poster-child for the marriage between eCommerce and Messenger, decided to dump the messaging service for sending purchase and order updates to customers, opting instead to use good old fashioned emails for purchase-related communication.

Marriott Hotels similarly felt the effects of its own misuse of Messenger when it tried to send targeted ad campaigns to some of its users, who instead felt as if they were receiving unsolicited spam to their Messenger inboxes. Yet, both companies continue using Facebook Messenger for customer service.

Why? Because using a messaging app for customer service is much more familiar. It’s similarity to live chat– an already popular channel for customer support– coupled with the familiarity of the social platform make a strong case for adoption.

According to Gartner, messaging apps outshine traditional methods of customer support like social media, especially when considering privacy and user experience.

“As compared to social media — a channel to which messaging services are commonly compared — messaging apps provide a one-to-one engagement environment for customer service representatives to gather the personal and order information they need in order to fully close out support cases. Customers can start and end their entire support issue within a messaging app, which is already an improvement from social media, but they can also do so in a time frame that suits them.”

While other use cases for Messenger can’t be written off completely, a bit more maturity with the technology (especially bots, which I’ll touch on later) will help

2) It’s a global leader

If you think social media is ubiquitous, consider this stat from Gartner:

“The user base of the top four messaging apps combined has surpassed the user base of the top four social networks, as WhatsApp has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users, followed by Facebook Messenger with 1.2 billion users, and WeChat with 889 million users.”

These gargantuan usage numbers indicate a real opportunity to connect with customers on a platform where they’re already present. Despite WhatsApp leading by a cool 100 million users, it’s only just launched its feature set for business use (literally as I was writing this). It’s currently only available in a limited number of markets and only for Android, although it does plan to expand shortly. While WhatsApp works it out, Facebook Messenger remains at the top of the pack (for now) when considering not only which platform could target the largest audience, but one which offers the right functionality for businesses.

Of course, one thing to remember is that messaging apps are largely regional. While WhatsApp is popular in Europe and South America, Line dominates Japan, and WeChat is popular in China. Having said that, English speaking countries like Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia mostly use Messenger.

Using Facebook Messenger for Customer Service

Source: Gartner

3) It’s easy

Because it’s tied to the world’s largest social network, using Facebook Messenger for customer service is easy to get started with. It works in an existing ecosystem and is being continuously improved in order to cater to business use.

This article outlines just how easy it is to set up a Messenger for your business. As long as your business has a Facebook page (and most do these days), it only takes the click of a button. From there, you can configure settings for response times and auto replies, personalize messages, and add keywords or notes to conversations for better tracking and organization.

As Facebook continues to improve its offering for business, it’s adding new features. It’s recently announced a Customer Chat Plugin so that companies can incorporate Messenger into their website (it’s still in closed beta). The most recent version also includes more tools for engagement, CTA buttons, and message tags.

Bots are another big benefit for Messenger. While its foray into AI and bot technology has stagnated a bit, more basic uses of the technology continue to offer automation options for simplifying and streamlining the support process.

As Garter notes:

“Organizations can follow both an assisted- and self-service-driven approach to engage their consumers over these service channels. In only the assisted approach will consumers be interacting with a human agent who can help them in an asynchronous conversation.

With a self-service approach, organizations can deploy chatbots to answer simple questions pertaining to one or very limited use cases. This will help to deflect simpler customer service issues with no human involvement. The chatbots can transfer the conversation to human agents for more complex requests.”

Messenger also allows for integration with existing and popular support tools like Zendesk and LiveChat to make the support process more seamless for both the customer service agents and the customers.

Thumbs up for Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps are paving the way for a new breed of customer service that’s more personal, quicker, and easier to access.

  • Because of it’s familiarity and similarity to live chat, Facebook Messenger isn’t a huge stretch for customer service use.
  • Messenger is among the global leaders when it comes to usage, providing a good opportunity for user adoption of the platform for customer service requests.
  • Facebook offers the infrastructure to set up Messenger for business and integrate it with other software, as well as developing bots to help automate the customer service process.

Despite it not being quite up to snuff for eCommerce or marketing, the potential is there. WhatsApp throwing its hat into the business messaging ring is sure to heat things up, but while the product gains maturity, Messenger is a good bet. Using Facebook Messenger for customer service first is a good test run; it will whet your palate to the potential of the platform.

If you want to learn more about using messagings apps in your business:

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