Facebook Is Transforming Pages Into a Customer Service Hub

Pages has long been a powerful resource for marketers maintaining a Facebook brand presence, but the social network is launching new capabilities to enhance the platform's customer service features. With better engagement tracking and an emphasis on faster response times, Facebook is enabling brands to deliver an improved social customer service experience in real time.

One of the key improvement areas has been private messaging, which has become a popular route for consumers trying to get in touch with brands. Since last year, the number of users sending private messages has doubled, Facebook says, leaving brands with a growing volume of messages to handle. The updated inbox provides more organization and workflow control, with messages displayed in reverse chronological order as they would be in an email inbox. There’s also greater insight into other engagements directly within the message inbox—for example, brands can see public comments that a specific customer has left, as well as gain full visibility into previous interactions.

Customer service representatives tasked with managing the comments and messages will now also be able to add notes to message threads, filling in information such as order numbers, tracking, or details about a previous problem, as well as tag messages for easier sorting and search.

Though analysts praise Facebook’s effort to inject more customer service capabilities into the Pages feature, some wonder why it took the company so long to get on board. “Because FB has waited so long to see this as a viable service, most customer service vendors have already figured out how to triage [requests from social media] to customer service,” says Natalie Petouhoff, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

One unique feature that may be a redeeming factor, however, is the response time display. Companies can now set their average response time to several minutes, hours, or days, or opt to have Facebook set the response time automatically, depending on how quickly they get back to customers. Most companies are striving to decrease their average response time to less than five minutes. Additionally, companies can also set "away hours," so that when a customer tries to send a message during this off time, they can immediately see when a representative will be back to receive and respond to the message.

For companies that already have social customer service solutions in place, even the most compelling new features may seem redundant. For small businesses with limited budgets, on the other hand, this may be a game changer. “As FB is looking for new ways to monetize its platform further, helping SMBs to support their customers better is a promising strategy,” says Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “SMBs need help with the customer service function, as they usually don't have a full-fledged or Facebook integrated customer service function.”

Despite the delay, this is an important strategic move for Facebook. “It marks its first foray into classic enterprise software, in this case CRM,” Mueller points out.





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