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Latest 09 Aug 2018 | Customer Service | 5 min read

Why 2018 is the year of Facebook Messenger

“2018 will be the year that Messenger becomes the most important channel for brands, companies, retailers, and individuals to interact with their audiences.”

AdWeek didn't mince words this May when it wrote the above.

The era of Messenger is here. It’s what Facebook itself was always intended to be – a hub for all things consumer and business and consumer-to-business and its arrival has deep implications for any brand that communicates with people.

That’s because the rules for Messenger are different and the stakes higher.

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How will brands adapt? 

Today, your brand is no longer what you say it is – It’s what your customers tell their friends it is. Brands have equally little control over which channels they choose to offer support on: Rather than telling customers you can be reached by phone, you must follow consumers wherever they want to go, and 1.3 billion of them have gone to Messenger, where they’re 3.5x more engaged than they are in other places such as email.

Consumers also want to interact with businesses there, and Messenger has rolled out features to make those two-way interactions easier, such as a live chat feature for websites. But in some ways, interacting is harder.

Messenger is a private messaging channel, not a place for mass messaging or spam. Unlike an email database, marketers can’t blast their users without permission, and customer service professionals can’t send endless updates. Messenger is a place for conversations. Consumers expect sympathy and service at the back-and-forth speed of a real-time conversation with another human, even if they choose to step away and return days later.

For unprepared brands, Messenger can place additional strains on already stretched customer service organizations. To give consumers what they want, brands must:


1. Be There 

Facebook Messenger has grown beyond the early adopter phase. Consumers and brands trade over two billion messages per month, and it’s reached the level of ubiquity where consumers are confused when brands aren’t there. If consumers search Messenger for @YourBrand and find no results, it’s the 21st century version of not having a storefront.

Beyond having a presence, being on Facebook Messenger helps brands grow and learn. The sooner they engage in messaging channels, the better their support can adapt for what comes next. Because, if anything is certain about the digital age, it’s that more change is coming.

2. Coordinate across departments 

Support needs to coordinate with marketing now more than ever. Messenger gets greater engagement because it’s a more personal way to converse. That makes the cost of annoying customers higher. If spamming someone via email is like sending an unwanted postcard, spamming them via Messenger is akin to knocking on their door during dinner.

Platforms are the key to coordination. Businesses have no choice but to standardize their support across phone, email, social media, and messaging, and a digital support platform consolidates them all into a single agent dashboard so integrated teams can provide more consistent support.

3. Conduct CX research 

A great number of consumers want support on Messenger. But how do your consumers in particular feel? What about each of your different customer personas? To find out, brands must invest in UX design, research projects, and task analyses to understand what their customers are doing on Messenger.

“It’s important to audit and understand the way customers try to achieve their goals on digital platforms, but just as important to understand why,” Josh Decker, a UX research consultant, told The Conversation. “That’s how you find ways to eliminate steps, speed things up, and make them happier.”

For example:

  • What triggers customers to request support on Messenger?
  • How do they access Messenger?
  • What do they expect from the interaction?
  • What does a positive outcome look like?

Research is the only way that brands discover things like how 80 percent of customer interactions can be automated, and that regardless of people’s stated preferences about how they prefer help from humans, their revealed behaviors show that they often appreciate the speed and efficiency of chatbots.


The future of Messenger 

Brands that exceed customer expectations in the era of Facebook Messenger will be those that show up, present a united front, and strive to understand their customers’ needs. It’s the best way to offer satisfying support today, but also the key to being prepared for tomorrow.

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