As part of its ongoing quest to make Facebook the only platform anyone ever needs to go to for anything, ever, Zuckerberg and Co have announced a range of new Page features this year designed to better personalize and improve the customer experience and get brands doing more of their business on Facebook.
Back in August, The Social Network introduced a set of new tools to better facilitate direct connection with Page visitors, including the ability to respond to Page comments via private message and display Page responsiveness with a new 'Very Responsive' badge, which was made available to Pages that responded to customer queries quickly. In September, they introduced an improved mobile layout for Pages and additional tools to help display company offerings. And now, Facebook's taking it a step further, with the announcement of new Page responsiveness options and improved interaction tracking - here's how the new options work.
Highlighting Page Responsiveness
When Facebook originally announced the new 'Very Responsive' badge, the parameters around which Pages qualified for the new tool were pretty restrictive.
"Pages that respond to 90% of messages and have a median response time of less than five minutes will now have a "Very responsive to messages" badge on their profiles."
This annoyed a lot of Page owners, some of whom pointed out that achieving that level of performance was simply not possible in certain circumstances.
In response, Facebook has now added a new range of options for brands to display their Page responsiveness, with a new tab added to Page admin.
"Starting this month all Pages can set the average time it takes for them to reply to messages. Admins can choose to show that they respond either "within minutes," "within an hour" "within hours" or "within a day". Average response times for Pages are calculated for each Page automatically and the response time shown on the Page defaults to their average response time, but admins can now control what response time shows publicly on their Page. So even if a Page typically responds to messages within an hour, they can set their visible response time to within a day and set customer expectations accordingly."
The new Page response times will also show up in Messenger threads when someone contacts your business, giving them a better idea of when to expect a response.
In addition, Pages will also now have the ability to set their status as 'away' to let visitors know when they are unavailable to respond, which will be visible on your Page. For brands that reach customers in multiple time zones, this tool will come in handy, as it's impossible for some businesses (particularly small ones) to respond in reasonable time if they're asleep on the other side of the planet. The 'away' option also alleviates one of the key concerns with the initial 'Very Responsive' badge:
"When this new feature is enabled, messages the Page receives do not count toward the Page's response rate."
Facebook has also added in 'Away Messages' and 'Instant Replies' tools which will enable Page admins to send automated responses to messages when they're not available to do so in person. Automated messages can be used to inform visitors of when they can expect a response, establishing a more realistic expectation with prospective customers.
New Page Inbox
Along with the new messaging features, Facebook has re-vamped the Page inbox to make it a more useful, resourceful tool to help brands improve and personalize the customer experience.
As you can see from the above image, the new inbox displays a range of additional information on every message thread, including past interactions the person has had with the Page and information from that person's profile, enabling businesses to better customize and personalize the customer experience. Page admins can also add notes about each person, making it easier to keep a record of their purchase history and preferences, and there's an option to tag and categorize conversations to keep track of them in a more targeted manner (and worth noting, notes and tags are visible to Page admins only).
Improved Comment Tracking
Facebook's also added in a new activity tab option to track comments on your Page.
"This new tool offers admins a single place to view and respond to customer comments on both desktop and mobile. Admins can flag interactions for follow up, reply privately or mark them as done, helping them keep better track of comments in need of responses and eliminating the risk of skipping over a customer comment."
The new tools make it easier to keep track of all interactions, with improved data tracking and notations on each, helping to make each transaction unique and personalized to each customer. And this last point is crucially important, given the rising expectations of consumers in regards to social customer service.
The New Normal
No doubt you've heard this before, but social media is changing customer service and interaction. In our new, ever-connected world, consumers have more access to more information, more of the time, and as technology advances, and habits evolve, expectations also increase in-step. For example, right now, the general expectation is that a business will respond to a query via tweet within an hour of a person posting. That's not random, that expectation didn't just crop up through some misguided sense of entitlement - that expectation exists because businesses, more and more, are meeting that level of service. And as more do, that raises the bar for everyone else - failure to meet consumer expectations is failure, straight up. That's all there is to it.
In this sense, all brands need to consider their customer service practices and responsiveness, and the tools available to provide better, faster and more personalized experience. Social media gives people a voice, and they expect that voice to be heard - the brands that recognize this and are able to do so effectively are the ones best placed to evolve with the changes in consumer behavior and benefit from such shifts.
Facebook's new tools align with this need, while also aligning with the shift towards more interactions taking place via Messenger, a tool which is going to become increasingly important for brands in the near future. If you've not considered how Messenger, and messaging in general, fits into your wider customer service practices, these changes provide a great starting point, and highlight the benefits of using messaging to expand the capacity of your brand and improve overall responsiveness. As Facebook looks to widen the commercial appeal and opportunities via Messenger, the lessons learned here could prove crucially important, and highly valuable in future.
Facebook's new Page tools are rolling out globally and will be available to all Pages in the coming months.