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What Facebook’s New Customer Service Features Mean for Brands

Although it may not have made our list of bold predictions for 2016, we have always emphasized that brands need to start seriously investing in social consumer care, and all signs continue to support our findings. This week, Facebook announced more features to enable communications from Pages. These updates are right on the heels of a batch of changes earlier this year that included the “responsiveness badge.”
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The announcement is chock full of words like “empower” and “control” and “ease” so this makes it pretty clear that this round of changes are part of an effort to help different kinds of brands take advantage of Facebook as a customer service tool. However, just because the tools are coming, it doesn’t mean they are going to be useful for every business. So, let’s dive in and figure out what brands, fans, and community managers can expect from Facebook’s new customer service features.

More Flexibility in “Response” Rate

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Right now, only Pages that respond to 90% of private messages within five minutes are given this “very responsive” badge. Let’s get real for a minute here, friends: responding to every message within five minutes is a lofty dream, even for the most dedicated community manager. That service level is only realistic for brand pages that have a generally low volume of private messages and can afford for someone to be “always on” and respond right away  – two things that don’t usually go hand in handSo, this is why many brands didn’t see value in sharing this badge today.
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Luckily, Facebook has realized that it’s just not realistic for all brands. This new suite of changes will allow brands to choose whether or not to display the responsiveness badge on their Page. Brands can select the average response time it takes to respond to private messages, providing broader times that may be more fitting with their social strategy or ability to respond effectively:

  • Within minutes
  • Within an hour
  • Within a day

New “Away Messages” and “Instant Replies”

Page admins will be able to create “away messages” and “instant replies” – think “Out of Office” emails for Facebook messages. Although, there is no indication whether or not brands will be able to control what each message will say.
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From a consumer perspective, I also wonder about the value this kind of message provides.

Keeping up with Comments

The Activity tab will soon feature more than just a notification, it will include a stream to view all comments. From what Facebook has shown us here, this could be most helpful when looking at the volume of total comments, and make responding more efficient than jumping around from comment to comment in various places on the Page or post. Admins will also get the ability to mark comments for “Follow up” or reply privately. It has yet to be seen what Facebook means by replying privately (via message or a comment that only that user can see).
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For those community managers and Page admins that respond to posts and page comments natively, this update looks to be quite helpful. If your brand uses a third party tool, such as Hootsuite or Conversocial, for responding to comments, then this may not be of any use at all.
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Facebook's New Customer Service Features

Feature Shortcomings:

While these changes warm this community manager’s heart, they really do not seem to be incredibly useful for brands – yet. Until the updates roll out to business Pages (which will happen over the course of several months), we won’t know for sure just how much they could come into play in engagement and care strategies on Facebook. Here are a few things that leave me scratching my head until then:

  1. While our team lives and breathes by the philosophy that all comments and messages deserve to be addressed, the quality of a response shouldn’t be overshadowed by the speed in which it’s delivered. It may take an hour to track down a real solution for a customer message, and I’d hate to see the quality of one’s response suffer for the sake of a “responsiveness” badge.
  2. We still don’t know whether or not Facebook is calculating how long it takes to respond to a consumer in a full dialogue, or if it’s only counting the time it takes to respond to a user’s first message sent.
  3. Here’s the thing about this response rate: it only concerns private messages. In our experience, we see users sharing feedback more often through post comments or posts to a Page. Time will tell whether or not these features lead to more consumers using private messages.
  4. Facebook also says that “Page response times will now show up in Messenger threads” when users send a private message, but it does not indicate whether or not responsiveness will be shown automatically on all Pages or if this is only displayed in threads if you choose to turn on feature in the first place.
  5. This round of updates does not include the ability for admins to assign comments to other admins that may be on the page. If it did, this could be more helpful for bigger brands and could even pose a threat to third party tools that right now, have a corner on the market for social customer care. Facebook does say that they will add more kinds of interactions to the tool “over time.” There’s no telling when – or even, if, – those changes will actually roll out.

Lastly, it is yet to be seen what value these updates will provide to consumers in the end. While they appear to be helpful to Page admins in some ways, I do not anticipate many consumers even noticing the badges at first. Over time, this may change as users grow more accustomed. Consumer reaction (or lack thereof) is something we’re eager to watch as the changes roll out.
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So, what do you think of the upcoming features? As a community manager, which part of these updates seem to have the most potential for your Page?

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