Facebook announced a week ago the launch of a new customer chat plugin (with facebook messenger) into closed beta, which will allow customers to talk directly with businesses on their websites using Messenger, and continue those conversations across web and mobile devices. While there are plenty of customer support and chat plugins for websites on the market already, Facebook’s key advantage is its platform and the potential reach.
What does this mean for a business?
- The ability to use Messenger means the business is making itself available within an application that now reaches some 1.2 billion monthly users and growing
- The Messenger platform also supports features like payments, bots that understand natural language, and rich media, among various other things.
Facebook confirmed that these features will also be supported in the beta version of the plugin, and new experiences will be added over time to ensure the plugin is as “feature-rich” as the Facebook Messenger app itself.
How does it work?
Like any other chat system, the Facebook Messenger chat plugin is designed to hover over the top on the business’s web page, and is indicated by the familiar, blue Messenger icon. When a customer starts a chat session with the business, they’ll be presented with the same sort of Messenger interface they’re already used to from the mobile app. When customers leave the website, they’ll still be able to view or continue their conversation from their phone or tablet, using their Messenger app. This is particularly useful if the business doesn’t respond instantly to user requests coming in through Facebook Messenger from the web. And there is also the Facebook Messenger Ads that would allow businesses to reach the app’s users with offers to chat, shop, sign up for things, and more.
Who can use the plugin?
For businesses that already have a good Facebook presence and regularly engage with customers through their Facebook Page, a chat plugin for their website may make sense as:
- they won’t have to maintain a separate channel for user inquiries from the web.
- it could also take some of the strain off the company’s support email, which is where many websites today direct customer questions.
However, the Facebook messenger plugin may not be as useful for sites that do troubleshooting and tech support through their chat systems, as it doesn’t directly connect with other back-end support systems – like when a chat session is the starting point for directing customers to the right support agent, for example. It also lacks some of the more robust analytical tools the professional systems offer. And it may not be ideal for businesses that are cataloging online leads via chat. But, this wouldn’t much of a problem since we already support all kinds of integrations with the messenger platform.
The new plugin is now being trialed by a number of partners, including AdoreMe, Air France, Argos, Aviva, Bodeaz, Goibibo, Keto Mojo, KLM, Mermaid Pillow, Spoqa, Total Activation, Volaris and Zalando. During this beta period, other interested businesses can sign up to be notified when the chat plugin is broadly available, says Facebook. And if you’re interested in integrating Messenger with any other platform that you’re using, you can check us here or drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll reach out to you.