Facebook release new plugin, but are they just repeating services that have been established for decades?Gemma Baker
This month it has been reported that Facebook has released a test version of a new plugin called Customer Chat. The plugin will allow businesses to use Facebook Messenger to have conversations on their own websites.
Companies such as the airline Volaris and UK retailer Argos has been trialing the beta version of Facebook Messenger Customer Chat. The main benefit that has come back from this is that it allows organisations to keep records of interactions and can continue from previous chats sessions rather than starting fresh with customers each time.
However, this has been done before! Many web chat providers have existed for over a decade and the systems have evolved into more advanced applications that can identify prospects such as leads and customers, and keep full records of previous conversations. Numerous web chat solutions will integrate with organisations legacy systems allowing the engagement to be exported into the customer’s record, ensuring every contact has been noted.
The basic chat feature is packed full of functionality that aid operators to answer enquiries efficiently and accurately that they make Facebook messenger look inferior by comparison. When a chat system is unavailable, the chat window can present an offline form, allowing visitors to still enquire whilst being informed that they will not receive an instant response. However Facebook Messenger appears the same regardless of whether an operator is monitoring it, therefore a visitor will not know how long it will take to receive a reply.
And it’s not just web chat that these providers supply, many systems will include other functionality to improve online engagement with visitors and modules containing account information that ensures users have the right security settings for access into and navigating the communication channel.
Reporting modules can include audits to ensure any change has been made by an authorised individual. With Facebook, organisations will generally have one email address and password to access their business page, therefore there will be no way of identifying multiple users using the same login credentials and keeping track of their results.
Other web chat reports allow organisations to identify trends and monitor uptake, Facebook usually lock their level of insights down to how many followers the business page has. Not supplying full analytical data can mean that companies are missing out on using the communication channel as efficiently as possible, as they cannot recognise areas to improve easily.
On the outside, Customer Chat will just look like Messenger to visitors; there is no identification that the chat is part of the company and no brand consistency. Most chat solutions will allow organisations to use their corporate colours and logo to customise the communication channel to fit their website. Visitors may be wary about using a Facebook product away from the social media platform, as they may be suspicious of what information it can collect about them from the chat channel.
Facebook seems to be visiting an idea that already has been done and proven to work, just for their own gain, as businesses and visitors who use an established web chat solution benefit much more. From increase in operator productivity, being able to increase engagement and therefore conversions, to customers who are confident they are speaking directly to the company without having to worry about their privacy, they complete their engagement completely satisfied.
Would you prefer to go back to basics just to use a big name product, or use an advanced system that’s been around for over a decade?