A business’s guide to Facebook Chat

Facebook Chat comes with tradeoffs. But for some businesses, it's a great stepping stone between social and embedded messaging.

By Hannah Wren, Content Marketing Associate

Published November 9, 2020
Last updated January 11, 2021

Sixty-nine percent of consumers feel more confident in brands they can reach via messaging, according to a Facebook study. And that was before COVID-19.

In a world gone digital, messaging gives customers a convenient, personal, and secure way to interact with businesses. That’s why customer-focused organizations are making messaging even more accessible with embedded messaging.

Embedded messaging solutions like Zendesk's own allow enterprises to embed modern, asynchronous, and customized messaging experiences into their own websites and mobile apps without being tied to a third-party platform such as Facebook.

But for some businesses, Facebook Chat is a great stepping stone between social and embedded messaging. Messenger is the third most popular app in the world for a reason.

Here’s what businesses need to know about using Facebook Chat as their embedded messaging channel of choice.

  1. What is Facebook Chat?
  2. Facebook Chat comes with trade-offs
  3. Facebook Chat vs. Facebook Messenger
  4. Facebook Chatbots
  5. Facebook Customer Chat benefits
  6. Why businesses need a more advanced inbox
  7. Facebook Chat best practices

What is Facebook Chat?

Facebook Chat is a chat plugin that allows businesses to embed their Facebook Messenger experience directly on their website.

Facebook Chat comes with trade-offs

Outsourcing your customer messaging to a third-party property like Facebook comes with trade-offs.

Facebook controls the user experience and available messaging features and businesses have to follow Facebook’s policies.

That means businesses typically can’t:

  • Receive payments (this feature is only for friends and family). And in-chat conversion-to-purchase rate is 2.3 times higher compared to a website's or mobile app's checkout page.
  • Proactively message users unless it’s sponsored. And 87 percent of customers want brands to proactively contact them for customer service issues, according to one study.
  • Respond to customers after a 24-hour window. Once the customer stops replying, that conversation–and relationship–is frozen in a channel the business doesn’t own.

If businesses want full control over the customer messaging experience and treasure trove of data these conversations provide, they'll need an embedded messaging solution like Zendesk's own.

Is Facebook Chat and Messenger the same?

“Facebook Chat” and “Facebook Messenger” are often used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between the two.

Facebook Messenger is Facebook’s flagship messaging feature. With over 2 billion monthly users, Messenger places a business right next to its customer’s friends and family. From the customer’s perspective, this makes it an easy and a comfortable way to get support.

You can think of Facebook Chat as Messenger deployed on a business’s website.

Customers can connect with brands while browsing the web with the same personalized and rich-media experience they get directly in Messenger. And with chat histories synchronized across the chat plugin, Messenger app, and messenger.com, customers benefit from a continuous experience across all Facebook channels.

What a-bot Facebook chatbots?

With 62 percent of US consumers reporting that they like using chatbots to interact with businesses, companies are incorporating bots in their support strategies to deliver speedy support, around the clock.

In fact, Facebook said it had 300,000 active Messenger bots—and that was in 2018.

Examples include Plum, a Facebook chatbot that sends users personalized savings advice, and Sephora’s virtual artist that helps customers find the perfect lipstick shade.

62 percent of consumers say they like using chatbots to interact with businesses

Facebook’s original out-of-the-box chatbot, M, didn't make sense for customers. But M lives on through Messenger’s low-maintenance, easy-to-program conversation flows.

To build the kinds of next-generation Facebook chatbot experiences that make customers’ and agents’ lives easier, a business will need to find the right bot partner to provide the infrastructure on the back end and the right interface to manage conversations on the front end.

With Zendesk’s Sunshine Conversations or our chatbot marketplace, organizations can build rich, personalized chatbot experiences across Facebook Messenger, Facebook Chat—or any channel. And using the Agent Workspace within our Support Suite, support teams can track, manage, and prioritize bot conversations at scale.

Top Facebook Customer Chat benefits

More convenience for customers and agents than traditional live chat

Like live chat, Facebook Chat enables customers to connect with brands as soon as they need help. And over 40 percent of customers consider 24/7 support, in real-time, a component of a good customer experience, according to our 2020 Trends Report.

But the difference between live chat and messaging is that live chat is session-based and synchronous. When a customer ends the conversation, the conversational history usually vanishes.

Facebook Chat, like any embedded messaging solution, is sessionless. This means customers can respond to messages at their own pace and agents can help more customers at once. Conversations can occur in real-time, but customers can also stop and start conversations when convenient.

In other words, Facebook Chat gives businesses:

  • Visibility into chat history: The Customer Chat plugin shows chat history between a customer and the business.
  • The ability to continue conversations: Businesses can follow up on customer conversations even after a customer abandons the chat, using the same conversation in Messenger. But unlike Zendesk messaging, the 24-hour rule still applies.

A better e-commerce experience

Eighty-three percent of consumers message a business to ask about products or services. And when they do, 75 percent make a purchase.

Conversational commerce is the intersection between e-commerce and messaging. Facebook’s conversational commerce features make it a top channel for e-commerce companies.

Click-to Messenger ads

Businesses can encourage customers and prospects to message them with targeted ads. The CTA prompts people to message the company, automatically opening a chat when they click.

Businesses can also inspire customers to send messages organically with “Send Message” news feed posts.

Sponsored messages

Sponsored messages allow businesses to retarget people who have previously messaged them with special promotions, offers, or updates inside the Messenger thread.

Ads in Messenger

Businesses can place ads in Messenger Inbox between conversations or ads in Messenger Stories between stories.

Facebook Shops

Facebook Shops helps small businesses sell online. From Facebook Shops, customers can message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct to get support.

With over 60 million businesses on Facebook, customers are increasingly coming to Facebook to get support while discovering and purchasing products simultaneously.

That means businesses can no longer view a customer’s shopping experience and support experience in silos. Instead, they’ll need to view them as parts of a single, more holistic customer relationship.

For example, 55 percent of online shoppers abandon a purchase because they can’t find an answer to a question quickly. With embedded messaging, businesses can get in front of those missed opportunities for conversation by making it effortless for customers to get support—so Talia doesn’t leave that puzzle in her cart behind because she’s wondering if it’s too hard for her 10-year-old.

By bringing over Messenger conversations, Facebook Chat also allows agents to see if a customer responded to a click-to-Messenger ad or a sponsored message, and use that as insight into what products they’re interested in and tailor responses accordingly.

Beyond ads and marketing-heavy content, brands can also build more organic conversational commerce experiences—if they have a messaging platform like Sunshine.

When customers reach out, businesses can provide immediate action opportunities inside the Messenger or Customer Chat thread with rich messaging types like carousels, forms, and picklists that feel less sales-focused and more relevant to what the customer is currently asking.

Suppose Steve messages Dream Hotels about honeymoon suite prices. He could have the option to select his hotel preferences, book his stay, and upgrade to a room with a view, within the messaging conversation.

If Sally messages Comfy Shoes regarding the fit of a pair of slippers, the conversation could automatically populate with details on the fit, relevant promotions, and the option to add the shoes in her size to her cart.

The case for a more advanced inbox

Facebook’s Business Suite helps small businesses manage customer comments and messages across Messenger and Instagram from a unified inbox.

Teams using Business Suite must manage conversations from other channels, like WhatsApp, email, or voice, in a separate workspace—which is why Facebook doesn’t market its inbox to enterprise or midsize businesses.

Instead, businesses with higher volumes of customer requests can use Facebook’s Business APIs to integrate conversations with a CRM software like Zendesk.

Businesses that connect Facebook Messenger to Zendesk can:

  • Turn conversations into support tickets and reply to messages sent to Customer Chat widgets in the same place they manage all channels
  • Track, manage, and prioritize conversations at scale with advanced tools like triggers, automations, and workflows
  • Integrate conversations with third party tools, like a marketing automation software or payment processor
  • Glean valuable customer data from conversations
  • Build unique and customized customer experiences

Facebook Chat best practices

For businesses taking advantage of Facebook’s Business APIs, here are 5 best practices for managing Facebook Chat conversations.

Facebook Chat

1. Respond to customers quickly

60 percent of customers consider quick resolutions the top indicator of a good customer experience, according to our 2020 Trends Report.

Facebook Chat is asynchronous, still, the need for speed remains crucial.

If a customer with a loaded shopping cart reaches out over Facebook Chat, a delayed response risks them abandoning their cart. In fact, 15 percent of customers expect a brand to respond to their chat in less than 5 minutes, and over 40 percent expect a response in less than an hour, our Trends Report also revealed.

Facebook even rewards speedy support teams by tagging the business’s Facebook page as “Very Responsive.” Fast companies get a chat window on their page prompting users to send a message.

60 percent of customers consider quick resolutions the top indicator of a good customer experience

Yet many support teams lack the workspace to provide this speed.

A conversational interface like Zendesk’s Agent Workspace arms agents with tools for speedy replies, such as real-time notifications to indicate when a customer views a message. If Cindy leaves for a walk and then picks the conversation back up when she gets back from the park, an agent will be notified that she’s ready to talk again.

Businesses can also increase first-response time by having a chatbot start conversations on an agent’s behalf.

Chatbots can gather preliminary context, like what product a customer is inquiring about or what steps they’ve already tried to resolve their issue, so that the next available agent can solve the inquiry faster.

2. Improve the agents experience with advanced tools

Businesses also struggle with speed because agents don’t have advanced tools.

With triggers, automation, and workflows, support teams can increase agent efficiency and streamline conversation management. They can automatically assign things like:

  • A high priority to loyal customers and route them to a VIP service team or flag they’re ticket as a priority in the queue
  • A repeat dissatisfied customer to a specialized support team–by looking at context, sentiment, and intent
  • Incoming messaging conversations to agents who are online and not at capacity, eliminating the need for triaging
  • Tickets to agents based on expertise, like product focus or language

Businesses can also improve the agent experience with advanced collaboration tools. A support team might integrate their ticketing software with other internal tools like email and Slack to share best practices across departments.

3. Enable agents to bring in other channels when they need to

High performing customer experience teams are more likely to have an omnichannel strategy in place, according to a joint study by Zendesk and ESG. They provide a mix of traditional channels like email and the phone and emerging channels like an AI-based help center, messaging apps, and SMS.

But omnichannel means more than just offering multiple channels.

Omnichannel experiences connect conversations across channels so agents can seamlessly toggle between channels and quickly switch channels when they need to.

An agent helping Sam return her blender might need to follow up on the Facebook Chat conversation with an email if she requests an email receipt.

With the Agent Workspace, both agents and customers can seamlessly channel-switch based on situation and customer preference without ending the conversation. Agents don’t have to respond to conversations on other channels using a different workspace, which means they can balance more customers at a time.

4. Enrich conversations with interactive and customizable features

Facebook Messenger comes with out-of-the-box features like:

  • GIFS
  • Stickers
  • 3D animations
  • Audio recordings
  • Quick replies
  • Automated responses
  • Away messages to notify customers when agents are off the clock
  • Appointment reminders for customers who booked an appointment on the company’s Facebook Page

Businesses can further enhance conversations with more interactive and customizable features—but they’ll need the messaging platform to provide the infrastructure.

With a CRM platform like Sunshine, businesses can enable customers to make reservations, complete forms, select preferences from a pick list, and more inside the thread.

Taking it a step further, a robust messaging platform can enable businesses to deploy the same rich experience across any messaging channel, whether that’s Facebook Chat, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, or SMS.

Sunshine Conversations enables a business to build once and deploy anywhere—in other words; deploy the same or best version of a rich messaging experience across channels, even those that don’t offer that experience natively.

5. Arm agents with context for greater personalization

A customer’s Messenger context card includes basic details such as a customer’s location and local time, which helps for questions about things like opening hours.

But customers expect personalization beyond the most basic. In fact, 76 percent of customers surveyed in our Trends Report expect personalization, including engagement over their preferred contact method, account type or status, and recommendations based on purchase or search history.

To provide this level of personalization, agents need insight that exceeds a customer’s identity.

Context into a customer’s purchase history and preferences is key to Customer Chat and Messenger since customers use Facebook to shop for products. And 91 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations, according to Facebook.

91 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations

With Facebook’s Business APIs, companies can integrate support conversations into a CRM to create a 360 customer view. A CRM like Zendesk Sunshine can give agents—and chatbots—access to:

  • Context coming from other tools, such as a marketing automation software or payment processor like Stripe
  • What’s in a customer’s shopping cart
  • Discount offers a customer qualifies for and what offers they’ve already used or the marketing team recently sent

With this kind of context, agents can deliver more tailored responses and create personalized experiences that drive loyalty.

Build better customer relationships with embedded messaging

The move towards messaging is a trend that’s expected to stick around for the long haul, according to Forrester’s 2021 predictions. Businesses swapping live chat with embedded messaging are ahead of the game.

Similar to Facebook friends, communicating with businesses should feel effortless, convenient, and personal. That’s the kind of support that builds lasting customer relationships—and just like loyal friends, loyal customers are gold.

Conversational support made easy with Zendesk

Continue the conversation