Facebook messenger is one of the most popular chat applications out there, with 1.2 billion users and counting. Its popularity is due to the underlying platform, Facebook, and also because of its modern design and rich media features. While messenger has been used overwhelmingly as a social chat tool, Facebook is now looking to extend its scope to the B2C and B2B markets. On November 7, 2017, Facebook announced the launch of the Facebook messenger plugin for website to allow businesses to chat with their customers via Facebook right from their own website.
How to install the Facebook messenger plugin
The Facebook messenger plugin can be accessed by pasting a code snippet that is found at https://developers.facebook.com/docs/messenger-platform/discovery/customer-chat-plugin.
Once you follow these steps, you can copy paste the snippet to your website, to your Google Tag Manager tool or to your managed WordPress website. For a detailed process, please refer our article.
It can be accessed on your website by clicking on a hovering messenger icon. The icon itself can be customized to be placed anywhere on the screen or it can come up when the website visitor performs an action like clicking on a link or scrolling on a page. You can customize it with your branding as well, to give it a better visual integration with your website.
Advantages of the Facebook messenger plugin
The Facebook messenger plugin for website has the following advantages.
- Ready integration with Facebook – The Facebook messenger plugin for website is directly integrated to your Facebook business page and can identify any logged in user. It is great if you get a lot of your customers through Facebook.
- Support for rich media – The Facebook chat window supports rich media like images, video and files. It also supports the rich set of emoticons that Facebook is known for.
- Seamlessness – The chats on the Facebook website, app and on your website all are in sync. This helps you and your customer to move from one platform to the other, without losing context.
- Sponsored messages – Facebook allows you to send sponsored messages through its chat window. These sponsored messages can be automatically sent to all your customers.
- Inexpensive cost – The cost associated with Facebook chat integration is less, as you don’t pay anything to Facebook to just use the chat feature. The cost comes from using the skills of a developer to customize the plugin and custom -place it where you want.
- Social media redirection – You can always redirect your customers from your Facebook business page to your business website and vice-versa, using the chat as a medium. This helps you maximize the use of both platforms.
Disadvantages of the Facebook messenger plugin
- Depends on your Facebook reach – If your customers are on Facebook or regularly visit your business Facebook page, it is a good idea to have the chat. But for businesses that may be purely B2B or in some other domain that doesn’t warrant the need of social media presence, the Facebook messenger plugin isn’t a great idea.
- No integration with your systems – The Facebook messenger plugin will always sit outside your system and connect with your customers. There is no way for you to ‘export’ the chat and save it for your records.
- No relaying of chats within your teams – Your chat support team cannot ‘pass’ on the chat to one another or work collaboratively to resolve a customer request. This is a serious problem when you have to resolve a complex issue that might involve different teams.
- No analytics or dashboard – There is no analytics or dashboard for the kind of chats that you receive.
- Sponsored messages are marked – Sponsored messages are a good idea but they come marked with the word, ‘sponsored’. If your prospective customers know that a piece of content is sponsored and bot-sent, it is much less likely to do well.
- Not ideal for B2B – When it comes to B2B, doing business over Facebook is not the norm. In that case, identifying customers by their Facebook handles is only going to make things worse and not better.
- Not ideal for lead generation – If you want to save all the newly received chats, as newly received leads, you won’t be able to do so. There is no way for you to save chats for any lead generation purposes.
- No marking or priority – In a more complex business world, not every customer demands the same levels of priority. Yet, there is no way for the customer chats to have or show their priorities when the chats reach you.
- Mobile users will find it hard to use – A customer on mobile can find the Facebook chat window, within your website quite difficult to use. This can lead to poor customer satisfaction borne out of sub-par experience.
- No escalations possible – The customer on Facebook messenger plugin for website cannot ‘escalate’ his current chat to a higher priority or demand that a manager is involved.
- Chat Rating – The Facebook messenger plugin offers no way to rate or rank a piece of a chat conversation, that could be used to improve customer support service.
Who can use the Facebook messenger plugin
In our opinion, the Facebook messenger plugin for website as a live chat tool is not ideal for businesses that have a larger customer base or are B2B in nature. The sheer complexity of that kind of business cannot be managed by the Facebook chat plugin. The chat plugin is effective for very entry level B2C entities, blogs or simple informative websites where the traffic is low and customer queries can easily be solved by one person.
It takes more than just the Facebook messenger plugin to truly serve a business that wishes to exploit live chat technology to the fullest. A business that needs a true customer support solution and a reliable and scalable technology, has to lean towards a more powerful and feature-rich help desk software.
Having said that, the Facebook messenger plugin for website offers a great way to start using live chat to communicate with your website visitors, if the initial traffic is limited. You can always switch to a help desk software for more.