This a guest post by Meredith Cain, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

As Francis Bacon wrote in 1625, “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Although he did not write this with Facebook Messenger or customer service in mind, the meaning still applies. If customers will not come to your business, your business must go to the customers. In 2016, customer service application professionals struggle to find common ground where businesses can fulfill as many customers’ needs as possible in a seamless and timely manner. With one out of every nine people on the planet already using Facebook Messenger, businesses should start to capitalize on this consolidation of customers by adopting Messenger, rather than attempting to move the “mountain.”

In our recent report, we argue that customer service application professionals should make plans to incorporate Messenger into their service arsenal. Facebook’s recent announcement of new Messenger tools that include business-friendly innovations, as well as Facebook’s already ubiquitous user base, positions Messenger to serve as the bridge between Muhammad and the mountain. As this metaphorical bridge, Messenger provides customer service pros with:

  • A customer-centric service. As a medium in which customers increasingly live their lives, Facebook and Facebook Messenger offer a familiar, friction-free experience. Chats with friends and business are stored in the same location. Consequently, customers can scroll up in chat logs to see previous conversations with customer service representatives, just as they do within group chats with friends. Also, the ability to send photographs, GIFs, emojis, and receive notifications encourages casual, more emotionally resonant conversations with representatives.
  • A low-barrier to entry. Similar to how customers are familiar with the Facebook Messenger’s interface, so are the customer service representatives. Little to no agent training is required, since it is possible to integrate Messenger into customer service platforms that agents already use. Many leading customer service and contact center technology vendors have already announced such integrations.
  • No signs of slowing. In addition to a handful of consumer-facing companies already providing customer service through Messenger (with positive results), Facebook unveiled what is possible with Messenger developments such as chatbots, which—when ready for prime time—could reduce the need for agent-assisted customer service.
  • The ability to mitigate customer issues. At a time when one customer complaint can go viral in an instant, businesses can communicate with the dissatisfied customer via Messenger and mitigate their issue before it escalates. Furthermore, Messenger reduces customer frustration, thereby avoiding the issue altogether.

Facebook Messenger’s ease of use and prevalence, coupled with Facebook’s efforts to court businesses, makes it an ideal platform on which to engage with customers. The brief “It’s Time To Provide Customer Service Through Facebook Messenger” provides strategies for how customer service application professionals can incorporate Facebook Messenger. If you’re a Forrester client, book an inquiry or advisory with us for a more directed conversation.