It’s been a few months now since Facebook flipped the ‘on’ switch for the compulsory roll-out of Timeline for brands. Like it or loathe it, the switchover has brought major changes to the way brands communicate with their fans. However; in our experience, the biggest change Timeline has brought to the table is also one of the least discussed – private messaging for brands.
By opening the floodgates to direct interaction between companies and consumers, can Facebook play the big customer service catch-up game with other social networks that have better-established customer service credentials?
If you were to ask the majority of people, we’d bet that they had always just assumed private messaging was built into Facebook. It now seems bizarre that with Twitter’s increasing prevalence as a customer service tool, brands on Facebook had been left without an option to conduct their affairs in private. Of course, a number of support forums and apps help bridge this gap (notable examples include Get Satisfaction and Zendesk), but in our experience, a lack of consistency has meant that the process is often more cumbersome than intuitive. With Timeline now live on our clients’ pages, Yomego’s community team can request customer account numbers, discuss potentially volatile topics and diffuse situations in a discreet yet personal manner, building advocacy and serving to protect our clients’ images in the process.
The change brings Facebook’s functionality in line with a general shift in the way organisations use social media. Facebook now recognises that companies can no longer rest on the platform as simply a tool for self-promotion and casual engagement. Consumers now expect that wherever a company has a voice, there will be a means to interact with them beyond the corporate bravado. For now, the option exists to disable brand private messaging, although by disabling the feature, page admins risk appearing ‘closed off’ to customer interaction.
Additionally, with the added customer service emphasis on a Facebook page, it now falls on companies to re-assess how they are managing their presences. Facebook page content is often left to PR and marketing staff, who may be skilled at push messaging but out of step with customer services and haven’t yet acquired the skills to deal with potentially complex support issues.
Ensuring that the resources exist to enable rapid communication between PR / marketing and customer service teams is absolutely essential. This should be complimented by a well thought-out escalation policy that helps all aspects of a company work together to resolve matters.
We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from both our clients and their customers on the addition of private messaging; however we’d love to hear some stories from those who have had different experiences or perhaps decided to disable it altogether? Let us know your thoughts.
By Account Manager Sam MacLeod @cooltweetbro #YomegoSocial