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Facebook Upgrades Messenger Chat Website Plugin

Website Visitors Can Now Use Chat Without Logging Into Facebook

Facebook launched its Messenger website plugin, Customer Chat, in November 2017.

Much like typical website chat functions, Customer Chat allows customers to talk directly with businesses on their websites using Messenger. With options to either tie the conversation into a chatbot, helping with volume or directing discussions to team members.

Unlike existing solutions, of which there are many, Customer Chat has the added benefit of continuing those conversations across web, mobile and tablet devices.

While this all sounds great, there was a downside of using the Chat Plugin; it required the website visitors to be logged into Facebook, to activate, stifling uptake.

However, Facebook's latest product release has seen the login element rolled back, ensuring that users can choose to interact in Guest mode instead.

Jenny Li, Product Manager, Messenger

"With this latest update, the Chat Plugin helps businesses reach more people than ever before, even customers not logged into Facebook.

We're also introducing a new design which makes conversations easier and more intuitive. In our testing, businesses using the new Chat Plugin saw a 45% increase in customers inquiring about their products and services."

Despite the introduction of a new Guest mode for users, the back end for businesses will remain much the same.

Seamless Customer Experience

Leveraging the Chat Plugin allows for a unified approach to audience engagement.

The Chat Plugin automatically loads recent chat history between the person and your business, meaning recent interactions with your business on messenger.com, in the Messenger app, or in the Chat Plugin on your website will be visible.

Helping create a single experience for your customers and enables you to continue the conversation even after they have left your webpage. No need to capture their information to follow up, just use the same conversation in Messenger.

While messaging has exploded in recent years, the marketing applications are still very much at an early stage, with the primary focus, for now, more on customer experience, rather than selling ad space.

Sheryl Sandberg, January 2019

'Our approach to monetisation anywhere is always very cautious and we are very – moving very slowly on Messenger, where we remain primarily focused on consumer growth and engagement.

Our real focus has been on the organic connections between businesses and consumers, where this is a really strong channel for customer service.'

That said, for those keen to combine the two (customer service and advertising), there are always workarounds, in particular, via Click to Messenger ads.

Setting Up Customer Chat On Your Website

The set up for the Chat Plugin is relatively straightforward.

On your Facebook Page, select Settings, then followed by Messaging. Scroll down to Add Messenger to your website, select Get Started, and you are off.

You can customise the plugin. Set a greeting message, response time and theme colour to suit your business needs. Enter the website domain(s) you'd like to add Messenger to.

Once you've finished, the setup tool will automatically generate code that you can copy/paste to your web page.

Alternatively, you can set up the Chat Plugin via Facebook partners such as WooCommerceManyChat, and Haravan. The third party options generally have a few more bells and whistles, so probably are worth checking out.

Ryan Pamplin, CEO of BlendJet

"Having an open line of communication with our customers gives them a sense of confidence from the browsing stage to final checkout.

We noticed that customers who engage with us are three to four times more likely to checkout. With the Chat Plugin allowing us to reach more customers, we've tripled our sales since offering it as a customer engagement channel."

As per the BlendJet example above, the business case for live chat, whether its via Facebook or not, is quite compelling.

Facebook's version is free, integrated across multiple channels and devices, and can be tied in with ads if you're game.

All in all, it's a pretty sweet deal.

Given the challenges which Covid-19 presents for all, updates like this will continue to help organisations do more with less.

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