Businesses may soon be able to directly communicate with customers searching their websites using the Facebook customer chat plugin, Facebook Messenger head of product Stan Chudnovsky announced Tuesday at the Web Summit in Portugal.
Announced as part of version 2.2 of the Messenger platform, the plugin will let companies use a Messenger-like live chat system on their own websites. Companies can use employees or chatbots to provide real-time customer service, or give out special coupon codes to site visitors.
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Pegged as one of the most requested business features for Messenger, the chat feature's conversations will sync to a page's Messenger, letting the message carry back and forth from a website to a Facebook page. A customer won't need to toggle between two tabs to access a site and the conversation—the chat will update real-time on both ends, streamlining the communication process.
Slated to be available for desktop and mobile, the plugin is currently in closed beta. Companies can sign up to receive updates and release notifications.
Several companies have live chat already on their sites, but a native offering like Customer Chat is new. Some businesses use AI-driven chatbots to contact fans on Facebook and other social media channels. National Parks Depot, an e-commerce company, uses the chatbots to share coupon codes or advance access to upcoming products.
Further integrating live chat lets companies deliver faster customer service and technical assistance, with the plugin allowing seamless communication across multiple devices and platforms. With a similar look to Messenger, customers may feel more comfortable adopting it because they're familiar with it already from personal use.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Facebook is testing Customer Chat, an enterprise-focused Messenger plugin that lets websites host a chat function.
- The plugin allows the conversation to flow between the website and Facebook, updating in real-time across devices and platforms.
- When it fully rolls out, the chat feature may help businesses reach more customers faster and on a platform the customer has likely used before.
- Facebook boosts business appeal of Messenger with new NLP capabilities (TechRepublic)
- Facebook extends Messenger capabilities to business websites (ZDNet)
- The automated office: 8 ways companies are using AI to increase productivity (TechRepublic)
- 10 cool things you didn't know you could do with Facebook Messenger (CNET)
- Facebook brings Workplace Chat to the desktop with voice chat, unlimited file sharing (TechRepublic)
Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.