As the digital age rushes to produce fast solutions to all problems, there is less tolerance for any form of waiting. As e-commerce booms, people flocking to virtual stores instead of the traditional brick-and-mortar outlets; As such, the demand for the same service has grown. In particular, available staff to reply to queries has became core to any good business.

Social media allows a brand to have a conversational, and accessible, outlet from business to consumer. Platforms such as Facebook are so widely used that many users are more likely to search and engage with a user directly via their social media channels than explore the web for further information.

Today, we're problem solving the instant-gratification issue with Facebook Messenger.

The Problem.

Small businesses may not have the manpower for 24/7 social media staff to handle all queries. Large businesses can also become flooded with increasingly unmanageable amounts of requests. Time zones can make global business management a headache for teams not wishing to employ team members on every corner of the globe.

As outlined above, customers expect fast responses and may deflect to competitor or gain negative opinions on your brand (or leave negative reviews) if not handled promptly.

So, how do we reduce the customer wait time for a response, without excessively growing a social media response team?

The Solution.

For Facebook, business pages have the option to create automated responses.

Setting up automated responses.

Step 1. Visit your Facebook Business Page.
Note: You must be an admin of the page to apply these changes.

Step 2. Click on 'Settings'.
This can be found in the admin menu on the left hand side of the page, as the final option.

Note: You can also simply add /inbox to your Facebook Page URL, and then click 'Automated Responses' on the left hand menu.

Step 3. Click on 'Messaging'.

Step 4. Scroll down to 'During a Messenger conversation', and click 'Set Up' next to 'Set up automated responses'.

Step 5. Depending on your requirements, browse the options on the left menu and set up whatever is desired.

Step 6. Ensure you test your automation.

Best Practises.

Instant Reply.

The first option for automated responses, is for an instant reply.

By selecting this, you can give users an expected response time and provide them with general useful information.

While thanking users for contacting you, we also suggest providing them a link to your FAQ section incase their question can be answered instantly through existing resources.

Note that regularly checking messages may provide you with new content that will be useful for the FAQ page.

Away Message.

If you have an active social media time, you may decide that automations don't fit your intended brand voice. However, outside of business hours, on holidays, or during circumstantial occasions, you may not have the active team members to reply.

By setting up unique away messages, you can toggle the option for an automated message to let customers know that no one is currently available to reply to them.

When informing someone that you're unavailable you should look to give alternative solutions such as the aforementioned FAQ link, or alternative contact methods.

FAQs.

To deal with common questions, Facebook Messenger allows admins to craft out expected questions as clickable buttons. You can then add as much information as required as a response, meaning that in-house team members won't need to copy-paste the same basic answers to any frequently asked questions

There is an option to add 'Personalisation' to your responses, such as the full name of whoever contacts your page or your business address.

When you build up your FAQs, you can add them to the menu that appears on messenger— with a preview given in the admin view.

Images, videos, and buttons can be added to further aid the response.

Job Application Received.

If you are using the hiring features available within Facebook, you can set up an automatic message to acknowledge any job applications your receive.

This confirms to candidates that their application has been sent, and can be customised to outline general expectations about your hiring process.

Page Recommendations (or not).

Opinions matter. Word of mouth is forever the most powerful and effective driver in the world of marketing.

If someone shares your page with a recommendation, you can add a customised thank you message—perhaps rewarding their support with some form of incentive.

More critically, if someone actively shares a negative recommendation about your page, you can automatically contact them for feedback.

This option is recommended as you can gain valuable business feedback, to ensure you are aware of any pain points and can create robust solutions for better business.

Final Thoughts.

Automation frees up valuable time to allow you to better optimize your output.

Used correctly, you can usefully solve customer issues at speed. However, not all problems have a single solution, and your automated replies should periodically be reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose.

People like to feel heard, and a pre-written response does not give as good a customer experience as a personalised and thoughtful reply. With this in mind, do not aim to replace all client facing communications with automations unless you have a strong contingency plan available for customers that won't fit your defined responses.