Facebook recently introduced yet another upgrade to their services in an effort to further entice business page owners to improve their interactions with fans and customers. This is but one in a string of changes (seemingly for the good!) that has been rolled out since summer. Many are introduced without fanfare, leaving users to speculate their purpose and benefits.

This latest change came in mighty handy for me recently as I went to reply to a fan’s direct message for a client. I could easily see the fan’s past history of messages, topics and more. To refresh my memory about this fan, I had her profile photo, location, job and current time. That way I could easily end the response with, “Have a lovely dinner!” knowing I had the correct time zone. All in all, it made interaction faster, smoother and more accurate to the specific person — all tools we can appreciate in business when all are valuable.

What would you pay for a customer relationship management system providing all that data in a dashboard? Do you already shell out substantially for one in your business?

“Replies in 2 hours…”

So what are these upgrades? First, you may have noticed on your business page an indicator showing the average amount of time it takes you to respond to a message from a fan (within minutes, hours or days). This is referring to how long it takes you to reply to direct, private messages seen only by page administrators – not to comments in posts that you reply to. This Respose Time notice is automatically generated based upon an average of your historic response times (but you can set it to a specific response if desired). More on this below…

Facebook Customer Relationship Management

Second, relating to that Response Time posted on your page, is a new rapportive-style Inbox from which to manage all your interactions with current and past fans and customers. (Admins, click on Messages at the top of your business page

[see the red “1” in the image below] to access the Inbox.) This is what allowed me to have a more substantive and easy conversation with a client’s customer. Here’s an example of the new Inbox:

Facebook Revamp Inbox Screenshot

At first glance, I was surprised to see past interactions with fans already redisplayed if I needed to converse with them. This tool doesn’t apply solely to your future interactions but already includes your history. Just click on any fan’s name to see past interaction. This new Inbox provides one place to reply to fan messages at the bottom of the box. But it also provides a snapshot about each fan to make it vastly easier to make decisions about what to say. For example, the Inbox now includes each person’s:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Location
  • Job (if filled in)
  • What their local time and location is (if they’re away from home)
  • Past conversations

That means if you previously talked with them about a product or service, you can easily nudge your memory and converse with them about their experience, “Bob, so nice to hear from you! I hoped XYZ worked out okay the last time we talked. As it’s close to dinner time now where you are, I hope you have a great evening!”

Facebook’s Free CRM Could Be Your Game Changer

Like other pricey CRM systems (like SalesForce or Highrise) – but this one is free — you can add notes to this person’s record, such as keywords about products or services or perhaps a past promotion s/he participated in.

Overall, this can be quite a nifty tool for business owners to use to maintain interactions with a touch of a finger with key clients and fans – one of the most difficult things to do in marketing. Who can remember all those past interactions with customers? Now they’re at your fingertips with a simple click. (And, yes, these features are also available to page managers on their mobile devices.)

One of the most difficult aspects of social media is simply finding time to give it attention. With this interactions tool, putting conversations at your fingertips, page owners hopefully will feel more compelled to invest time, money and excellent content with their fans. If you can feel the amount of time spent on fan management activities shortening up, that makes a significant improvement in productivity. How will you use it?

Oh, and for that time you spend with family at the end of this week, waiting for Santa? Just click on the little slider at the top of the Inbox for “AWAY” time, letting fans know that you won’t be answering messages until you return. That way your family time won’t count against that “Replies within…” average while you’re ho, ho, ho’ing away!

For more info:

VentureBeat: Facebook Unveils a New Rapportive Like Inbox and Communications Tools for Pages

Facebook: New Tools for Managing Communication on Your Page