by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager
More and more companies are now launching virtual agents on their websites to guide customers to the correct web pages, show them images of products they would like, help them fill out online forms and answer various other questions. Now it is time for the next step in online customer service. With approximately 500 million users on Facebook (many of whom spend copious amounts of time throughout their day on the site), it makes sense for web self service to take advantage of this platform.
Verizon FiOS has launched their virtual assistant, Ask Verizon, on their Facebook page, so people can ask questions about their FiOS TV, Internet and digital voice directly from Facebook. Creative Virtual launched this V-Person™ integration last month. Verizon have also included their Ask the Community option below the Ask Verizon implementation, so customers can go to one page for answers directly from Verizon as well as from the peer-to-peer forums. Creative Virtual has plans to continue this social media trend with more clients and their own Facebook page.
Companies can greatly benefit from their customers’ interactions with Facebook. If a company already has a virtual agent on their website, it is very easy to implement that system on their Facebook page. An article featured on Chatbots.org mentions NoHold’s virtual agent integration in ViewSonic’s Facebook page. When you navigate to the page, click the “Support” tab, select the product, type in the question and the answer appears right within the page. Facebook virtual agents often allow the company to gather information from Facebook users’ profiles, giving the company an insight into their customers that is not possible with only a traditional website virtual agent. Since the questions are asked through social media, friends of your customers can see the interaction that took place as well.
Since Facebook is so interactive and most companies have Facebook business pages they update on a regular basis (it is free advertising, after all), it makes sense both for customers to ask questions via Facebook, and for companies to get these questions answered through the platform being used by these customers. Instead of having to search around the web for different websites and track down online support, customers that are already signed in to Facebook can conveniently access online customer service in less time and with fewer clicks. The social media aspect also gives them the chance to read other customers’ experiences right on the company page.
Nick Wilson, Managing Director at the Virtual Zone (a Creative Virtual development partner and the market leaders in social media for web self service) makes a good point: “People that interact with you on your Facebook page aren’t just people off the street, they are people you probably know and are connected to, which makes a huge difference.” The Virtual Zone has worked with Creative Virtual to implement their own virtual assistant, Paige, on their Facebook page. Paige is fully integrated, so that users can ask her questions without leaving the Facebook page, and can even “like” her answers and post them to their own wall. Web self service combined with social media opens up many new possibilities.