One of the use cases Facebook is most focused on is customer service.

While there’s still skepticism about social media as a customer service channel, and some businesses have been reluctant to embrace it as such, the reality is that customers are using services like Facebook and Twitter to seek support from the companies they do business with.

In an effort to better support customer service interactions, Facebook has added a number of features to Pages, including…

Response time display

Earlier this year, Facebook began highlighting businesses that, on average, respond within five minutes of receiving a message through their Facebook Pages.

Now, Pages will display average response times even if they don’t meet that standard. To help businesses set expectations, they can also change what’s displayed. 

“Average response times for Pages are calculated for each Page automatically and the response time shown on the Page defaults to their average response time, but admins can now control what response time shows publicly on their Page.

So even if a Page typically responds to messages within an hour, they can can set their visible response time to within a day and set customer expectations accordingly,” Facebook explained.

In addition, businesses can configure an Away mode to let customers know that they are not currently available to respond to messages as quickly as usual, and can create Away Messages and Instant Replies, which function like email autoresponders.

A redesigned inbox

One of the biggest challenges companies face in using social media for customer service is that many of the tools they’re given by social platforms were not designed with customer service in mind. Facebook is aiming to change that with a redesigned inbox that provides more context.

The redesigned inbox makes it easy for Page admins to view past messages from a particular user, and to quickly view basic profile information, like location, alongside the user’s message. Additionally, Page admins can tag coversations add notes about users.

According to Facebook, “These changes help Page admins keep up with messages faster and manage conversations more easily.”

New comment tools

Because comments are also commonly used for customer service purposes, Facebook has created a new tool that businesses can use to monitor and respond to comments left on their Pages.

Using the tool, Page admins can identify comments that need to be responded to, quickly view information about the user who posted the comment, and manage workflow, like marking comments as responded to.

So is Facebook now a viable customer service platform?

Clearly, Facebook is attempting to address the customer service interactions that are taking place on its platform.

Its functionality may not do enough for some companies, particularly those that have invested heavily in their own customer service platforms, but with 50m business Pages, many of them operated by small businesses, Facebook’s newest features arguably represent steps in the right direction.

Of course, businesses will need to embrace these features, but the days of arguing that social platforms aren’t suitable for customer service because they don’t support customer service use cases very well are numbered.