Mark Zuckerberg stood up on Tuesday during his keynote at the F8 conference and painted a vivid picture of how his company plans to connect all of us globally via the internet, including the 4 billion people who, currently, don’t have access to the net: through innovation, virtual reality, messaging, bots and live video. His vision is for us as a global nation to experience the world in a richer way.

Customer Service via Facebook Messenger

For a fuller picture of what’s in store, here are the 5 things that you need to know about what Facebook announced at F8 and how this 10 year vision is already providing a new wave of customer service in the platform.

1. Messenger

In December, with the launch of Messenger for business, Facebook showed they are serious about private messaging. Fast forward 4 months, and Messenger now has 900 million monthly active users with 60 billion messages a day. “Messaging and private communication will unlock platforms for all kinds of connectivity” with over a billion people active users using Facebook as Mark Zuckerberg told us – no one wants to have to install a new app for each brand you talk to. The future of customer experience is messaging a business like you message a friend, and getting quick responses.

This led a small number of businesses to trial Messenger for Business , with great success. As one of Facebook’s Marketing Partners, an example of a Conversocial customer delivering stellar customer service over Messenger is Sprint. You can read more about Sprint and their Messenger strategy here and how the rise of one-to-one messaging is changing the way Sprint engages with their consumer in real time over the mobile app.

Messenger as a platform is a way to connect your consumer with your brand and services in new ways, and we saw from F8 that Messenger can unlock the ability to provide personalized interactions about your brand’s product or service to help customers find basic information and make purchases automatically, while being able to seamlessly transition to human agents when they need support. More of that later in this blog…

Facebook also launched new features aimed at small business owners last week. Business pages now have usernames with @ signs similar to those used for tagging friends. These usernames will give each page a unique identity and allow users to interact with the business owners via the Messenger app, delivering the personal service you expect from a small business offline, mirroring in the online world. Other updates include a feature called Messenger Links and Codes, where business can share a clickable link or scannable QR-like codes that open a Messenger conversation with the business. Expect to see this rolled out on the Messenger platform to help you reach your customers more easily in the Facebook domain.

For those of you watching F8 more closely, you may have noticed our customer among our customers who gained first mover advantage in Messenger, Great Western Railway’s logo appearing on stage. GWR were one the first businesses using Messenger as a platform to deliver customer service to their passengers in the UK. You can check out our Messenger case study with Great Western Railway to see how they’ve been using the platform to serve their social passenger with real time responses to their train enquiries.

For more information on Messenger at F8 you can also check out Facebook’s newsroom blog and check out the Messenger platform here.

2. Bots Bots Bots

Via the Messenger Platform’s new Send/Receive API, bots can send more than just text. Our CEO Josh March, wrote about the rise of bots in his 2015 blog a new model—automation on the one side, humans on the other citing the example of Amazon, and the power of automation and self-service. As we know Amazon, invest heavily in their technology to make it easy and seamless to do almost everything you could want within the ecommerce experience from tracking packages, canceling, changing payment methods in a few clicks of a button.

The most anticipated announcement from F8 conference, is the rollout of ‘bots’. Although called ‘bots’, these are a new transactional user interface inside Messenger. An example would be if a customer goes to a hotel booking bot in Messenger and types ‘Seattle’, the bot then asks what date and the customer can then type their chosen date in the conversation. The customer is then served with you type an interactive carousel of hotels available on that date with images and buttons to click to book. Messenger then becomes a new primary UI for basic transactions versus the need for a brand’s mobile web or applications.

It’s important that we note that these it’s not a customer service bot and brands still needs humans for anything more than clicking buttons and occasional basic text entry into a customer conversations. It’s essential for brands to remember that it is should be easy and seamless for a human to go from bot to human help when they need to deliver the best social customer service possible to their customers through Messenger. The bot shouldn’t be pretending to be human, should be clear it’s transactional, and should always be fast and simple to get to a human if you have any questions.

Facebook Messenger has already begun to integrate “bots” – programs that let you chat with them via Messenger and respond to you, just like a customer service assistant would. The recent KLM bot sends your KLM flight confirmation, your boarding pass, check-in reminders, flight status.

3. Facebook Live Video

Bots or no bots, Facebook already showed its big investment in live video last week, debuting features to make it easier for users to find and share clips on their profiles.

It wasn’t long before Live Video was heralded as the “future of TV” thanks to an exploding watermelon streamed by Buzzfeed last Friday. What does that mean for developers and brands? Simple. It’s now a platform that’s more competitive with YouTube and Periscope. Facebook announced that they have now opened the API to stream video live through your pages.

4. Payments on Facebook

Major ticketing websites are following their users onto Facebook. In a move designed to boost sales, Ticketmaster and Eventbrite will start selling directly on Facebook by the end of April.

Initially general admission tickets for a limited number of events will be sold on the site, with an eventual plan to expand the listings. Facebook, which is already working with Uber, Lyft and Everlane, is expected to open up to even more brands at F8. With the benefits of Messenger also being able to capable in delivering transaction receipts from brands to customers, expect more from Facebook with payments in future.

5. Virtual Reality

Though virtual reality has been an ancillary business for Facebook, the Oculus-owner boasts several VR sessions on the technology at F8. We can expect more partnership announcements, starting with sports and entertainment companies, to emerge following F8 including the idea around users creating their own VR content.

Want to learn more best practices and optimization tips when integrating Facebook Messenger into your Social Customer Service solution? Download our White Paper now to learn more!