Facebook Is Now Kustomer-Centric: The 2021 CRM Conversation Starters

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Facebook, together with its Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger services, has been providing businesses with opportunities to interact with customers—and vice versa—for quite some time, but until recently, few would consider Facebook a customer service company. That all changed in December 2020 when the social media giant acquired Kustomer, a provider of CRM systems that enable businesses to manage customer interactions across channels, for $1 billion.

The move comes as Facebook increasingly looks to help companies do business on its site and makes a larger push into social commerce.

“Kustomer is one of many solutions in this arena, and we’ll continue to support the numerous options that businesses have to integrate their CRM platform of choice with our messaging services. We want businesses of all sizes and across all industries to discover the value of messaging, and having a vibrant partner ecosystem is critical in providing our customers with choices,” Facebook’s Dan Levy, vice president of ads and business products, and Matt Idema, chief operations officer of Facebook’s WhatsApp, wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

Facebook expects to host Kustomer data on its own infrastructure, and while Facebook will not automatically use Kustomer data to inform the ads that users see on Facebook, businesses can use that data for their own marketing purposes.

Marketing and commerce through Facebook also got easier when the company a year ago launched Facebook Shop, a tab within the main Facebook app where people can find and then purchase products.

At the same time, Facebook expanded its Shops product, which lets people and companies sell products on Facebook and Instagram, and added customization options, messaging, and insights. Sellers can communicate with customers through Messenger, Instagram Direct, and WhatsApp; host live streaming shopping events; and complete transactions through a new Instagram Checkout feature.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he expected commerce and payments to be the future of the company in 2019, and he’s making good on that promise.

And when Instagram a year ago launched its Messenger API, which allows companies and organizations to govern their Instagram-related communications from their preferred social media and customer care management platforms, CRM companies immediately started lining up to integrate it. Hootsuite, Genesys, Zendesk, Reputation, Gupshup, Socialbakers, Emplifi, Pypestream, Sprout Social, Mitto, and Nuance Communications were among the first CRM vendors to support the new platform.

“These days we’re seeing the entire customer journey happening on social media,” said Ryan Donovan, chief technology officer at Hootsuite, at the time. “And we’re coming to understand more and more that social customer care actually touches every phase of that journey.”

“Instagram is one of the most influential social platforms, but until now, brands haven’t been able to fully tap into the marketing potential of the platform, as there wasn’t an easy way to privately respond to questions and provide information at scale,” added Barry O’Sullivan, executive vice president and general manager of Genesys Digital and AI. “With Messenger API for Instagram, we can enable brands to engage at a deeper level to influence the consumer journey from discovery to purchase, forging stronger customer relationships while extending the value of marketing spend.”

“Instagram is now available for all developers who make it possible for brands to improve and enhance messaging experiences with customers,” said Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, vice president of platform partnerships at Messenger, in a statement. “By integrating the Messenger API for Instagram, businesses and developers can effectively scale messaging workflows to better own the customer experience and build more authentic relationships.”

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