Google's Business Messages

Google's Business Messages is a channel that combines entry points on Google Maps, Google Search and brand websites to enable direct chat with your customers from their mobile devices. Give your customers a chance to connect with a live agent and improve your customer trust and loyalty by responding via Sprout.

You can set up your active hours when you can respond to any incoming messages, answer questions and ensure your customers have the latest information about your business and business locations.

This article contains the following sections:

Scenario

Let’s say that you lead the customer care social media team for your brand. As a part of your strategy, you want to encourage the loyalty of nearby customers at your brick and mortar locations. 

To do this, you decide to add Business Messages to your Smart Inbox to supplement your customer care for nearby customers. You connect Business Messages to your Sprout account and get set up. 

To increase loyalty, your teams must respond quickly to incoming messages and questions. You need to set up a time that works across your locations, so members of each customer care team are available. 

Now that you’ve decided on the available hours, you need a quick way to surface the Business Messages to your team. You create an Inbox View to channel all of your Business Messages. Now, you can quickly respond to your nearby customers, answering their questions quickly and encouraging them to visit your brick and mortar locations.

Other use cases

Google's Business Messages isn’t just for supplementing your customer care social strategy. You can also use Business Messages if:

  • You want to spend less time on the phone answering questions. You can quickly share information about availability and bookings with multiple customers via message instead. 
  • You want to keep customer service inquiries separated by location. This way, you don’t need to manage multiple social media accounts for each brick and mortar location.
  • You want to provide direct access to a live team for quick mitigation of customer concerns and serve up a personalized customer care experience.

How-to

Let’s explore how to use Business Messages in Sprout to respond to your customers and enhance customer care. 

Connecting your Business Messages profile

To get started with Business Messages, you must have a Google My Business profile attached to your Sprout account.

To connect your Business Messages profile:

  1. Navigate to your name in Sprout.
  2. Click Connect a Profile. The Connect a Profile window opens.
    1.1_Google_Business_Message_as_a_new_option.png
  3. Click Connect for Google Business Messages. 
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  4. Click Next.
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  5. Fill out the information for your Google's Business Messages profile including your:
    • Brand name
    • Logo
    • Agent name
    • Welcome message
    • Availability or Live chat times & days
  6. Click Next.
    bf72c51d-7012-4f70-88f4-fb709c9c798b.png
  7. Review your agent and brand information to make sure everything looks ok and agree to the terms of use.
  8. Click Submit. Your brand information is reviewed by the Sprout team for approval, which can take 1-5 business days.
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After your Business Messages profile is connected, you receive an email notification each time you receive a new message in the Smart Inbox. You can manage the email notifications in your Settings, provided you have the Manage Profiles & Permissions Company permission.

Managing your Agent settings

After Sprout configures your Business Messages profile, you can make any updates to your agent. You can adjust your welcome message or offline message within Settings.

GBM_Settings.gif

 

To make updates:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Users & Social Profiles.
  2. Select image5.png from the Profiles list to see only your Business Messages profiles.
  3. Click image2.png > View Profile. The Manage Profile window appears.
  4. Click image3.png to show the Agent Settings.
  5. Click Edit Agent. The Edit Agent Settings popup appears. Remember, your Agent Name should be the name of your brand or business, not an individual's name. Your welcome message is the first message your customer is greeted with. Rather than including something like, "I'll be right with you," aim for a greeting that welcomes the customer and lets them know that they can submit a question. For example, "Thank you for reaching out to our brand. How can we help you today?"
  6. Click Save.

Verifying permissions 

After your Business Messages connection is made, you need to confirm permissions for the Sprout users you want to manage the messages you receive in the Smart Inbox. 

image11.png

To verify and grant permission:

  1. Navigate to Account and settings > Settings.
  2. Click Users & Social Profiles.
  3. Click image5.png.
  4. Click image2.png > View Profile for the Business Messages account you want to manage permissions for.
  5. Click the Profile Permissions dropdown for the user you want to give access to.
  6. Select Full Publishing for the users you want to give access to.
  7. Click Done.

Turning off a location

If you run into a situation where a particular location is temporarily closed, you might want to turn off messaging for that location. To turn off a location:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Users & Social Profiles.
  2. Select image5.png from the Profiles list to see only your Business Messages profiles.
  3. Click image2.png > View Profile for the Business Messages profile you want to turn off. The Manage Profile window appears.
  4. Toggle Enabled off.
    image4.png
  5. Click Done.

You can always navigate back to your settings to turn a location back on. Note that once you turn a location back on, it can take up to three hours for the message feature to appear on Google Maps and Search.

Filtering in the Smart Inbox

After your Business Messages profile is connected, messages should start appearing in your Smart Inbox during your available hours.

In the Smart Inbox, two filter types are available for Profiles and Message Types. You see two additional Profile filters for your overall Business Messages agent and then additional Profile filters for each specific location for your business. 

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When a customer messages you from Google Maps, the message is sent to Sprout, where it’s then routed to your Smart Inbox with the appropriate profile filters applied. 

You can also filter your Smart Inbox by the Private Message type, which limits the view to just your Business Messages. These filters are a great way to narrow your Smart Inbox focus, but Sprout recommends creating an Inbox View to use during your active messaging hours.
image9.png

Creating an Inbox View

An Inbox View is the best way to manage your Business Messages during active hours. With this view created, you can sort the Inbox View from oldest to newest (or vice-versa), quickly respond to messages, tag and bulk complete groups of messages.

To create an Inbox View for your Business Messages:

  1. Click Create New from the Saved Views list in the Messages tab.
  2. Select the Profile filters for your agent and specific location from the Filter Menu.
  3. Select the Message Type filter of Private Message from the Filter Menu.
  4. image1.png
  5. Enable Spike Alerts to ensure users of the view are notified of larger message volume.
  6. Click Save

Responding to a Business Message

To respond to Business Messages in Sprout:

  1. Navigate to the Smart Inbox.
  2. Select the Business Message you want to reply to. 
  3. Click image7.png, and then enter your response. The Private Reply window appears.
  4. Click Submit for Approval or click Send from the dropdown.
    image8.png

 

FAQs

How quickly do I need to respond to Business Messages?

Ideally, you should respond to messages within a few minutes. Google tracks Merchant Response Rate (MRR) and expects that brands respond to new messages within 24 hours, 95 percent of the time. You’ll receive emails to let you know of your performance, but make sure you set availability hours that you can devote to answering messages.

What if I don’t have the information I need to answer the question?

Talk to someone internally, and then provide the answer to the customer as quickly as possible. Sprout recommends reaching out to the person at your business that has the information to answer the question, if they aren’t in Sprout. Otherwise, you can submit a response for approval or assign another Sprout user to answer the question. Either way, make sure to respond to the customer to let them know you’re looking for the information, so you don’t adversely affect your response time.

Can I use my Reply Approval workflow for Business Messages?

You can, but as a best practice, Sprout doesn’t recommend implementing this workflow. Your response rates need to be as timely as possible, and unless your Reply Approval workflow can happen in a matter of minutes, it’s recommended that you respond to incoming messages ASAP. 

Is there a time limit on restarting a conversation with Business Messages?

Yes, you have a 30-day restart window for any messages that come in through Business Messages.

How are messages from my agent routed?

You add your available hours for your brand agent, and these hours trickle down to your various business locations. It’s important to select available hours that span across your locations, so messages can get answered quickly. For instance, if you’re in the Central Standard time zone, you might set your available hours from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. That way, locations across the U.S. would be available from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. PST, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. MTN and 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. EST. 

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