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Parlo Blog

Your Consumers Want To Chat, But Are You Listening?

Posted by Aditya Subbarao on Aug 12, 2016 11:40:26 AM


Nobody likes being given the silent treatment, especially your consumers. Yet brands do it all the time, whether they realize it or not.

Over the past year, the top 4 messaging apps have surpassed the top 4 social networks with over 3 billion monthly active users. In other words, nearly half the world’s population is using 1 out of 4 messaging apps. 


The question is, as consumers begin to reach out to brands via messaging apps, are brands prepared to listen and respond?

Ever since Facebook opened up its chat app Messenger to businesses last year, over 1 billion conversations have taken place between brands and consumers! 

At first glance, this would suggest that brands have fully embraced this new line of communication to drive brand conversations with consumers. But here at Parlo we wanted to find out for ourselves just how effectively brands are utilizing Messenger to engage with their consumers.

We put together a study with this objective in mind and our results were quite interesting.

Our Study

Over the past 7 days, we reached out to 200 online retail brands (25% large and 75% small to mid-sized) on Facebook Messenger asking whether they had any ongoing promotions. We then took a step back and studied the responses we received. Our messages were each sent during standard business hours and the brand responses were tested along two main criteria:

  1. Speed – How long did brands take to respond to our initial message?

  2. Personalization – How tailored was each brand’s response to our inquiry? 

    We expected brands to value both of these criteria as being vital to creating a satisfying customer support experience. 

Our Findings

Of the 200 brands we messaged, only 86% allowed Facebook messages to be sent to them, meaning that 14% were either unaware of the messaging channel or opted to stop listening to consumers this way entirely.

Among those brands who could listen, here are the response speeds we observed:

47% did not respond to chat requests at all, even after many days. This is the equivalent of having a working phone number that no one ever picks up. 

took 1+ days to get back. Basically like FedEx, or worse, snail mail via chat. Keep in mind that we are talking about speed on a mobile smartphone device here.

took between 1-24 hours to respond, similar to same day delivery via chat. So someone could place an online order and receive their package before hearing back from these brands.

Only 6% of all brands
 were setup for engaging in real-time conversation. These brands were all responsive within 5 minutes. And only 2% of all brands responded within 1 minute, simulating what a real human conversation should feel like. These are the brands who have fully embraced and prioritized messaging into their customer support experience and are open for business via chat.

Take a look at the full results for yourself: 


Results by Company Size

We also made an effort to differentiate how larger brands responded to messages in comparison to SMBs.

Chat Enabled

Large Brands





Not Listening



There was no noticeable difference in brands who were chat enabled. Those companies not listening had disabled the “message us” function from their fan page to completely prevent users from coming in through this channel.

Response Speed

Large Brands


1 minute or less



1-5 minutes



1-24 hours



1+ day(s)



Did not respond



This suggests that larger brands have staff listening to conversations and manually responding throughout the day. On the other hand, SMBs are making it a priority to respond very quickly and personally to consumer inquiries as they come in or they are not responding at all.

Degree of Personalization

Large Brands


Highly Personalized-
(references your name, conversational language, very relevant to the inquiry, no evident use of a template)  



Slightly Personalized-
(references your name, more formal language, partially relevant to the inquiry, partially based on a template)



Entirely Canned (based on a template)




Larger brands relied on canned responses much more heavily than SMBs which suggests a priority placed on automated conversations with less incentives to carry the dialogue any further.

Meanwhile, SMBs relied almost entirely on personalized conversations emphasizing one-to-one human engagement. Roughly 15% of conversations were canned which suggests that smaller brands are slowly embracing automation.  By reducing the ammount of time spent manually responding to consumer inquiries, staff can have more flexibility by engaging in more conversations and chosing when to prioritize personalization.

In general, we found that canned responses were sent either instantly or took over 24 hours, whereas personalized messages took 6.5 hours on average to be sent.

Key Takeways

As a marketer you might ask why this matters so much, especially if your business is well known for having excellent customer service. However, a chat experience similar to what 93% of these brands provided would be extremely frustrating and unhelpful for most consumers looking for immediate assistance. We can clearly see a disconnect between how consumers and brands use messaging apps.

Although brands are now able to communicate with their consumers on messaging channels, 14% were still unaware or choose to neglect this marketing channel altogether. By disabling the messaging function on a brand’s fan page, you are essentially telling consumers that “I will not listen to you, unless you speak my way.” This represents a lost opportunity for both brands and consumers to engage on a more personal level.

Overall, for those brands trying to use messaging as a marketing channel, 50% were not yet equipped to handle a high volume of chat conversations and the other 50% have a dedicated staff responding to these messages quickly and personally. By paying attention to personalization and speed, brands are more likely to direct their marketing efforts towards sparking new conversations and discovering new ways of audience building using messaging channels.

Ultimately, as our study shows, despite the billions of conversations taking place on Messenger, very few brands have fully embraced this channel as an opportunity to drive brand conversations. Digital marketers must eventually face the fact that consumers will keep looking for more natural and expedient ways to communicate with the brands they love. They will continue to ask questions and expect your brand to respond. So you must begin asking yourself…am I listening?

About Us 

ParloTM is an enterprise platform that creates smarter bots for smarter conversations via messaging apps. We enable digital marketers to create delightful brand experiences and commerce opportunities in the mobile moments of consumers.

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Topics: ChatBots