One of the main features we wanted to include in Spaces was the ability for a Space’s customers, supporters, fans and so on, to be able to message a Space in a quick efficient way. We also wanted to provide a Space with a means of maintaining a degree of anonymity when replying. This is a fundamental difference to BuddyBoss Groups, which is more about community engagement, rather than individual conversations with a company or other entity.
We wanted to take our lead from Facebook, where multiple page administrators can respond to enquiries, but all doing so as official representatives of that organization. Facebook had created their native messaging service, from the ground up, to allow this to happen. As a result, organizations can engage with their users, safe in the knowledge that individual members of staff cannot be identified, therefore increasing engagement.
Unfortunately, the BuddyPress messaging system, that the BuddyBoss messaging system is built on top of, is now over a decade old. It was never conceived to work for the use-case we required and has one very obvious flaw. An individual message can only come from a member. The native messaging system expects (and requires) that an identified member is both a sender, and a receiver. As a result, it didn’t meet the criteria we required.
How did you solve the problem?
We wrote a new messaging system, from the ground up. Every Space has it’s own dedicated inbox (just like a Facebook Page), and it’s accessible by every Space administrator. Any of those admins can respond, and when they do, they respond as the Space itself, not as a user. When a Space receives a message, the system automatically notifies every administrator of that Space, giving the next available admin a chance to quickly respond. This is hugely important where a company, organization or other brand may be judged on their response time.
How did you envisage Spaces Messaging to be used?
BuddyBoss has a powerful messaging system already. As you have seen, it was built for substantial peer-to-peer conversation, including using threads so whole groups of people can talk together. Spaces Messaging is very different. Think back to the last time you contacted a company or other organization. You most likely didn’t send each other 100’s of messages. Or, if you did, you probably had a named contact by that point. More likely, you asked whether a shop was open on a Sunday. You wanted to know whether a particular t-shirt came in a particular size. You wanted to get a list of allergens for a pizza. Spaces Messaging is built for this kind of contact. Short, snappy engagement with a business, organization or brand. Lightweight – no threads. No unnecessary attachments. Every representative of your organization immediately ready to respond.
What does the future have in store for Spaces Messaging?
As Spaces Messaging is a fully bespoke system, we can offer an exciting range of future features, focused on the needs of companies, organizations, charities, people and more. You may already have seen the start of some awesome auditing and record-keeping functionality, such as message timestamps, and labels underneath showing which admin wrote a response (all hidden from the user).
How does Spaces Messaging improve the user experience for a Space’s users?
For Space admins themselves, having a dedicated inbox is ground-breaking and a very powerful tool for user engagement. But we understand that users who want to communicate with a Space need a great user experience too. Already, a user sees a second link inside the notification header icon, so they can go straight to their Space inbox.
They can also reach their inbox through their profile, as you’d expect. When a user clicks on the message button on a Space, they immediately see their inbox, and the Space is automatically selected so they can ask questions straight away.