Facebook has introduced some hefty new tools and updates for businesses and developers using its Messenger application. Moreover, the Discover tab, where people were able to search businesses, Messenger bots and nearby places, will phase out.

These new tools “designed to improve the user experience for people, and create more opportunities to drive business outcomes, on Messenger”, include lead generation messaging templates, real-time appointment booking, and event reporting.

Lead generation gives businesses the ability to create ads that click to Messenger. This will lead the prospect customers interested in that business to their messenger chat. Automated responses (generally custom questions and corresponding responses) can then guide those customers to their desired product or service that business is offering.

Basically, what it does it leads potential customers straight to the businesses chat in Messenger. It also integrates easily with that business’ CRM (Customer Resource Management) and can send reminders too.

Another tool that has been added is appointment booking that lets businesses accept appointments in real-time directly through Messenger. With this, they can convert Messenger conversations into in-store traffic, online and phone appointments, and more. Also, businesses will be able to report and track conversions that take place in Messenger. These features will roll out later this year for businesses and developers.

As mentioned earlier, the Discover tab will phase out, but people will still be able to search for businesses (through the search feature, of course). Also, businesses will continue to appear through advertisements.

“We will put more investment into tools to connect people and businesses – including updates to m.me links (a shortened URL service operated by Facebook), web plugins, various entry points across our family of apps, as well as ad products – that lead to Messenger,” the company said in a blog post.

Apart from these changes, Facebook has updated the Standard Messaging window to 24 hours which means businesses will now have 24 hours to respond to customer queries. Beyond 24 hours, message tags and sponsored messages can be utilized.

Message tags have been simplified with four cases – post-purchase updates, event reminders, account updates, and human agent. This feature lets businesses send personalized messages to individual customers. In case, a business wants to send promotional content to many people, this can be done through sponsored messages.

Facebook has updated its platform policy regarding subscription messaging. Subscription messages allow news publishers to send regular news updates to their subscribers in Messenger. Facebook has decided to limit access to this feature as some new publishers violated the company’s policy.

This feature is only available for registered news Pages under the Facebook News Page Index (NPI), the company said. Pages that are registered with NPI can opt-in for subscription messages outside the 24 hours window. Also, Facebook warns that this service shouldn’t be used for promoting content other than new content.

Updated policies will take effect from January 2020 while the new tools for businesses will roll out within the next few weeks.