Straightforward, easy, and no-frills mobile communication is one of the critical factors to ensure present-day efficient customer service. This need explains why platforms such as enterprise SMS/text messaging and mobile chat apps such as WhatsApp for Business are fast becoming the top tools of choice among businesses and organizations, allowing their customers to reach and interact with their brand in platforms where they are already active and are much more likely to respond to their campaigns.
Apple, one of the biggest names in the mobile technology, has become aware of this trend and recently joined the business messaging arena by rolling out their own Business Chat feature on their native iOS Messages App.
Released alongside iOS 11.3 in March 2018, Apple Business Chat aims to provide businesses with a new way to connect with their customers in real-time, helping them to answer queries, resolve issues, and complete transactions quickly,all within the iMessages app.
Here are some of the key features of Apple Business Chat:
- Customer Support – Using Business Chat, customers can chat with a business, make a purchase, schedule appointments, ask a general question, file a complaint, etc. – all from the same chat thread.
- Shop – Customers will be able to shop and buy products and book services directly from Business Chat. The caveat though is that customers’ only payment option is through Apple Pay. Business Chat also allows businesses to display their in-stock items in a list format directly in the conversation, thus eliminating the need for the customer to open a new window.
- Appointments – Customers can link Business Chat with their own calendar, enabling the app to smartly suggest time slots that won’t conflict with their schedule.
In order to utilize these features, Apple said that companies would need to register and log-in with one of the following customer service platforms that have already integrated with Business Chat such as: LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance, Genesys, InTheChat, Zendesk, Quik, Cisco, and eGain.
Which Businesses Are Using Apple Business Chat?
Upon its release, a handful of companies had already integrated Apple Business Chat into their customer service platforms. These include Discover, Hilton, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Four Seasons, T Mobile, Wells Fargo, and 1-800 Flowers.
Apple plans to roll out more features into the app to make it more appealing to enterprises. At present, the feature is available in the US, as well as in Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Apple Business Chat: Should You Use It?
By introducing Business Chat, Apple only confirms the ever-growing importance of having a dedicated, enterprise-grade communication platform in today’s business landscape. Now more than ever, people are seeking an easy way to interact with brands and execute purchase decisions with less fuss involve as possible.
However, before you decide to integrate this new platform into your customer service, you must first consider if it is the right solution needed by your customers – and equally important, required by key regulators.
One of the key factors that makes some businesses hesitant to adopt this new feature is that it only works on Apple devices. This can put businesses in the Asian market at a disadvantage where the Android OS owns 85% of the market share.
Furthermore, Google is nearing a full roll-out of Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging into all Android devices, which would finally take SMS messaging into a whole new level, while retaining the users who have grown fond of texting.
Apple Business Chat will also face a hard time competing with more developed chat apps in the market, such as WhatsApp – which currently is the most popular messaging app in 45 countries. Working on both iOS and Android devices, WhatsApp also has its own enterprise-grade messaging app — which also offers features similar to Apple Business Chat.
Another key factor that businesses should consider before adopting Apple Business Chat is the text message archiving regulations that they must comply with. Archiving iMessages can be quite a challenge since it uses end-to-end encryption via a secure network, rather than through a mobile carrier’s network. If the customer chooses to initiate a conversation with a business through iMessage, this can pose a compliance risk for businesses that are required to capture and retain text messages/conversations with clients such as financial services firms and public agencies.
Companies, still, can take advantage of Apple Business Chat and comply with critical archiving regulations in place by using the TeleMessage enterprise number archiver archiving platform that can capture and record IP-based text messages. By doing so, businesses can still take advantage of the full potential of Apple Business Chat without the risk of non-compliance with various text message archiving regulations.