Apple enters the age of conversational commerce with Business Chat

With influential messaging platforms such as Messenger, WhatsApp or WeChat, messaging has certainly become a very big deal for businesses. Conversations are now at the heart of the online customer journey. And Apple won’t miss out on this trend: the brand launches its own messaging channel for customer service and inbound sales called Business Chat

During the 2017 Edition of the WWDC (Apple Worldwide Developers Conference ) which took place June 5-9 in San José, Apple announced Business Chat, the business feature of its Messages app. Soon, businesses will be able to interact with their customers via iMessage and use the messaging app as a customer service touchpoint with some extra tools. In this article, you will find out more about Apple’s new innovation and how it is going to establish Apple in the age of conversational commerce. 


Connect with customers directly from within Messages

Last year iOS 10 was the biggest iOS release so far, this year, Apple has decided to keep up with this conversational trend and Business Chat clearly takes advantage of the innovations which began with iOS 10 and even enhances them. Elevating the customer experience takes coordination and time. Apple is doing it step by step. 

Read more: With iOS 10, iMessage is more conversational than ever

With Business Chat, individuals can open Messages and start a conversation with a business, it can go from basic text messages to more complex interactions. So businesses can offer different options to their customers while chatting: they can schedule appointments by proposing different time periods to their customers via Time Picker, send them lists (of products for example) with List Picker, send links for customers to pay directly with Apple Pay or send an app for customers to interact with (with a get the app” button for example). Business Chat is all about rich interactions between businesses and their customers. 

This way, customers can:

  • get answers to their questions while browsing from anywhere on their Apple devices: they will be able to see a message button to interact with a business on Business Chat from Safari, Maps, Spotlight and Siri. And it’s also an advantage for brands as they are becoming ubiquitous!
  • Resolve issues from their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch… but also from any links they may tap on from their Apple Mobile devices (links on an email or website for example)
  • Complete transactions via Apple Pay in a secure manner as chats are encrypted on Business Chat.

Read more: Will Siri be the next step for Artificial Intelligence?

And businesses can:

  • associate their online business with their brick and mortar stores: developers can link the NFC technology and photo uploads in the app for real world interactions to happen. With iMessage’s extensions, customers can also select their seat on a plane for example.
  • offer payments on the app without any middle party: customers pay on Business Chat directly via Apple Pay.
  • provide their users with a seamless experience: everything can be done from Messages (from search, recommendations to payment).

“Every single new feature presented by Apple is easily and perfectly integrated with the brand’s ecosystem. Business Chat is no exception to the rule and is integrated directly within Messages. Users already know the app and can use Business Chat to have a smooth and rich conversational experience with the brands of their choice. Simon Liotier, iOS developer at iAdvize.

Apple enters the age of conversational commerce 

Users have total control over the conversation

The aim of Business Chat is to change how consumers are engaging with businesses and create a human experience. The customer has to initiate the conversation, businesses cannot. What does it mean for businesses? They need to be useful whenever customers need them. And if they are not? Users can simply mute the conversation they have with them or permanently delete it by simply tapping on it.

“Business Chat is the new way to help your customers directly in their daily life only when they ask for it. Like they use the Messages app to chat with their friends and family, they will now be able to contact you at any time keeping the focus on what they need and the control on how they will be notified.” Alexandre Karst, iOS developer at iAdvize.

Read more: 4 tips to engage your customers on mobile

Interactions depend on the customers’ context

Apple has added a simple and yet very useful feature to Business Chat: chat intent. Now, businesses can understand the context of the customers they are interacting with. How? They simply add elements on the links they share to interact on Business Chat! This way, they can track customers on where and when they tapped on the link to go to Business Chat to know which product they need help with for example. It can be of great help to businesses to distribute conversations to the right agent (if customers are on the product page of a specific product or service one of the brand’s customer service agents is specialised in or if they are on a page dedicated to customer support they could be put in contact with the support team directly for example).

Read more: Distribute your conversations more accurately with iAdvize

Business Chat as a customer service tool 

Business Chat will be part of iOS 11 which will be available in September for iPhone and iPad. It is already available in beta version for developers to test and get ready. Surely brands will not only use Business Chat as their online customer service tool but instead, add it as an additional channel to their customer service strategy. That’s where the conversational commerce trend is very important for them: it’s important for brands to focus on their users’ favourite channels (Messenger, Twitter or iMessage for example) and centralise all the requests in one single conversational commerce platform to save time and better respond to their customers and prospects! 

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