Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this year featured a huge announcement centered around making its much anticipated Business Chat product widely available. This is a game changer for the industry, and while Business Chat is still in its early stages, it’s important for brands to start looking at capabilities, potential impact, and best practices for approaching this new customer service channel vis-à-vis existing support platforms.
A New Channel to Reach Consumers
Brands that register with Apple Business Chat will now be able to “chat” directly with customers across online and offline channels. Messaging with a business will now have the same look and feel as having an iMessage conversation with friends. This new medium will include the following capabilities:
- Search on iPhone: When consumers search for a brand on their iPhone, the brand will show up with a small “chat” icon that when pressed will immediately start a chat with the business. This functionality will be embedded in Siri, Safari, and Maps as well.
- Web and In-app Chat: Brands will be able to include a “chat” button across digital channels such as mobile websites and their native iOS apps that will directly begin a message thread.
- Real World Chat: Customers will be able to scan a supported QR code that opens up the chat interaction while they are at brick and mortar locations.
In addition to these primary capabilities, Business Chat will also feature a mix of pre-made and custom applications so brands can deliver a unique service experience to their customers. Brands will have access to these functions:
- Easy Triage – An embedded List Picker allows brands to offer specific experiences to customers based on their selection of why they are contacting the brand.
- Appointment Scheduling – The Date Picker allows for easy in-chat scheduling, in which customers can select a day and time for an appointment.
- Payment Processing– Customers can purchase with Apple Pay, which is readily integrated into the chat experience.
- Customer Authentication– This is a breakthrough capability that enables brands to securely authenticate customers right within the chat and then deliver a personalized experience based on that information. Customers will also have access to a scrollable history of all previous conversations.
- Custom Native iOS Experiences – Brands can leverage advanced features such as live video, map-based experiences, and augmented reality to create unique experiences for their customers.
Why It Matters: Impact and Benefits
With 4.1 billion users of mobile messaging apps across the globe, Apple has recognized a fundamental shift in how customers want to communicate with businesses. The ability to press a button and connect with a brand has tremendous benefits for businesses across the customer journey.
One of the most obvious benefits is that this experience will result in higher customer satisfaction. Customers of B2C brands will not have to wait on hold as they will be easily and instantly connected with the brand. This frictionless experience will lead to happy customers that stick around longer.
But it’s not just about customer retention: Business Chat will help with customer acquisition as well. Customers will be more likely to engage with new businesses because it will be so easy to reach out to brands, and vice versa. That’s because brands can build custom applications that will provide them with new ways to sell to customers right with the chat message.
Business Chat will enhance opportunities for brands to increase their revenue at every touchpoint. At the same time, these brands will also be able to automate simple and routine tasks that will reduce operational costs as well.
This is indeed the new world of customer service, and Helpshift is an integral part of this emerging support ecosystem. Learn more here.