Apple Business Chat Is Coming: 5 Things You Need to Know


Customer Support Re-IMagined


More and more consumers are demanding digital interactions with companies, and the strongest push is for IM apps. Apple has gotten the message.  Actually, it gets the message up to 200,000 times per second. That’s the peak volume Apple says its iMessages handles. Now the company has introduced Business Chat, a tool that integrates real-time, multi-function customer support into iMessages.


Business Chat works on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch and requires iOS 11.3 or later. Here’s the word on Business Chat, what to watch out for and how you can get in on the conversation. 


1. What It Does

Business Chat lets consumers contact a business using a type of communication they already know and use with friends. Users bypass corporate websites and self-service voice menus to book appointments, ask questions, resolve issues, shop and make purchases, virtually all without leaving the iMessages app. (However, some complex interactions may require downloading a company’s app.) 


2. Business Gets Personal 

The tool is personal, friendly and fast. A chat button pops up when users enter a registered business name in Safari, Maps, Spotlight or Siri, and then they can immediately start texting. A predictive text feature lets them enter their email address, location or other contact information with a tap instead of typing. An appointment-setting feature scans a user’s calendar and homes in on conflict-free time slots.


3. Easy Integration 

Business Chat is easy for businesses as well as customers. It’s configured for smooth integration with a company’s existing customer service platforms, so support staff doesn’t have to learn a whole new system. Companies can customize with options from their own apps, such as airline seat selection, and developers can add QR codes and other features.


3. Apple Pay Built-In

Apple Pay is also integrated into Business Chat. After browsing a list of available products, customers can make a selection and complete a purchase—all without opening another window. But be warned: Apple Pay and Apple Pay Cash are the only payment options. While reducing possible security risks, eliminating third-party payers limits consumers’ payment choices. 


4. No Social Media Needed 

Facebook Messenger has a similar feature, but here Business Chat has an advantage: Customers don’t have to go through social media, with its associated security and data concerns. Interactions are private and anonymous, unless a customer wants to share personal information (to set up appointments or deliveries.) When a transaction is finished, the user deletes the chat thread and all communication ends until and unless the customer starts another chat. 


5. When Will Business Chat Be Available?

Apple Business Chat is available now in beta, and only in the United States. Major players such as Ameritrade, Discover, Hilton, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marriott, Wells Fargo and 1-800 Flowers have already come aboard.


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