Apple rolls out Business Chat for iMessage
- At the WWDC event, Apple announced Business Chat for iMessage in a developer preview, as reported by Venture Beat. Consumers initiate chats by clicking on message icons that appear next to business names in Maps, searches or Siri, according to Venture Beat.
- Apple partnered with Nuance Communications to allow consumers to directly connect with businesses via Apple Messages per a press release made available to Marketing Dive. The technology integrates Apple Business Chat with Nuance’s Digital Customer Engagement Platform and allows Apple customers to connect with banks, airlines, telecom and retail providers for direct conversations, according to the press release.
- Business Chat will be available on iOS 11 devices and will compete with other customer service messaging options including Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Skype and WhatsApp.
Customers have to initiate Business Chat conversations, but from that point businesses can do anything from scheduling appointments to making sales. People also have the ability to silence chats with businesses and completely cut off contact by deleting the conversation.
Business Chat isn’t a standalone technology and requires businesses to work with a third-party customer service platform such as Nuance, LivePerson, Genesys or Salesforce.
With this launch, Apple enters a crowded field of messaging apps that offer customer service and other connection points for businesses and consumers. Facebook is already in the space with Messenger and WhatsApp. Messenger is seen as marketer-friendly given the ability to use chatbots and make in-app payments. In March, there were reports that Facebook was conducting tests that would allow businesses to open chats in its WhatsApp messaging app as part of a partnership with a startup accelerator program. Marketers
Business Chat wasn’t the only recent announcement from Apple. It also introduced Apple Pay, a person-to-person payment option for Messages; it rolled out ARKit, an augmented reality (AR) developer platform; and it introduced HomePod, its answer to Amazon’s Alexa-powered personal digital assistants including the Echo and Dot devices and Google’s Home device.