This year at WWDC 2017, Apple announced the developer preview of Business Chat: a new, deeply integrated way to communicate with your iOS users. While chatting with customers is not a new idea, Apple’s Business Chat carries an aura of a powerful, unique tool that can be custom tailored to enhance an industry user experience. By integrating custom chat flows and chat apps, Business Chat invites the user to continue coming back over and over again.
Before detailing the features and use cases, we want to note that once Business Chat is released to production, businesses will be required to integrate via one of the four approved providers: LivePerson, Nuance, Genesys, or Salesforce. This could be a roadblock for some business who are not currently utilizing these providers for customer support.
Easy User Discovery
The first user experience boost in Business Chat comes in the form of findability. Once a business is configured appropriately, users will have one-touch access to a rich iMessage-based conversation with your team. The Messages button will start showing up in Safari, Spotlight, Maps, and Siri. This button can be configured for both websites and individual locations, allowing users who search for your company online or for your nearest store to have the same immediate accessibility.
At the surface level, this may feel like a simple “text us” sms:// replacement on your website. However, the availability of the chat buttons via Apple’s search results provides the user with a seamless support solution without them needing to scavenge through your entire website. It’s a huge win in the realm of usability and a sure way to keep customers happier.
Content Rich, Actionable Responses
Once your user has initiated a conversation, businesses will have the full feature set of iMessage available at their disposal, including extensions. This will allow businesses and app developers of any size to build powerful, custom responses that go far beyond any SMS-based support system currently on the market.
Users could attach photos to the conversation to ask for help finding a specific product or attach a video of an error or product failure instead of attempting to type out a description. On the business side, customer support responses can include images, videos, or even fully functioning forms that allow a user to select and customize a product or provide a payment utilizing the new built in Apple Pay in Messages. Responses may also include lists, links, and calendar events.
With all of these rich responses, Business Chat will be marrying SMS support and web support by providing the ease of human conversation and interaction alongside the convenience of online shopping. These massive user experience boosts will make buying (and selling) products easier than ever, and if web analytics have taught us anything over the years it’s that the easier it is to buy something the more likely a user is to complete the transaction.
Business Chat entry points can be customized to pass relevant information such as what product the user was looking at when they requested help or what type of support the user was researching. This allows messages to be intelligently routed to the most appropriate support team. A user identifier and location identifier can also be passed on to populate all relevant user information on the back end for your support team to provide the best response in record time or route the user to a nearby, local store for assistance in purchasing a hot item.
One thing worth noting: Business Chats must be initialized via the user, and, once the chat has been started, the user is in full control. A user can disable notifications and end the chat at any time by swiping the message to the left. If the user chooses to end the chat, communication will be closed and responses will not be delivered to the user. Instead of seeing this as a potential risk factor, we should use this knowledge to encourage better, smarter responses that solve users’ problems without spamming unnecessary information.
Looking forward, it’s not hard to see that Business Chat provides game-changing opportunities for businesses to interact with their users. You can register for the Business Chat’s sandbox today. This sandbox will allow you to start testing ideas and building solutions immediately via the use of whitelisted internal devices.
This offering from Apple has unlimited potential. This will create a competitive advantage around customer service across several industries by allowing businesses to personalize the customer experience right inside the Messages app their customers already know and love. It isn’t hard to imagine someone chatting with a box office to purchase tickets using a custom Messages extension to find the perfect seat. Or a customer completing a purchase (and payment) for the latest iPhone, fully customized with the perfect color, screen size, and storage, all within a simple message. Busy parents could order takeout using hands free typing and pay with the touch of a finger or get help from an experienced professional on that DIY job you’ve been meaning to complete at home. The list of ideas is endless.
Are you interested in being one of the first to leverage Business Chat with your team? Credera Mobile Solutions has extensive experience in the design and implementation of iOS apps and integrations. If you have questions or would like to discuss mobile solutions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.