If you’re not using Apple Business Chat for your business, you’re missing out on huge growth opportunities.
iPhone sales in the United States touched 193 million units in March 2019, signaling that the popularity of Apple devices continues to grow on a steady path. While Apple users already use the iMessage app extensively to communicate with their friends and families every day, this steady engagement also signals a new opportunity of customer engagement worldwide. The iMessage app, also known as the Messages app, is quickly becoming one of the hottest touchpoints for businesses to engage with customers.
Customers are systematically boycotting phone calls and emails as a channel to engage with business because they love texting and chat. Aware of this monumental opportunity, it’s prudent of Apple to stake its claim in the messaging space. After all, messaging is at the center of the rivalry between Facebook and Apple. Both tech giants are aware of the chat-driven pivot happening in the realm of customer engagement and they are both vying to be the favorite platform for businesses.
Apple Business Chat has joined the fray as the most direct engagement channel that offers “an interactive, personal way to connect with customers while respecting their privacy.”
What is Apple Business Chat?
Apple Business Chat (ABC) is a new way for your business to engage with customers directly from within iMessage—Apple’s built-in IM service. It’s an instant messaging (IM), SMS, chat, and file sharing app—all rolled into one. Apple Business Chat enables your business to answer customer questions, help them schedule appointments, and manage payments via Apple Pay. It allows Apple users to find your business and start conversations from Safari, Maps, Search, and Siri.
Apple Business Chat uses the Messages app to offer personalized chat on the go. A user might start a conversation with your customer service team on iPhone while riding on the subway and they can resume the chat on their Mac, iPad, or even Apple Watch once they reach their workstation. Apple Business Chat notifies them when your support team responds to their queries so they can get instant updates on the status of their requests. Apple Business Chat also supports rich-media conversations such as sending and receiving images, emojis, GIFs, or attachments—adding a visual dimension to the customer experience.
Perhaps the best feature that Apple Business Chat offers to your business is the capability to build your own interactive components in live chat. For instance, you can manage Apple Pay or add structured content templates like list picker (e.g., product items) and time pickers (e.g., appointment slots) which users can click to select—right within the Messages app.
The messaging platform also integrates with a number of leading customer service platforms (CSPs) including Freshchat. These integrations make it easy for you to improve the quality of your customer support instead of making big changes to your existing support operations. Apple Business Chat makes it easier for your business to offer efficient support through a familiar, secure, and easy-to-use design interface.
To summarize, Apple Business Chat empowers your business to:
- offer personalized, cross-channel user experiences
- offer a variety of services via a virtual assistant
- make your products easy for customers to book or order
- accept payments directly via Apple Pay within Messages
- integrate with your existing customer service platform
Get started with Apple Business Chat
Unlike other business platforms, getting access to use Apple Business Chat for your business is not easy. To begin with, you have to first make sure your business qualifies for registration. Apple requires your business:
- uses asynchronous messaging platform staffed by live agents during business hours.
- uses an Apple-authorized CSP account, such as Freshchat, for your live chat team.
The registration process for Business Chat requires you to locate your business on Apple Maps, which can make you discoverable to a vast population of iPhone users. This will, by default, result in you in being discoverable in Siri. To register:
- create an Apple ID for your organization and team members
- apply for a Business Chat account with Apple Business Register
- fill the form with all the important information
- choose your current CSP
- submit for review
Once Apple approves your application, you can start using Apple Business Chat for your business. Keep in mind that you can’t start a conversation with customers; you can only respond to customer queries. Customers can look up your business online, and tap the Business Chat icon to initiate the conversation. However, they would need an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to start a Business Chat conversation through Maps, Safari, Siri, and Search.
The business case for Apple Business Chat
Businesses that have adopted Apple Business Chat are redefining their customer support by being available to customers across all Apple devices.
Take San Francisco-based SnapTravel for example. The company recently started using Apple Business chat to make it easy for their customers to talk to them through Apple devices. SnapTravel customers can go to their website and provide the details about their travel plans. Once they tap the “Chat with Messages” button, they can start a chat with SnapTravel. Customers can then shop for deals on hotel booking and use Apple Pay to book rooms. Customers also have the option type ‘agent’ or ‘help’ to talk directly to a live chat agent.
Source: SnapTravel blog
Another American business that has leveraged Apple Business Chat for its customer engagement is T-Mobile. The telecom company has made it easy for customers with iPhone, Mac, iPad, or Apple Watch to begin a chat on their iMessage app to change their rate plan, buy a new phone, pay their bills, check their balance, or send screenshots to resolve an issue.
Source: T-Mobile blog
Apple Business Chat is a good bet for businesses because iOS devices have a 52.91% market share in the U.S. compared to Android’s 42%. Apple devices are also more popular with the young, urban, and spendthrift crowd of Americans that communicates primarily through messaging channels. It’s an impetus on American businesses to adopt Apple Business Chat as a channel to engage with this demography of high-value customers.
Your business can open its door to engage with a billion Apple users via Messages app. But that raises another question—will your business be able to handle the thousands of questions that will flood in when you adopt yet another channel of customer engagement? Is there an easier method of handling high volume customer requests while still not bloating the size of your support team or breaking the bank on numerous tools?
Add a zing to your Apple conversations with Freshchat
Freshchat is one of the few messaging apps that integrates with Apple Business Chat. When you use Freshchat as your CSP for Apple Business Chat, here are a few benefits that you will sign-up for:
- Respond to all conversations from iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger from a single window.
- Automate chats to the right team/individual to evenly distribute the workload.
- Bring context from your CRM/order management system that Freshchat integrates with.
- Get granular, customized reports to measure messaging-related performance.
- Use chatbots to interact with customers before they talk to a human agent.
One of Freshchat’s customers, a leading financial services company, for example, has applied this integration to improve customer experience. They have built a chatbot as a layer on top of Freshchat so that every time a customer messages the company through their Messages app, the chatbot interacts with the customer before it hands over the conversation to Discover’s chat agent handling conversations from the Freshchat dashboard.
As a provider of financial services, one of their sales use cases on Messages app is to offer a list of cards to the customers interacting with its chatbot. Once users choose a card, they can make credit card payments using Apple Pay from within the Messages app.
There’s a lot more you can do when you combine the power of Apple Business Chat with Freshchat. There are millions of people that use Messages app every day; your business can directly interact with these customers and influence their purchasing decisions when you leverage the power of Apple Business Chat for your business. Get in touch with our Apple Business Chat expert to learn more on how can grow your business footprint among Apple consumers.
(Blog illustration by Mohanraj Nainan Selvam)