Apple Business Chat – The Ultimate Guide for Businesses

 

1. What is Apple Business Chat?

Business Chat is a service from Apple that allows your organization to directly chat with your customers using the Messages app. Customers can use this service to resolve issues, schedule appointments, place orders, or make payments with Apple Pay.

Customers can initiate a conversation by clicking the message button available on your website, app, emails, or other touchpoints like Siri, Search, and Apple Maps. 

(It’s important to note at this point that only Apple devices running iOS 11.3 or later and macOS 10.13.4 or later will support Business Chat.)

Here is the table of content that will help you easily navigate through this blog.

 

2. Why should your business care about Apple Business Chat? 

Apple Business Chat is a swiss army knife for businesses that want to provide great customer service through messaging, irrespective of the company size. 

When it comes to Apple Business Chat, it can help people find your store near their location, book appointments/ tickets, help you create a full-fledged e-commerce store, and even provide 24×7 customer support using bots. 

Whether your company is in finance, IT, e-commerce, hospitality, or healthcare, Apple Business Chat can open an effortless communication channel between your business and customers, and deliver a great customer experience. Let’s take a look at why you should seize this opportunity today.

✔ Huge user base – With 1.5B active devices1 where ~80% of the devices are running the latest iOS 13, the opportunity for businesses to reach customers on their most preferred messaging platform is enormous.

85% of customers2 prefer receiving text messages over a call and 61% of customers3 don’t even want to migrate to a new messaging platform just to communicate with a business. That means customers are looking for a native messaging app, which they can use to contact a business. And Apple Business Chat does exactly that. As the Messages app is natively available on Apple devices, with Business Chat, supporting your customer can improve your CSAT score and reduce the first response time.

Offers multiple touchpoints to initiate a conversation – Because of Apple’s unified ecosystem, the Business Chat can be initiated from Maps, Safari, Search, your website or app, and from any Apple device. This reduces the friction in your customer service and makes it extremely easy for your customers to initiate a conversation with your business from anywhere within the Apple ecosystem.

Unified buying experience and frictionless checkout– While built-in features like visual lists, rich links, and scheduling templates make the buying experience convenient for customers, integrations with other Apple apps boost its capabilities even further. For instance, Apple Pay enables customers to quickly and securely provide their payment, shipping, and contact information to check out with just one touch or glance. And as a result, the cart abandonment rate can be reduced considerably.

 

 

✔ Bots integration – To handle first-level queries and even automate product selection and checkout process, Business Chat supports bots. With bots, you can also automate services like checking order status, order cancellation, scheduling appointments, or checking account balances. As a result, these services can be made available to your customers 24×7.

Get an edge over your competition – 98% of smartphone users use text on a regular basis, but only 14% of companies text with consumers. And as of today, only 43 companies are leveraging ABC to communicate with their customer. As there is a huge gap between customer expectations and customer service delivered, there’s a tremendous opportunity for your business to leverage this and businesses that have already hopped on to this bandwagon are already reaping the benefits.

Take a look at how a leading US Financial Services company has been extending their customer service over Apple Business chat and as a result has achieved a CSAT score of 4.9/5, while also saving 10,000 hours using AI chatbots. Read the case study.

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3. How does Business Chat work?

Business Chat is a service that allows your organization to communicate directly with your customers through your Messaging Service Provider (MSP) using the Messages app.

To understand this better, let’s break down the illustration below
Step 1 – A customer uses their Messages app to communicate with a company.
Step 2 –That message is routed via Apple’s Business Chat service (service used by Apple Business Chat) to a company Messaging Service Provider
Step 3 – The MSP (such as Freshchat) aggregates all the messages and allows your agents to respond directly from their consoles to customer messages

How does Apple Business Chat works

An MSP is mandatory to connect your business to the Apple Business Chat service. It helps streamline customer conversations into a single view so agents avoid missing chats, avoid picking up tickets that another agent is working on, and performance can be easily monitored on an individual and team basis. 

As one of the few Apple-approved MSPs, Freshchat is one of only a few players in the market that enables your agents to respond to messages received from the Messages app (via Business Chat), Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Line Messenger.

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4. How safe is Business Chat?

Apple is known for its privacy policies and Business Chat is no different. In Business Chat, only a customer can initiate a conversation, and once the conversation thread is deleted, businesses can’t contact the customer unless the customer re-initiates the conversation.

Also, when a customer does reach out, companies can’t automatically see their personal information such as their name or phone number, unless the person chooses to share it. 

 

5. How can a customer contact your business?

Customers can initiate a conversation with your company using the Business Chat button. Apart from your website and app, you can also add the Business Chat button to the system features like Maps and Spotlight, so that customers can use them to locate your business and start a conversation.

Business Chat button on Spotlight

Another way you can help your customer contact you is by adding the Business Chat URL in your emails and enabling Chat Suggest on your Business Chat account. Let’s have a look at each of these in detail.

1. App or website – Adding the Business Chat button within a banner or inside your app is the best way you can help the majority of your customers, as most of your customers will be visiting your website/app. While adding the Business Chat button to your app/ website, make sure you design banners that match your company’s logo colors and font.

Another important element is the CTA(Call to Action) for the banner. The CTA  should have clear context on what customers can expect when they contact your company.

Apple Business Chat CTA banners

Source – Apple

2. Email – You can help your customers initiate a conversation from within an email by hyperlinking a banner or text. When a customer clicks on the URL, the system will redirect the customer to the Messages app so they can send your business a text message.

Apple Business Chat URL in email - example

Here’s an example of what the URL might look like for a bank customer with a question for the credit card department. The link will work only if you are running iOS 11.3 and higher or macOS 10.13.4 and higher.

https://bcrw.apple.com/urn:biz:9c231233-d943-482a-b913-7c625ba19988?biz-intent-id=account_question&biz-group-id=credit_card_department&body=Order%20additional%20credit%20card

 

3. Enable Chat Suggest on your Business Chat account – Chat Suggest allows your customers to choose how to contact your business through Apple Business Chat in the Messages app. The Chat Suggest feature adds the Messages option to the phone pop-up when somebody clicks on your registered business phone numbers. If this feature is disabled, then the person will see only your phone number.

Here is a screenshot comparing the two scenarios. On the left-hand side, Chat Suggest is disabled and on the right, it’s enabled.

Comparing scenarios with and without Chat suggest feature

Source – Apple

Chat suggests help reduce the number of queries coming on the IVR and reduce voice support cost by shifting call volumes to messaging. This will help your agents handle multiple queries at the same time and reduce workload using the automation tools provided by an MSP like Freshchat.

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5. Apple Business Chat Features

Apple Pay – When a business asks for payment from a customer who is purchasing goods and services through Business Chat, the customer can use Apple Pay to make the payment. A payment request looks like a normal chat bubble but displays the Apple Pay payment sheet when selected by the customer. After the customer authorizes payment, the payment request chat bubble updates to reflect that payment is complete.

Apple Pay feature

To start using Apple Pay with your customers, the Messaging Service Provider (MSP) needs to set up the service on their platform, and the business needs to set up and configure their merchant account with ID and certificates.

Pro-Tip
1. Collect necessary information before checkout – On the payment sheet, the customer can choose a card, shipping or pickup address, and billing address. However, there’s no way to input additional data, so collect information like product options or promo codes ahead of time.

2. Send an order confirmation message after checkout – Thank the customer for the purchase and share important information like the order number and, if applicable, anticipated shipping time frame.

3. Support order tracking – Let the customer check the status of an order by sending a message, such as “When will my order arrive?”.

 

List pickers – A list picker prompts the customer to select one or more items, such as products or locations. Items can include text and images, and can also be organized into sections. For example, when presenting product options, your list picker could include a color choice section and a size choice section.

Apple Business chat feature - List picker

Pro tips:
1. Keep section and item text clear and concise – To avoid text truncation, be mindful of different device screen sizes and keep the text as short as possible, while still retaining clarity.

2. Use high-resolution images at the correct scale – If your list picker includes images, provide those images at a size of 180px × 180px (60pt × 60pt @3x). All images should be provided at @3x resolution.

3. Strive for a manageable list size – When you present lots of options at once, you run the risk of overwhelming the customer. Provide digestible lists that encourage quick choices with minimal scrolling.

 

Rich links – A rich link is a URL provided through an image or video that you display in a chat bubble. When people tap the image or video, it opens the link on your website, where you can display information about the item or play the video. Rich links help customers verify that they’ve selected the right item before they purchase it. Because you display a rich link within the Messages app, people can tap the link to visit your website and easily return to the conversation.

Apple business chat feature - rich links

Pro tips:
1. Keep the experience focused on the product – Avoid overloading people with too many different images or videos.

2. Use descriptive, approachable language to title a rich link – The title should provide context for the image or video displayed above it. Avoid using your company name or URL to title a rich link because this information doesn’t help customers understand why they might want to tap it. Display your website URL below the title so people know where the link will take them.

3. Always include a video thumbnail or image – If you don’t supply a thumbnail for a rich link, customers won’t see a preview of the content and might even interpret the message as an unwanted communication from your company. Similarly, displaying a plain link without an image doesn’t provide context or encourage customers to open it.

Time picker – A time picker prompts the customer to choose an available time slot, such as to schedule a meeting or appointment. The time picker view also shows calendar conflicts so that customers can make an informed decision.

After picking a time, customers can revisit their choice in the conversation view to add the event to the Calendar. When the event includes information like an address, directions, or contact details, customers can view this information in Calendar and get a Maps notification that helps them know when to leave for the appointment.

Apple business chat feature - time picker

Pro tips:
1. Provide location details when relevant –  If you return location details when the customer chooses a time slot, the customer can revisit their choice in the conversation to get directions to the location.

2. With the customer’s permission, send reminders for upcoming appointments –  Ask for permission before enrolling the customer in push notifications and provide an easy way for them to opt-out.

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6. How to register for Business Chat?

You can apply for Apple Business Chat by visiting register.apple.com. Here you have to log in with your Apple ID and if you don’t have one, you can create one in just a few minutes. Once you’re done filling in all the required information about your business, you will need to select an MSP (Messaging Service Provider). 

Note that selecting an MSP while applying for Apple Business Chat is mandatory as you can’t avail Business Chat services without it. Even while registering for Business Chat you have to check the box in the ‘Business Chat Policies’ section confirming that you are using Apple’s approved messaging service provider.

Apple Business chat - Policy

As a final step, you have to submit your application to Apple. While your account is under approval, you can check the integration with your MSP using the test account. And once your Business Chat account is approved, you can integrate it with your MSP.

If you are wondering what an MSP is, how it works, how to apply for the Business Chat account, and how to integrate it with your MSP – don’t worry. We have created a step-by-step guide that will help you answer all these questions, and more. Click the banner below to view the guide.

How to register for Apple Business chat - banner

7. How much does the Apple Business Chat cost?

Companies can associate only one brand or product with one Apple Business account so if you want to add Business Chat for multiple brands, you will have to create a separate account for individual brands and get them approved by Apple.

So, the cost of the Business Chat depends on the scope of your business and the pricing of your MSP. Freshchat is an Apple-approved MSP and Business Chat integration is available on the Estate and Forest plans. See our pricing.

You can give Freshchat a try by signing up for a 21 days free trial (No credit card required). You will get access to the Estate plan along with ‘Acquisition & Engagement add-ons’ using which you can test your Apple Business account (commercial/ test account) with Freshchat.

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Published on Feb 25, 2021
Sources:
1. https://9to5mac.com/2020/01/28/apple-hits-1-5-billion-active-devices-with-80-of-recent-iphones-and-ipads-running-ios-13/
2. https://www.slicktext.com/blog/2018/11/44-mind-blowing-sms-marketing-and-texting-statistics/
3. https://snapdesk.app/text-messaging-statistics-facts-stats-insights/
4. https://developer.apple.com/