How to apply for Apple Business Chat and integrate it with Freshchat

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.

These conversations can be initiated only by customers, and they can do this by clicking the message button available on your website, app, emails, or other touchpoints like Siri, Search, and Apple Maps. One of the many reasons that Apple Business Chat feels like a secure channel of communication is that when customers do reach out, the company can’t automatically see their personal information, such as their name or phone number unless the person chooses to share it for appointments or deliveries.

(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.)

Digit using Apple Business Chat

 

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 the Apple Business Chat service (service used by Apple Business Chat) to a company’s Messaging Service Provider (such as Freshchat, which aggregates all the messages and allow your agents to respond from their consoles to customer messages)

How Business Chat work

As you can see from the above image an MSP is mandatory to connect your business to the Business Chat service. An MSP 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.

Messaging channels supported by Freshchat

As a business, where do I start?

In order to begin communicating with your customers via Business Chat, there is an application process you have to go through, which we get into in the next section. However, before you start with Business Chat, make sure you have the following two things in place, so that you don’t have to come back when you are in the middle of the registration process.

1. Assign Roles to Your Team Members: Before you begin your organization registration, assign the roles below to team members. It is recommended that you have more than one team member for each role. Each assigned team member must have an Apple ID that uses your organization’s email.

  • Administrative contact: An employee that an Apple Business Register representative can contact for technical issues. It is recommended to have two administrative contacts for redundancy.
  • Technical contact: An employee whom an Apple Business Register representative can contact for technical issues.
  • Sponsoring executive: A senior member of your team responsible for overseeing your Business Chat project to agree to the Terms of Use (TOU).

 

2. Select an MSP (Messaging Service Provider) – While registering for Business Chat, you have to provide the details of the MSP you are working with. Apple has a list of criteria that an MSP has to meet in order to integrate with ABC, and you should keep this in mind while selecting an MSP. Some of the criteria include,

  • You should use one of Apple’s approved messaging service providers like Freshchat.
  • Make sure your MSP supports human agent hand over because it’s mandatory¹ to have the human escalation option to use the Business Chat. Therefore, if you are trying to deploy using only virtual agents with no agent hand-off, Apple won’t approve your profile.
  • Select an MSP that supports bots integration. Apple suggests using a blend of bots and human agents while using Business chat. Also, bots/ virtual agents can access Business Chat only through your MSP. So if your MSP doesn’t provide bots integration you won’t be able to use it.

Freshchat is the official MSP of Business Chat and is powered by Freddy AI bots which lets you have seamless bot integration with Business Chat. It has the automatic agent hand-off feature, supports agent side automation, and supports all the Apple Business chat rich features like list pickers, time pickers, apple pay, rich links, and much more through its smart plugs.

 

4. How to apply for Apple Business Chat?

Step 1: Sign in with your Apple ID
1. Visit register.apple.com and click on ‘Sign In’. Enter your Apple ID and password to log in. If you don’t have one, click on “Create yours now” and follow the on-screen instructions.

register for Apple business chat

2. Once you sign in, add the ‘Messages’ service to your account. To do that click on ‘Manage Service’ > click on ‘Add Service’ for ‘Business Account for Messages’. If you have created a new Apple ID, you will get the option to select a service while creating the ID

Add Messages service while registering for Apple Business Chat

 

Step 2: Add a new Business Chat account.
1. Click on Business Chat account > Click on ‘Add New’ > Click ‘Get Started’ > Read and check all the Business Chat policies boxes.

Add new Apple business Chat account

2. Fill in all the details in the ‘Account Applicant’ form and then select the commercial account.

Add commercial account for business chat

Commercial account – This is your Apple Business account using which you’ll communicate with the users on the Messages app. Once submitted this account will be reviewed by Apple and can take one week for approval.

Internal test account – This is a private test account used for testing the integrations, bot and message flows with your MSP for your commercial account before you go live. This account takes a few minutes to get approval. Also, while setting up this account you’ll be required to add tester Apple IDs (whitelisted testers) using which you can test the functionality of your commercial Business Chat account.

In this article, we will take you through the steps to create a commercial account but if you want to set up a test account before going live, then do check out this support article. Also to learn how you can use Apple Business Chat for sales and support, check out this blog.

 

Step 3: Setup commercial account
1. Once you select the commercial account, add the ‘technical contact’. A technical contact is an employee of your organization whom an Apple Business Register representative can contact for technical issues. You can also add details of a ‘Sponsoring Executive’ who will be responsible for overseeing your Business Chat project to agree to the Terms of Use (TOU).

Add technical contact info

 

2. Select the number of locations where your business’s office is present. In case you are an online business with no physical presence, select ‘An online business with no public locations’.

Numner of Business location - Apple Business chat

 

Step 4: Add brand information
The next few steps will ask for information about your brand information like brand name, business hours time, and logos.

1. Choose the brand you want to associate this Business Chat account with. Note that you can only have one brand per Business Chat account. If your organization has multiple brands, then you have to create a separate Business Chat account for each brand.

Add brand information

 

2. Fill in the brand information like brand name, response time, and website. On the next page set up the live agent response time and hit next.

Add agent response time

 

3. Now you have to select the brand logo that will typically appear in the message list when somebody opens the Messages app. Then select your brand color that will appear as a background for the chat header and will also apply to the button.

Add brand logos and brand colors

 

Logo tip:
The maximum file size allowed for the logo is 2MB and the minimum dimension allowed is 1024px x 1024px. It is advised to have a padding of 10% around your brand logo.

Logo guideline for Apple business chat

 

Step 5: Select your commercial messaging platform and submit it for review.
1. Select Freshchat as the Apple authorized commercial messaging platform from the drop-down list.

Select a commercial messaging platform

 

2. Now the final step is to submit your profile for review. But before that, go through all the details you have filled in about your business, check the preview of your brand logo and colors. Once you feel that all the information is good to go, hit the ‘Send for review’ button and your account will be reviewed in a week.

Check details and send for review

 

5. How to integrate Apple Business Chat with Freshchat

First, sign up for Freshchat. Apple Business Chat Integration is available with the Estate and Forest plan. With a 21 day free trial, you get access to the Estate plan which you can use to check your Business Chat account’s integration with Freshchat.

1. Once your account is approved by Apple, click on Business Chat Account and select your business account name.

Click on the approved business account

2. Copy the text after ‘msgid’ in your URL, as you will need it while connecting your Business Account with Freshchat. Now click on ‘Connect to Freshchat’.

Copy the id and connect to Freshchat

 

3. Once you click on ‘Connect’, you’ll be redirected to Freshchat’s Apple Business Chat integration page, provided you are already signed into Freshchat. Otherwise, you have to log in to Freshchat first.

Connect Business chat to Freshchat

4. Here, paste the ID we copied in step 3, give a name to your message channel for the Apple Business Chat conversations, select the ‘Group’ to which you want to assign the conversations, and click Connect.

Freshchat - Apple business chat integration completed

Once the integration is completed, you can start reaching out to your customers, using Freshchat – Apple Business Chat integration.

 

 

Resources
1. https://register.apple.com/resources/business-chat/faq/business-chat-faqs.html