Apple concluded WWDC 2017 earlier this week by announcing new Business Chat feature for iMessage. As the name indicates, Business Chat will let businesses use iMessage to communicate with users. Apple has partnered with LivePerson, Nuance, and Salesforce to bring Business Chat to iMessage, and it is using the Customer Service Platform from Genesys to achieve this.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is also reportedly working on such a feature, with the platform for businesses scheduled to launch later this year.
A user can initiate a conversation with a business on iMessage by tapping the message icon that will appear in iOS 11 beside their name in a Spotlight search. Other ways to initiate a chat include triggering Siri, Maps, or scanning a QR code. In all the scenarios, businesses will be passed some relevant information about a user like their location and their first language preference.
Businesses can then communicate with the customer and fulfil all their needs like schedule appointments, provide information on new products and services, and more. They will be able to share documents, photos, and other items over iMessage with the user as well. Apple is also allowing businesses to build their own iMessage apps and demonstrated it with a seat picker app for an airline business right inside iMessage. Another example shown by Apple during the demo was how a user could schedule an appointment using the inbuilt Calendar app of iMessage.
Unlike Facebook which has relied on bots to ensure businesses are able to talk to customers through its Messenger platform, Apple’s approach will ensure that a customer is directly connected to a customer support representative for a better experience.