In the first in a series of blogs about the business case for different messaging platforms we look at Apple's Business Chat, now out of beta, and wonder how long companies will have to wait before taking a bite of Apple’s latest UX-driven software.
Software launches don’t always get the attention they deserve. Not when they come courtesy of a company like Apple, famed by its sleek and enjoyable hardware. But for businesses like yours, software innovation offers greater opportunity; particularly where customer care is concerned.
We reported last August that Apple was launching a Business Chat app, and it’s now been the best part of a year since the announcement was made at its 2017 WWDC conference. So now it’s finally out of beta, why doesn’t this seem more groundbreaking?
A few reasons:
Facebook’s Messenger service has been connecting people to businesses and bots for a good year or so now. But then, just as the Cambridge Analytica breach happened, Business Chat came out of beta(!). The genius move, on this occasion, was its timing.
But is the app itself that innovative? What is truly unique about Business Chat? What are the standout features we will all (hopefully) be able to enjoy very soon - and how can you and your customers benefit?
The thing that might seem most mundane about Apple Business Chat – the fact it’s an extension of iMessage – is surely what will ensure its rapid uptake. And not just because it’s an interface people are already familiar with – though that is a plus. As with iMessage, we anticipate that Business Chat will be pre-installed on every new Apple device: iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches, in addition to iPhones. From a business perspective, when it is finally rolled out globally, uptake will most likely be high volume. At last count over 1 billion Apple devices were in use worldwide.
So, a big tick for accessibility and user-friendliness. Now, how about security? The success of end-to-end encrypted apps like Signal have been a litmus test for this kind of functionality – so it is little surprise that Apple has rolled encryption into Business Chat. But what does this actually mean? For your customers, it means on-tap service from verified companies; without having to divulge personal data or social media info. No Facebook login required.
First and foremost, like iMessage, Business Chat is designed to be a person-to-person platform: not customer-to-business. Beta testing has seen two different use cases emerge – customer service and conversational commerce. In both cases, personalized support appears to be one of its main calling cards. The user just opens the app, which pulls through personal info from their Apple-ID, and they can start chatting with a real employee: in real time.
However what is really great is that the user experience shifts between devices; meaning a query that begins on a Mac can continue on the user’s iPhone; making it easier for your brand to build more immediate customer relationships, while deploying all of the expected features – notifications, picture messaging, and even payment.
Apple Pay truly comes into its own with Business Chat. The same flawless interface casually slips into a transaction-based conversation; allowing users to seamlessly purchase from preferred vendors, safe in the knowledge that encryption protocols will keep their details from prying eyes that may infiltrate other platforms.
The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. But given the features Apple has –ahem– taken their sweet time to get right, if the iOS 11 app is good enough for Business Chat partners like Salesforce, Nuance, and LivePerson; and brands like KLM, T-Mobile, Wells Fargo, and Home Depot are on board; it is going to get some major traction.
And that is exactly why we will soon be implementing it into our own platform here at Mesaic - as soon as German companies will receive official access through a public API.
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Next time we will be taking a look at Google’s efforts in the chat space. And don’t forget Apple’s WWDC 2018 even is coming soon - June 4-8. Perhaps they will unveil more plans for Apple Business Chat…?