Last year Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced its plans to make Business Chat available at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), and the company has now launched the service in beta for users in the US and Canada.
Business Chat on iMessage
Just like Facebook users are able to chat directly with businesses on Messenger, iMessage users will now be able to do something similar. For participating businesses, this type of engagement has resulted in being able to respond to the needs of their customers with direct access.
In 2017 alone, 330 million people connected with small businesses on Messenger for the first time. So Facebook has proven the viability of this type of direct communication between businesses and their customers. The question is how will Apple catch up to Facebook’s clear dominance in this segment.
The one thing Apple has going for it is tens of millions of iPhone owners in lucrative markets around the world, including in the US and Canada. Apple already has early business partners who are participating as part of this beta launch. Discover, Home Depot, Hilton, Lowe’s, Marriott and Wells Fargo are some of the companies Apple has announced.
Additionally, Facebook is restructuring Messenger as it deals with the privacy issues stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. On March 26, 2018, Facebook quietly announced it is pausing its app review process. For developers and businesses, this means they will not be able to launch new apps or chatbots on the Facebook ecosystem. If Apple is able to bring Business Chat out of beta ahead of schedule, the opportunity will be there to get more businesses to jump aboard.
Chat Directly With Businesses
A report by LiveChat found live chat features on company websites grew by 8.3 percent in 2017, and for small businesses, the growth was a 19 percent increase over the same period.
With iMessage, your customers can connect directly with your company and ask questions, schedule appointments, make purchases with Apple Pay and more, all using built-in features. And Business Chat doesn’t share the user’s contact information with businesses. Instead the tool gives users the ability to stop chatting at any time, a feature users will appreciate as privacy concerns continue to grow.
You can register for Apple’s Business Chat here.