Nov 05, 2020

Apple Messages for Business Offers Massive Disruption Opportunity For CX

Nidhin Varghese
By Nidhin Varghese (NV)

Director, Digital Practice Lead

We are on the brink of the next technological disruption that will fundamentally transform the way people interact with businesses.

Booking a stay, ordering a ride, refilling our groceries, watching a film, or buying a product—any of these can be done instantaneously at our convenience, at the pace we choose and using the device we prefer. However, when it comes to customer service, we seem to be stuck with caveman technology—the eternal wait listening to sadistic hold music, or the dreaded disconnection while chatting with an agent only to get reconnected to a different agent and having to re-explain the whole issue.

Thanks to the fusion of conversational AI, asynchronous support technology, and the connected experience created by mobile devices, among other factors—the service paradigm is shifting. You can now elevate your customer experience by evolving from the ancient synchronous, definitive “start and stop” mode of communication to a mode that offers your customers guaranteed gratification: Business Messaging.

Learn more about the benefits of business messaging.

Apple Messages for Business

Apple has about 1.5B users worldwide and its cult like following forces firms to focus campaigns specifically on Apple users. That represents a major influence on consumer behaviors.

Apple Messages for Business, launched in June 2017, is a native component of the iOS operating system and is deeply linked to all the major Apple applications, which is one of this channel’s key differentiators. Apple “drinks its own champagne,” using Apple Messages for Business for its own customer service. As one of the world’s most profitable retailers, the company is referenced as a case study by many other retailers. Most of the beta testing was done inside the Apple Store App.

When Apple launched the new entry point “Message Suggest,” it was first enabled across 263 stores in the US, leading to a 60 percent volume shift from voice calls to messaging.

Apple Messages for Business is P2A (Person-To-Application) technology, and it is important to note that it is not a replacement for outbound messaging. That means the onus is on the customer to click a Messages for Business button or URL, which then launches the customer’s iMessage app; the very first message will always come from the customer.

Meeting Customers Where They Are

Apple provides a way for any business to add a Messages for Business button to its website. Companies that own an iOS app can add that same button inside their apps. The button can also be embedded in emails or on a company’s social media pages.

Apple Messages for Business

Brands can realize Apple Messages for Business' real potential when they enable it to be initiated before customers make their way to the brand assets through iOS entry points.

Apple Business Chat

Here are a few ways a consumer can initiate an interaction through Apple Messages for Business ...

  • Spotlight search: When a user searches for a business in Search or Safari, business cards show up. These display a business’ global contact detail, with a logo, phone number, email, website URL, and a Messages for Business button.
  • Place cards: If a user searches for a business in Maps, a company place card shows up, linked to a specific location. When a customer taps on a place card, it expands to show a business's location in Maps, along with the address, hours of operation, phone number, and a Message button. Here users can begin a conversation in the Messages app.
  • QR codes: These allow users to connect with a business by scanning a simple graphic. The real beauty of QR codes is they can be used to bring nondigital traffic into the digital world.
  • Message Suggest: This feature, introduced in iOS 13, enables a customer to contact the business through Apple Messages for Business just by tapping on a registered business’ phone number. It is not restricted only to search results: As long as the customer is on their iPhone and tapping that phone number from anywhere—be it the “contact us” page on the website, a phone button from their native app, or from social media—the customer is offered a “Message Suggest” button.
Apple Business Chat

Some of the other benefits to consider are:

  • Deflecting calls even before they hit the IVR
  • Guaranteeing a user can reach a brand, which is not always the case through a phone call
  • ZERO IT involvement by registering numbers directly with Apple

Tap vs. Type

One of the most difficult aspects of a chat is getting a user to choose an option from a long list, or to pick a date. For these use cases, Apple offers list pickers and time pickers.

The list picker prompts a 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. These pickers optimize an otherwise slow aspect of the conversation.

Apple Business Chat

A time picker prompts customers to choose an available time slot, such as when scheduling a meeting, and shows conflicts based on a users' Apple Calendar app. After picking a time, customers can revisit their choices within the conversation view to add the event to their calendar. When an event includes information such as an address, directions, or contact details, customers can view this information in the calendar app.

One really cool feature to note: If users allow push notifications, they can receive a Maps notification that, for example, alerts them when to leave for an appointment based on their current location and distance to the meeting location.

Apple Business Chat


Apple Pay on Apple Messages for Business

Using Apple Pay in Apple Messages for Business is extremely convenient. Many iOS users save credit card information in their devices; they simply select the card they would like to pay with. This means a customer service representative can help a shopper figure out a purchase and prompt them to pay right there in the conversation, which makes it less likely the shopper will forget to check out later.

To set up Apple Pay a company needs:

  • An account with a payment processor or gateway
  • An Apple Merchant ID
  • A Payment Processing Certificate
  • A Merchant Identity Certificate

This approach completely cuts out all middle parties. The business does not need to have Square, Stripe, PayPal, or any other payment processor. On this platform, online or retail merchants can engage in a conversation, guide the shopping experience, service the interaction, and get paid directly with no middle party taking a cut. 

It’s possible that Messages for Business will not only spell the end of retail POS and payment systems; it could also spell the end of the shopping carts and payment systems in online sales.

How It All Comes Together

All these features come together to transform the customer experience and break down siloed experiences. Just a few examples:

  • Online shopping experience: You start searching for a product in Safari and the results usually come down to a set of stores that offer the product. You shortlist what you like, but you have questions. Today, you would have to call the store and either place that order over the phone or return to the online ordering system. But with Messages for Business, you can directly interact with the brand, see the product recommendations through a list picker, and place an order and pay, all inside one message thread.
  • Scheduling an appointment: Typically, appointment setup is a complex process of matching time availability; it can take a long time over phone. Using Messages for Business, a business (repair technician, health care provider, hair stylist, etc.) can push an interactive schedule tailored to your needs and link it your iOS calendar to find a time that works. You can also use Apple Messages for Business to pay for the service.

From customer acquisition through customer service, advanced technical troubleshooting, banking and insurance, and delivering a personal concierge experience in the hospitality or travel industry—the opportunities for using Messages for Business are limitless. It allows businesses to offer a “high touch” customer experience that has not been possible before. Soon, not having Apple Messages for Business will prove to be a competitive disadvantage that no business will want to claim.

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