Apple to roll out Business Chat to take on Messaging Rivals


25 January 2018, India:

Apple is planning to roll out a new feature in iMessage – Business Chat. This feature will allow users to communicate directly with businesses right inside iMessage.

This feature was launched last year at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. The Business Chat will be integrated into the current iMessage app.

Apple said in a statement, “Business Chat is a new way for users to communicate directly with businesses right within Messages. This feature will launch in Beta with the public availability of iOS 11.3 this spring”.

Initially, selected companies will support this feature at launch. By using  iMessage app, Apple users will be able to chat directly with companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Apple will likely add more companies later.

The service will not share the user’s contact information with the businesses and users will be able to stop chatting with the business at any time they want. The feature will also allow users to make payments via Apple Pay, and schedule appointments depending on business’s needs.

Gihad Jawhar, VP of Digital at Lowe’s said, “Serving customers now requires us to be more connected than ever before. Our people, systems, processes and efforts must be connected — and they must be in line to create an omnichannel environment that is simple and seamless for everyone.”

Jawhar added, “We will drive customer engagement by delivering convenience, inspiration, expertise and efficiency across the most relevant moments of the customer’s project journey.”

According to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen, majority of a consumers said they would rather message a business than call customer service.

Facebook already offers similar through its Messenger app. Facebook said last year that 80 percent of its then 65 million active businesses were using Messenger to reach customers.

WhatApp has also entered into this space with the launch of WhatsApp Businesses. WhatsApp Businesses offers a tool for Small Business Enterprises (SME) to let them communicate to clients without any hassles and to grow their business.

People also use Google My Business and Twitter to chat with businesses. The entry of Apple in this space has made things interesting.

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