Apple expands Business Chat with new businesses and additional countries

Apple Business Chat was launched earlier this year as a way for consumers to communicate directly with businesses on Apple's messaging platform. Today, the company announced that it was expanding the program to add new business and support for other countries.

When launched in January, business partners included Discover, Hilton, Lowe & # 39; s and Wells Fargo. Today's announcement includes people like Burberry, West Elm, Kimpton Hotels and Vodafone Germany.

The program, which remains in Beta, added 15 new companies today in the United States and 15 internationally, including in the United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Italy, Australia and France.

Since launch, companies have devised creative ways to interact directly with customers in a chat configuration that many users prefer to phone trees and static music on hold (I know, I do). ).

For example, Four Seasons, which launched Business Chat in July, is expanding usage to 88 properties worldwide with the ability to chat in more than 100 languages ​​with reported average response times of around 90 seconds.

Apple previously added features such as Apple Pay to iMessage to make it easier for consumers to directly transact with businesses in a fully digital manner. If, for example, your customer service representative helps you find the perfect item, you can buy it right now with Apple Pay in a fully digital payment system without having to provide a credit card in the chat interface.

Photo: Apple

In addition, the CSR could share a link, a photo or a video so you can see more information about the article you are interested in or help you solve a problem with an article you already have. All this can be done in iMessage, a tool that millions of iPhone and iPad owners feel comfortable using with friends and family.

To interact with Business Chat, customers receive messages as an option in the contact information. If they touch this option, the interaction opens in iMessage and customers can have a conversation with the brand CSR, as they would with their friends.

Touch Message to move to the iMessage conversation. Photo: Apple

This link to customer service and sales through a chat interface also fits well with the partnership with Salesforce announced last week. Bret Taylor, president and product manager of Salesforce, described how Apple Business Chat could be integrated with Salesforce's Service Bot platform, which was introduced in 2017 to enable companies to create integrated human and automated response systems.

The bots could provide a first level of service and, if the customer needs more personal assistance, there could be an option to switch to Apple Business Chat.

Apple Business Chat requires iOS 11.3 or higher.