In the fast-paced world of technology, staying connected with customers is paramount for businesses. To cater to this need, Apple introduced a groundbreaking platform known as Apple Business Chat (ABC). Launched in 2018 as part of the iOS 11.3 release, Apple Business Chat offers a novel way for businesses to interact with their customers through the Messages app on iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iPadOS. This feature-rich platform allows businesses to provide customer support, share links, schedule appointments, and even process payments through Apple Pay, all within the confines of a chat conversation.
While ABC presents exciting opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers, it is essential to understand how it works and how it can be integrated into your company’s customer service strategy.
Apple Business Chat: A Brief Overview
Apple Business Chat enables users to initiate conversations with participating businesses directly from various Apple applications such as Apple Maps, Safari, Siri, and Spotlight Search. A business can also guide customers to initiate conversations with them in Messages through their website, app, or email. Messages exchanged within the ABC platform have a distinct grey background to differentiate them from standard iMessages (blue) and regular SMS messages (green).
Apple Business Chat on iPhone
One of the most significant advantages of ABC is its compatibility with Apple Pay. This integration allows businesses to facilitate seamless transactions, providing a highly convenient and user-friendly experience for customers. The ability to complete transactions within the chat significantly reduces the chances of customers abandoning their purchases.
Apple Pay, a renowned digital wallet service, is deeply integrated into the Apple ecosystem, allowing users to store their credit card information securely on their devices. When a company initiates a payment request within a conversation, it appears as a standard chat bubble but includes an Apple Pay logo. Users can tap on this message to complete their payment, right within the chat.
To set up Apple Pay within the ABC platform, a business needs to have several essential components in place, including an account with a payment processor or gateway, an Apple Merchant ID, a Payment Processing Certificate, and a Merchant Identity Certificate. Detailed information on this setup can be found in Apple’s official documentation.
The Apple Business Chat Audience
Apple Business Chat, though a powerful tool for customer engagement, is limited to Apple users, as it is exclusively available on iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iPadOS devices. While this may seem restrictive, it’s important to consider that iOS users typically possess higher average incomes, spend more on apps, and exhibit more brand loyalty compared to their Android counterparts.
Morgan Stanley reported in 2018 that 92% of iPhone owners were “somewhat or extremely likely” to upgrade their iOS devices and stick with the Apple brand. This loyalty factor makes iOS users a valuable customer base, one that businesses can leverage for long-term success.
Moreover, once iOS users initiate a chat through ABC, they tend to be more committed and engaged compared to Android users. Therefore, while ABC’s audience is limited, it provides a consistent and dedicated customer base for businesses.
Initiating Conversations with Apple Business Chat
One fundamental rule to remember with ABC is that only users can start a chat. Businesses cannot send the first message. This ensures that interactions are initiated by the customer, maintaining a customer-centric approach. Additionally, users have the freedom to end a conversation at any time by deleting the chat or opting to stop receiving further messages. Once a user ends a conversation, the business can no longer send messages through ABC.
Apple Pay on Apple Business Chat
Apple Business Chat has evolved since its initial North American launch and is now available internationally. Customers can start a Business Chat in various ways, such as searching for a business in Maps, Search, Siri, and Safari. These conversations take place within the Messages app on Apple devices, requiring iOS 11.3 or later and macOS 10.13.4 or later.
Differentiating Business and Place Cards
In the ABC ecosystem, there are two types of cards that customers can use to initiate conversations: Business Cards and Place Cards.
Business Cards: These cards are not linked to a specific location and appear when a user searches for a business in Search or Safari. Business Cards provide comprehensive global contact information for a business, including its logo, phone number, email address, website URL, and a Business Chat button. When a user taps the Business Chat button, they can start a conversation within the Messages app. Once the chat has commenced, users can click on the header of the conversation to view the business’s detailed information in a full-page format.
Apple Business Chat Business Cards
Place Cards: Place Cards are associated with a specific location and appear when a user searches for a business in Maps. They provide the company’s name and address. When users tap on a Place Card, it expands to show the business’s location in Maps, along with additional details such as hours of operation, phone number, and a Business Chat Message button. Again, users can seamlessly initiate a conversation within the Messages app through this button.
Apple Business Chat Place Cards
How to Find Business and Place Cards
Customers can locate Business and Place Cards through Apple Maps, Search, Siri, and Safari. Finding these cards can vary depending on the application used:
Apple Maps: When using Apple Maps, customers can simply select a business listing and tap on it to access a full profile with directions, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, and essential company information. Notably, not all businesses in Maps may have the Apple Business Chat Message button available.
Apple Business Chat on Apple Maps
Search: Searching for businesses via iOS Search may yield mixed results, especially if you are outside of the United States. While some businesses may not have the Chat Message button available in search results, it’s possible to access the chat if you’ve already initiated a conversation with the company.
Using iOS Search To Find A Company – Before & After Chatting
Siri: Using Siri can also yield mixed results when trying to initiate an ABC chat. It’s essential to use different phrasing and approaches, but even then, the Chat Message button may not always appear. In some cases, Siri may provide a link to Apple Maps for further assistance.
Apple Business Chat with Siri
Safari: Searching for businesses in Safari can also produce inconsistent results when looking for the Business Chat Message bubble icon. While this feature may not be readily available for all businesses, for some, like Apple and The Home Depot, users can tap the Business Chat Message button directly from Safari without needing to navigate further.
Apple Business Chat on Safari
Encourage Engagement on Your Website
While Business and Place Cards offer a great way for customers to initiate conversations, they may not always be aware of this feature. To ensure a seamless experience for users browsing your website, consider adding prompts and links that allow them to start conversations through Apple Business Chat.
By integrating Apple Business Chat into your customer service strategy, you can tap into the vast pool of loyal iOS users, providing them with a convenient, efficient, and user-friendly channel for interaction. Furthermore, with the integration of Apple Pay, you can streamline the purchase process and reduce cart abandonment, ultimately enhancing the customer experience. As this platform continues to grow and expand internationally, it’s an exciting avenue for businesses looking to stay connected with their Apple-using customer base.
Adding a Chat Button to Your Website: Enhancing Customer Engagement with Apple Business Chat
In today’s digitally-driven business landscape, connecting with customers in real-time is paramount. Apple Business Chat offers a seamless solution for businesses to integrate a message button directly onto their website, app, or email, facilitating instant communication with customers. This powerful feature not only streamlines interactions but also provides a range of user-friendly elements within the chat interface, enhancing the overall customer experience.
Integrating Apple Business Chat Message Button
The Apple Business Chat Message button serves as a direct gateway for customers to initiate conversations with businesses. This button can be strategically placed on websites, within apps, or even appended to email communications. It also allows for customization, enabling businesses to include a personalized message above or below the Message Bubble icon. By seamlessly integrating this button, businesses unlock a direct line of communication with their customer base.
Streamlined User Interface (UI)
In addition to its intuitive messaging capabilities, Apple Business Chat boasts several UI features designed to enhance the customer experience. One noteworthy feature is the ability to send app download links directly within the chat. What sets this apart is that users can install the app on their devices without navigating to an app store, streamlining the process and encouraging app adoption.
Apple Business Chat iMessage App Features
Furthermore, the Chat UI includes card templates, as exemplified by The Home Depot. These cards enable customers to view detailed product information and even provide in-store maps for locating products within physical stores. This interactive approach to customer engagement not only imparts valuable information but also creates an immersive experience for users.
iMessage App Integration
Apple Business Chat opens up avenues for businesses to create unique customer experiences within the chat interface using iMessage apps. Companies like The Home Depot leverage these apps to offer additional functionalities, such as viewing detailed product information or accessing in-store maps for product location. This integration not only enriches the chat experience but also empowers businesses to provide more comprehensive solutions to customer queries.
Efficient Selection with Pickers
Selecting options from long lists or choosing specific dates can be challenging within a chat context. Apple Business Chat addresses this issue with the inclusion of list pickers and date pickers. List pickers prompt customers to select one or more items, which can include text, images, and organized sections. This feature streamlines decision-making, similar to quick replies on platforms like Facebook Messenger, ensuring a more efficient conversation flow.
List Pickers (left) & Time Pickers (right)
For scheduling purposes, Apple Business Chat offers a time picker that allows customers to choose available time slots, such as scheduling meetings. Additionally, the time picker view can highlight any scheduling conflicts based on the user’s Apple Calendar app. After making a selection, customers can revisit their choice in the conversation view and seamlessly add the event to their Calendar. This functionality significantly simplifies the process of scheduling appointments and ensures users are always well-informed about their commitments.
Enhancing Customer Engagement: Getting Started
Obtaining an Apple Business Chat account involves a specific set of steps tailored to the platform’s requirements. Unlike other messaging apps, where the process may vary, Apple Business Chat mandates verification. However, even without a physical location, businesses can create an account. Essential components include providing business hours and ensuring live customer service agents are available during those hours.
Application Process: Step-by-Step
1. Registering an Account:
- Select the account type that best suits your business.
- Provide contact information, including details for a technical contact.
- Optionally, supply contact information for a sponsored executive.
- Unlike Google My Business, an address is not mandatory if your business operates solely online.
Registering A Business Chat Account
2. Brand Information Card:
- Include essential brand details such as the chosen brand name, messaging response time, phone number, and website.
- For businesses with multiple brands, a separate Business Chat account must be created for each.
Brand Information Card
3. Creating Brand Identity:
- Upload a square logo for business profiles and a Messages header logo for conversation displays.
- Customize background and button colors to ensure visibility in both light and dark modes.
Business Profile Logo (left) & Messages Header Logo (right)
4. Verifying MSP Connection:
- Establish a connection with a Messaging Service Platform (MSP) to link your business to Apple Business Chat.
- Select an approved messaging platform from the provided options or use an internal or MSP-supplied URL.
Apple Business Chat Messaging Chain
User Experience Review and Verification
Apple Business Chat conducts a thorough User Experience Review to ensure a seamless customer interaction process. This involves simulating user interactions to validate the effectiveness of your support system. Once this review is successfully completed, customers will be able to locate and utilize the Business Chat Message button, streamlining communication on Business Cards, Place Cards, and websites.
In conclusion, integrating Apple Business Chat into your digital customer engagement strategy offers a myriad of benefits. From streamlined communication through the Message button to a feature-rich Chat UI and specialized functionalities like pickers, Apple Business Chat empowers businesses to provide exceptional customer experiences. By following the structured application process and undergoing verification, companies can harness the power of this platform to forge meaningful connections with their customer base. Embrace this innovative solution, and take your customer engagement to new heights. Visit our website today!