Launching with iOS11 this fall, Apple is touting Business Chat as “a powerful new way for businesses to connect with customers directly from within Messages.” As Apple states on their developer site, “Business Chat connects businesses with their customers to answer questions, schedule appointments, make payments with Apple Pay, and more. Business Chat makes the connection with customers possible by integrating with the business’s existing customer contact center.” iMessage Chatbots have arrived.
With iMessage Chatbots, a customer discovers a business using Apple apps, services, and features (for example, Siri, Maps, Safari, and Spotlight), then chats with the business using the Messages app on their Apple device.
Technically speaking, Business Chat routes messages between a customer and business using what Apple calls the “Business Chat Server”. The server exchanges messages with the business by way of the Customer Service Platform (CSP), which is a web service implemented by the business or third party. The CSP provides an abstraction layer between the Business Chat Server and the business’s customer contact center. Using the CSP, Business Chat can support any customer contact center in use by businesses. All a business needs to do to take advantage of these iMessage Chatbots is provide a CSP on top of their existing contact center.
If customers need more information that can’t be delivered via text, businesses can prompt them to download standalone apps. iMessage extensions are also supported for more complex tasks, like selecting a seat in a concert venue or on a plane.
People will be able to shop directly with this iMessage Chatbot too! Apple states, “With Business Chat, you can ask for payment from a customer using Apple Pay.” Apple Pay’s appeal is definitely growing. Customers can already pay through their TouchID, and Apple announced their Venmo & PayPal competitor just this week. Now, a user can stay within iMessage for peer-to-peer payments between family and friends, and businesses. This is the definition of conversational commerce.
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