Last week Marcus was searching for the perfect gift for a new dog daddy and ended up on the Tiffany & Co website. After asking a question about engraving, he found himself interacting with an agent directly in iMessage.
He was surprised at how smooth the transition was and how great it looked. The function is called Business Chat and it launched in Australia way back 2018. Back then, a handful of businesses, including Apple itself, were using the service.
With Business Chat customers can interact with you via iMessage when they search for you through Maps, Safari, Spotlight and Siri. They simply hit the ‘Message’ action button and a conversation opens in their messages. You can even take payment via ApplePay.
On your end, Business Chat integrates with many messaging services like Zendesk. Sounds great, right?
So why haven’t consumers seen more of it? You wouldn’t think the director of a social media agency would be pleasantly surprised to use a feature that dropped in 2018. But Business Chat is still pretty uncommon.
Partly, it’s simply that Apple initially rolled it out to a limited number of companies (the service is still marked as ‘beta’ in the explainer video). But it’s now easier to sign up, and Zendesk recently announced that all their customers would be eligible for the function through them.
There’s something else going on, too.
In the time it’s taken Apple to roll out this service, competitors have been getting their noses in. It’s relatively pain free to set up a messenger bot in Facebook that does most of the things Business Chat does.
Not to mention the fact that Facebook Messenger isn’t limited to a single user system. Even for IOS and Apple users, native apps are losing market share. Only 31.6% of iOS users in the United States use Safari. When it comes to navigation apps, Apple Maps never had the dominant market share, with Google Maps still operating as the default navigation app for the majority of users.
Still, messaging builds trust and loyalty. Particularly if it’s messaging that’s native to your phone rather than on a third-party app.
And, let’s be honest, Facebook has not been particularly good at building consumer trust these days.
If, like Tiffany & Co, you’re already pursuing an omnichannel communications strategy then we think Apple Business Chat is a must. However, if you have limited means, there are far simpler and more widely-used solutions.