Towards the end of WWDC last week, Apple officially announced something that had been spotted on its site on the first day of the conference – Business Chat.
As we said in our WWDC day 1 roundup, Business Chat is a new service that lets businesses chat directly with customers via Messages, enabling them to “get answers to questions, resolve issues and complete transactions on their iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.”
And on Friday, the tech company fleshed out the details of the new messaging platform, which will become available with iOS 11.
Business Chat will enable customers to start conversations with businesses via Messages from Safari, Maps, Spotlight and Siri.
They can open these conversations by clicking Message icons that will appear next to businesses’ names in Safari, Spotlight, Siri and Maps, which when clicked will open up the Messages app.
Businesses can also use QR codes to take consumers to these business chats.
Both the Message icons and the QR codes can also carry within them useful information for the business on the other end, such as geographic location, account details, past orders or a user’s first language.
From here, customers are able to do a number of things – chat to businesses, schedule appointments or deliveries, and even pay for things via Apple Pay.
It will also be possible for businesses to prompt customers to download their own custom-built iMessage chat apps – Apple giving the example of an airline flight seat selector app.
In addition to this, when customers have opened up a Business Chat, businesses are able to send notifications to them, say to remind them of their seat number, or of a scheduled appointment – notifications that the user can turn off at any time.
So far, customer service platforms like LivePerson, Nuance, Salesforce and Genesys have integrated with Apple’s Business Chat platform
Robert Weideman, the executive VP and general manager for Nuance’s enterprise division said: “While Siri made the virtual assistant mainstream, the ability to start a chat session with businesses using Messages is positioned to turn message-based customer service into the dominant way consumers engage with brands.”
And with the public launch expected early next year, the Business Chat Developer Preview is now available for developers and customer service platforms looking to integrate the tool with their apps on iOS 11.