Apple Business Essentials emerged from beta last week, but it is not the only enterprise-focused service Apple offers that may boost your business ROI. Companies hoping to reach iPhone-, iPad-, and Mac-using customers should also look at Apple Messages for Business.
What is Apple Messages for Business?
Apple Messages for Business (part of Apple Business Chat family) is a service that lets your business make direct contact with customers using Messages.
In addition to communications, the tool can handle a range of other tasks, such as appointment scheduling and purchasing. However, the biggest asset it provides is that it enables you and your business to communicate with your customers where and when they are.
Customers and potential customers can find you using search (Safari, Siri, Spotlight, Maps) on any Apple device, and your information will be made available as a contacts card. The system is sufficiently smart that when a customer wants to make contact, their iPhone should recognize the number they want to call involves a company using the service — and offer to start a chat in Messages instead.
Why should you use it?
The simplest reason to use Apple Messages for Business is that customers expect it from you. The evolution of omnichannel services means your customers want you to be available in as many ways as possible — online, by phone, within social networks, and via key messaging apps.
It’s a trend that accelerated during the pandemic, when more people became more remote than ever before, prompting acceleration in use of asynchronous B2C messaging services. Just as remote workers want to use Slack at work, remote consumers want to use digital channels to contact companies.
One recent survey found 35% of customers are happier to engage with brands on digital channels since the pandemic. And an earlier November 2021 Vonage survey showed that 47% of consumers worldwide use digital channels to engage with business providers and services than before.
“This underscores the need to connect with and engage with customers in multiple ways, in their preferred modality,” said Vonage CMO Joy Corso. “We are in an age where customers expect ultra-fast, seamless, and dynamic communications and engagement.”
How to get set up
Consumers already use Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate with businesses, but Apple’s solution provides much better privacy and platform integration. That’s because customers can terminate a conversation whenever they like (and keep their contact details private) by deleting the chat in Messages.
Setting up your company to use Apple’s system does require that you secure the services of a Messaging Service Provider (MSP) to manage enquiries. That’s not unusual.
Most services require companies to secure support from MSPs to provide 24/7 access to live chat agents. There are a number of other requirements; to help companies meet them, Apple has published an extensive set of online resources.
Once you set the service up, can make your contact details available in Maps, Siri, Safari, and Spotlight search results.
Frictionless, asynchronous communications
The most important thing to note is that 57% of Americans already use Messages as their default messaging app, which is why Apple Messages for Business should be a priority for many larger consumer-facing (and some enterprise-facing) firms.
Apple device integration means customers can set up schedules, explore items in AR, or purchase products or services with Apple Pay from within a conversation. That integration offers additional advantages that may help your business. Brink’s Home Security, for example, lets customers resolve troubleshooting challenges by sharing images within the chat.
MSP Quiq manages Apple Messages for Business inquiries for a range of household brands, including Volvo and Tiffany & Co. Quiq CEO and founder Mike Myer observes that these services provide a far more effective use of human agents, as bots can handle routine questions, leaving humans free to focus on providing empathic resolution of more complex tasks.
Of course, the one challenge for all of this mooted digital efficiency is the need to create different accounts for different services to offer chat support via the complete package of consumer-chosen chat services. While in most cases an MSP should be able to help your company get set up, future legislation emerging from the EU may make interoperability between such services mandatory.
The challenge there is that in some cases this may generate additional problems, as uncoupling messaging from platform code may disable some of the features these popular system use. There’s a certain irony to this: while attempting to support consumer rights, the EU may deprive consumers of things they’ve come to expect.
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