Converging commerce with Apple’s iMessage

Feb 06 , 2018

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

Introduced to developers this summer, the widely anticipated Apple Business Chat official launch is expected in 2018, giving developers and businesses time to get ready for what may become the all-in-one searching, service, selling, buying and transacting platform of the next decade.

I asked one of our technology-savvy developers: “Why chat?” He held up his Apple iPhone 7 and said: “Do you really think I bought this to make phone calls?” True, that while smartphone users pick up their phone an average of 80 times a day, the majority of the time, it is not to make phone calls – and one of the most used features on the iPhone is iMessage, otherwise labeled Messages. So iPhone users have already made Messages an incredibly important part of their daily life.

Start with Siri, end with Apply Pay

How will Apple Business Chat be different from the chatting you’ve been doing on various devices for the previous decade? In addition to being on iPhone, Apple Business Chat allows a cradle-to-grave transaction without leaving iMessage. You can find what you want to buy (or ask Siri to find it), ask questions about it by chatting with a live customer service person, download the seller’s app, choose product features or a seat at the theater, set an appointment or book a hotel, pay with Apple Pay or the new Apple Pay Cash, get directions on a digital map app and more. Plus, you’ll have a record of all that transpires with that business chat on Messages.

It is also different for the business you are contacting. Business customer service is enhanced because when the customer initiates the iMessage, the business receives a unique and private customer ID that tells only the language, device and regional location of the customer. But that is more information than a telephone call or website chat service agent receives. The business can then provide effective customer service immediately and, when appropriate, ask the customer to provide additional information.

Apple Pay Cash eliminates middleman

Both the customer and the business can transfer photos and other types of attachments within the chat. Many businesses are already experiencing the convenience of Apple Pay, but a major benefit that is a game-changer for Apple Pay Cash will be that the normal 3 to 5 percent credit-card charges will not apply, as the business is dealing directly with the customer – so no debit or credit card or point-of-service machine.

Taking advantage of Apple Business Chat will not be like flipping a switch for businesses. The good news is that the first-rate customer service practices it supports were sharpened in the Apple Store over the last dozen years. Additionally, four platforms – LivePerson, Nuance, Genesys and SalesForce – are already integrated with Apple Business Chat and are prepared to move ahead. Apple Pay is already used by many businesses. New Apple Pay Cash advantages, in terms of eliminating the “middleman” in credit-card transaction costs, will be very attractive for businesses to implement.

Customize the experience with an app

Apple has built in some pretty robust standard features that businesses can use when they register with Apple Business Chat, which can be a starter for any organization. However, now that the developer kit is available, it’s a good time to decide the right application for Apple Business Chat as a part of your company’s sales funnel and customer service platforms. You may benefit from some exclusivity in your use of this product with a custom app that can be integrated using the Apple Business Chat Sandbox for developers.

Once a customer has had an experience with Apple Business Chat and your company, that connection stays in their message box until they delete it. The more we can do to make the sales process on their devices easy and efficient for customers, the higher the likelihood of increased satisfaction and repeat business. Some, if not all, of the Apple Business Chat features previously existed in best practices on multiple devices, but not in the same platform experience with the ease that Apple has designed.

Yes, it could become the all-in-one searching, service, selling, buying and transacting platform of the next decade. If you are ready to be among the first to market with Apple Business Chat, it will definitely be a competitive advantage.

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