Apple is rolling out its Business Chat service to more countries, letting consumers communicate directly with businesses on Apple’s messaging platform.
When it launched in January, business partners included Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo.
Today’s announcement includes the likes of Burberry, West Elm, Kimpton Hotels, and Vodafone Germany.
The program, which remains in Beta, added 15 new companies today in the US and 15 internationally including in the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Italy, Australia and France.
Business Chat is now available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Unlike chatbot customer service platforms, Business Chat lets customers speak to real people, and it gives users control over how much information they share with a business.
A LivePerson survey claims over 70 percent of people choose a “message” button over a “call” button on a company website or app when given the option, and customer satisfaction rates are 25 percent higher for messaging than for calling.
There are now over 45 big enterprises using Business Chat, including 15 in the U.S. (such as DirectTV Now, Freshly and many more) and another 30 names announced early October worldwide.
Each company uses the service a little differently, for example:
• Burberry will use Business Chat to let customers check availability, get sizing and fitting information, and help place orders worldwide.
• West Elm is offering free home design expert services via Apple’s system. Customers can message or send photos to the Design Crew Expert to get advice on any room in their home through Messages.
• Today, Apple Business Chat users can reach 88 Four Seasons properties across the globe, while benefitting from Four Seasons Chat’s capabilities to communicate with real people at each property in 100+ languages, with response times averaging 90 seconds or less. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts currently operates 110 hotels and resorts, and 39 residential properties in major city centres and resort destinations in 46 countries, and with more than 50 projects under planning or development.
To make Business Chat function, Apple works with customer service platforms, including LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance, Genesys, InTheChat, and Zendesk.
“Today’s customer expects to communicate with businesses in the same way they do with friends, on whatever channel is most convenient for them.” said Caitlin Henehan, vice president and general manager of Zendesk Chat, when the feature was first introduced.
You can initiate a chat using big blue buttons situated on company websites, on Apple Maps, and elsewhere. Tap the button to start your conversation. While you must be on an iPhone or iPad to start a chat, you can continue them on any device that is signed into the same Apple ID.