Apple’s new Business Chat (“Business Chat”) feature was announced on June 9th at WWDC. Throughout most of the presentation of the features and use-cases of the new product, business examples that were being used included airline companies, online retailers and larger businesses with complex customer service departments.
So not completely in the entrepreneurial spirit. For the true small business owners and entrepreneurs who are working for themselves (or maybe hire 1-10 people), the value was not clear on the service.
However, if you dig deeper into the heart of Business Chat, there can be found some real benefits. It is shown as to how this much-anticipated product helps small business.
The value is giving today’s professional a communication tool to help them grow. Not just from getting discovered by new clients, but also by better serving their existing client base. That combination blows most of today’s ever-growing laundry list of messaging apps out of the water.
Less bots, more relationships
A big push in today’s messaging world is the increasing evolution of bots.
Bots meaning machines (essentially) that can interact with your customers on your behalf. That involves a bot reading your clients’ messages as they come in, and then sending “appropriate” responses. Businesses can also set up automated responses to be triggered based on the message that the clients sends them.
Facebook Messenger is at the forefront of the bot revolution.
There are indeed use-cases where this can be helpful. This is especially prevalent at a company where the volume of customer inquiries is incredibly high. It is this that helps the company better service their clientele.
Apple’s Business Chat, however, is taking a slightly different approach. Their tagline at the beginning of their WWDC presentation on Business Chat was “A better way to make meaningful connections with your clients”. So Apple seems to be taking an refreshing approach to customer communication.
Apple is more focused on allowing business owners to have personal connections and conversations with each of their clients. The company seems less so focused on automation (at least for the time being), but more around allowing clients to directly connect with the actual owner of the business, and get a personal response.
The fact that clients do not need to download an entirely separate app to communicate with the professional is a huge win. That means no friction whatsoever when a client wants to ask a question, or drop you a line, or send you a follow-up.
This makes professionals more instantaneously accessible to clients – both old and new. Being instantly accessible goes hand-in-hand with great service.
Every business wants more customers to find them. And nowadays, there are countless ways to get your business discovered by more clients online.
Once a client discovers you and your business online, there then becomes the initial friction point of what the customer does next.
Do they call you? Interestingly enough, 64% of Americans would rather text a business than call.
Do they find your email address and compose an email to ask questions? Finding your email address takes work on the client’s end.
Do they go to your website, head to your contact page, and fill out your contact form? That could be 5-10 “clicks” away.
Being a part of Business Chat empowers clients with quick messaging capabilities when a customer finds your business online. A message widget will appear listed next to your business on any Google searches done on the client’s iPhone. This is a convenient and lightweight start to a conversation. It does not require the customer to book an appointment with you right away (which can sometimes be too much of a commitment). It succeeds in opening up the dialogue into committing to doing business.
In today’s increasingly mobile world, and with messaging apps growing almost exponentially, mobile (and instant) communication is beginning to be the norm – for people young and old.
One other problem Business Chat is attempting to solve is the logistical pain inherent with every business-client relationship.
Specifically, for those business owners selling their time by providing a service, Business Chat will allow professionals to send over their availability. This is sent in the form of time slots for clients to choose from within the iMessage thread itself.
This is beneficial for not just new clients but also for existing clients as well. A “one touch” scheduling flow without having to leave the iMessage experience can help further build goodwill to foster that business-client relationship.
There is more work to do
We are in the very early innings with regards to improving communication tools and technology between customers and businesses.
Every day another messaging app (or tool) enters the space in its attempt to solve a variety of communication pain points. All too common, however, these messaging apps look to solve the consumer experience first and foremost. All while putting the entrepreneur and business in the backseat.
Although there is still a lot of improvement needed to Business Chat to be fully adopted by the entrepreneurial service economy, Apple is one of the first to take the preliminary steps in preserving the personal relationship between the business and the customer.