June 11, 2017
iOS 11 Business Chat: Everything You Need To Know

Apple is aiming to help other companies take customer service to the next level with iOS 11's Business Chat. The iMessage feature allows direct communication between human representatives and users with no bots or AIs. Should all businesses adopt this feature, it will not be easier for both sides to deal with each other.

How Does It Work

According to Mac Rumors, users can use Business Chat by tapping the message icon beside the business' name. This can turn up in a Spotlight search, browser search, Siri, and Maps. You can also scan a QR code directly with the phone's camera, another iOS 11 feature, to have a talk with a real human.

Tapping does not simply open the iMessage window. It can also carry out tasks such as provide information about the customers, such as their first language, their customer account details (in the business), past orders, and even their security details. They can then work out the user's issue or complete an order.

Business Chat allows for a more interactive transaction with the customer as the thread is packed with features like a Time Picker, which makes the customer choose appointment times; List Picker, which lets customers choose from a list; and Siri predictive text bar that provides your personal details that you may want to share with the customer representative in one click.

Businesses can also use their own extensions on the iMessage app, such as a seat selector. The extension allows the customer to easily choose where to be seated on an airline, a feature that is normally available only on online bookings. To make it easier, Apple Pay is just a tap away.

All these features open up the possibilities for the user to do everything in one thread: file a complaint, ask for clarification, set appointments, shop, buy tickets, and more. The best thing is that the feature comes with iOS 11, which can be downloaded soon on supported devices. This means that you don't need a separate app to chat with businesses.

Which Businesses You Can Chat With

Interested businesses can already sign up for the feature, but they will not be able to reach out to the public until the global release of iOS 11, Apple Insider reported. Those with Customer Service Platforms (CSP), such as Salesforce, LivePerson, Genesys, and Nuance, can apply to join the program.

As the feature becomes more widespread, it will not be surprising to learn that you can have an appointment with your dentist right on the iMessage app. Take note though, that your dentist will then be able to send you messages once you have reached out to them. Nevertheless, you can just ignore the notifications, delete the thread, or block any business from contacting you.

What Makes It Different

Other big brands offer a similar service, like the Facebook Messenger. However, Apple prefers to keep it human-to-human with no auto replies. Adding to that, the custom apps that businesses can integrate into iMessage makes it more useful and easier for both parties to complete the transaction.

The other apps that iOS 11 has control over that third-party apps don't have access to are also a winning factor. Having control over maps or search services is advantageous to Apple in that every transaction imaginable can be done on the iMessage app itself, while Facebook Messenger has limitations of what it can do.

Moreover, the Apple Pay integration does not only make it easier to buy stuff, but it also makes it safer. You won't have to surrender your credit card details in the internet anymore, as that information is secure with Apple.

In summary, iOS 11's Business Chat feature looks promising, especially once every business has joined in. Calling customer support or calling to buy a plane ticket may soon be a thing of the past.

[Featured Image by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]