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Apple contact center chat adds rich media, improved UX

The latest iOS update streamlines access for Apple Business Chat from any clickable phone number. Learn why business messaging is gaining popularity in the contact center space.

Customers increasingly expect to interact with businesses through chat applications, and the latest iOS update helps meet customer demand by simplifying access to Apple Business Chat. Businesses are preparing for the influx of messages expected from the change.

Dallas-based Brinks Home Security partnered with business messaging provider Quiq, based in Bozeman, Mont., when it wanted to bring messaging capabilities to its contact center. Now, Brinks Home Security and Quiq are getting ready for the increase in messaging expected from updated Apple Business Chat.

Apple Business Chat uses Apple's Messages app to provide real-time messaging between customers and businesses. Customers can use Apple Business Chat to schedule appointments, get customer support and shop directly in a chat window.

Before the update, iOS users could search for a business on Safari or another web browser and then open a new message in the Apple Messages app. The newest update for iOS streamlines the process to access Apple Business Chat.

Businesses get ready for streamlined chat

With the new update, iOS users can move directly from any clickable phone number on an Apple device to a chat window instead of a call. For example, when Google shows a clickable phone number for businesses that use Apple Business Chat, customers will have the option to call or open a chat window.

Apple enables businesses to set parameters for how many iOS users see the messaging option, which offers greater control over the volume of incoming messages, said Mike Parish, director of application development at Brinks Home Security.

"We've hired for it, but Apple is also making it easy to control the volume of incoming messages," Parish said.

Having the capabilities of messaging tools integrated into the contact center changes how customers and businesses interact with each other, Parish added.

Benefits of contact center chat apps

Giving customers a real-time chat option gives them more control when they interact with a business, rather than waiting on hold, according to Tsahi Levent-Levi, analyst and founder of BlogGeek.me.

"People are using chat these days to communicate, whether it's through iMessage, WhatsApp or some other chat tool," Levent-Levi said. "People also hate waiting on hold for a business to answer them when they call."

Contact centers can also serve more customers with messaging than with calls alone. Where a 1-to-1 ratio is needed to handle customer calls, an agent can handle multiple chats simultaneously. But not every customer interaction requires a live agent. Messaging enables interactions that don't require live agents to redirect to chatbots and self-service channels, Levent-Levi said.

Using messaging, businesses can more easily trace and analyze what users are communicating with them about, Levent-Levi said. "For customers, chats aren't as ephemeral as phone calls. For the most part, chat interactions from a year or more back are stored on the user's device, making it easier for them to refer back to a conversation."

Another benefit of contact center chat over phone calls is the ability to create a rich media experience, Parish said. Media capabilities are especially valuable for companies that handle customer support.

"Chat has capabilities a regular phone call can't match," Parish said. "Troubleshooting a problem over the phone can be difficult. With messaging, you can send pictures and videos of the problem, and in return, we can send links to videos on how to troubleshoot."

Chat also changes the idea of one-way contact. Once a connection has been established, organizations can set up automation that preemptively reaches out to customers about upcoming events or problems.

A two-way contact connection means customers can get reminders about scheduled appointments, which can be changed by replying to the message. For example, customers can receive updates to let them know when packages have been shipped, along with a tracking link. Another message can be sent when the package arrives, along with an embedded video on how to use or install what was sent. Having direct access to the customer helps keep customers engaged, Parish said.

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