• March 29, 2018

Apple Adds Business Chat in iOS 11.3

Apple today released an updated version of its operating system, iOS 11.3, which offers a new Business Chat function that allows users to communicate directly with businesses using the Messages app on iPhone and iPad.

Starting today, Business Chat will be available in beta in the United States, and top businesses in retail, finance and hospitality will begin rolling out this new messaging feature for customers.

When searching for a business in Maps, Safari, Search, or Siri on iPhone and iPad, users will be given the option to contact the business using Messages to ask a question about a product or service or make a purchase using Apple Pay. These conversations can be continued on Apple Watch or Mac.

Users are always in control of whether they share any contact information with a business on Business Chat.

Among the CRM companies to get an early jump on integrations with the Business Chat feature were Zendesk and Salesforce.com.

Zendesk is partnering with Apple to seamlessly integrate Business Chat into its software. This will allow customer support agents using Zendesk to provide prompt and responsive support to customers who use Messages on Apple devices.

"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, in a statement. "Zendesk's integration with Apple Business Chat Beta will allow customers to engage with businesses on a much more personal level through Message. Companies will be able to provide timely responses and interact on the channel that is familiar and accessible to the consumer."

Salesforce.com, meanwhile, has expanded its LiveMessage capability to enable companies to have two-way conversations with their customers using Messages.

"Consumers today are five times more likely to message with family and friends than call them, and they expect to communicate with brands the same way," said Meredith Flynn-Ripley, vice president of messaging at Salesforce.com, in a statement. "We consistently hear from our customers that they want to connect with their customers in new ways. We're thrilled to add support for Apple Business Chat to Service Cloud and provide new, easier ways for our customers to bring messaging directly into their CRM."

In addition to the Business Chat function, iOS 11.3, will offer new immersive augmented reality experiences, new Animoji for iPhone X, access to personal health records in the Health app, and more. This free software update also offers customers more visibility into the battery health and performance of their iPhones.

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