Chatbot Tools: Does Ur Business Even TXT?

Chatbot Tools: Does Ur Business Even TXT?
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How Apple, Facebook, Google, and other chatbot tools are making customer service more frictionless


Waiting on hold—so last century, amirite?

While automated call centers aren’t going away just yet, as artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing improves, more businesses are racing to adopt chatbot tools for customer service. Recent research from Forrester found that customers are more likely to engage with a business they can contact via a chat app. Facebook, Google, and other companies offer chatbot tools like Messenger and Google My Business, and now, Apple is jumping into the mix with its widely adopted built-in messaging platform.

Earlier this summer at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that iOS 11 (expected to launch this fall) will include Business Chat, which lets companies connect directly with customers using iMessage. Americans send 40 billion iMessages daily, according to a study by Forrester. And 75 percent of US online adults send or receive text messages each day.

Within Safari search results and Apple Maps, an iMessage option will pop up. Users will also be able to begin a conversation with a business through Siri and Spotlight Search. Coupled with Apple’s introduction of peer-to-peer payments via iMessage with Apple Pay, as well as Apple’s integration of iMessage across its iCloud platform, these new functionalities signal an evolutionary leap forward for conversational interfaces to provide frictionless experiences.

Imagine telling Siri to text your airline to rebook a cancelled flight instead of waiting on hold with a call center or standing in a long line. Starbucks has partnered with Apple to allow its app users to send giftcards via iMessage (there goes any excuse not to send a quick thank-you gift).

Apple Business Chat is just one way for businesses to interact with mobile customers. In April, Facebook unveiled new features to make it easier to discover brands that have Facebook bots. Facebook Messenger reportedly has more than 100,000 bots on its platform. And Google My Business messaging lets businesses set up a texting option that appears right next to the call option on Google search results. Google’s system protects business’ privacy by displaying an anonymous number, and can be set up to message several employees at once to share customer messaging responsibilities.

Apple’s Business Chat is available in developer preview with iOS 11. Interested companies should register to try it out. Your customers expect complete, contextual answers to their questions, and chat is one more communication channel for your business to deliver.