Apple is making waves in the business world again with the announcement of the launch of its Apple Business Chat feature with the release of iOS 11.3 this spring. The feature would allow Apple users to chat with customer service reps of businesses directly through iMessage, and while at the surface this does not seem all that different than other messaging applications out there, it has one huge advantage. There is no app that the user needs to download, as messages will be accessible through the text interface Apple users are already using, and furthering the trend towards omni-channel customer service.
What is Omni-Channel Customer Service?
Hubspot defines the Omni-Channel Experience as “a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.” No matter which way customers try to connect with you, whether online (Chat, Social Media), by phone (Voice or text), in person at a brick and mortar location, or by email, the experience would be seamless.
It’s important to note that the omni-channel experience involves multiple (multi) channels, but not all multi-channel experiences are omni-channel. The distinction lies in how integrated and seamless the experience is. Multi-channels that remain in distinctive silos will never be able to provide the seamless experience that customers these days are coming to expect.
Apple Business Chat Could be a Market Disruptor
The timing of the announcement could not have come at a better time. Businesses are reevaluating the role of the contact center in their business strategy. Consumers are increasingly choosing to rely on self-service options and only contact a live person once those attempts have failed. This turns the experience from one of customer service to one of customer retention as consumers only reach out when they are frustrated. IVRs and never-ending menus increase a caller’s frustration, leaving an overall negative impression.
Additionally, the millennial generation consistently chooses to engage with businesses digitally. This article from IBM states that 70% of consumers say they prefer messaging over calling for customer support. This is where the Apple Business Chat could really make its mark. According to this article on Search Unified Communications industry experts expect “Apple Business Chat to draw more attention than it’s competitors for two reasons: Apple pay and the download-free implementation.” On top of this, users of the Apple Business Chat solution will be able to communicate to a business while keeping their personal information private.
Customer Call Centers Take Note
With the world becoming increasingly digital, call centers need to pay attention. To succeed and gain that competitive advantage, you need to do more than just provide exceptional customer service. You need to be able to provide this service through whatever channel your customer wants to communicate with you on. With the number of consumers utilizing smart phones, and specifically the iPhone, call centers who are not ready to meet the demand will fall behind. Apple’s announcement will simplify the user’s ability to reach your business, but only if you pay attention and are prepared to meet your customers in the way they choose.
Search Unified Communications states that Apple Business Chat is currently available to developers, and businesses can register online to use the feature in the future. Nemertes analyst Irwin Lazar sums it up the best. In the same article, he is quoted as saying ”… companies [are] look[ing] for new ways to engage with customers, especially among a younger demographic that is more reliant on their cellphone than a typical web browser.” Contact Centers are undergoing a transformation, and it seems like Apple could have a very big part of that transformation. Stay tuned to this space as we dive into Omni-Channel Customer Support and how your business can take advantage.