Welcome to Business Chat, Apple. We’ve been expecting you!
Can Apple’s late entrance to the world of business chat differentiate itself enough to drive the engagement that companies have been craving for so long?
Recently Apple Inc. announced the upcoming launch of its new iMessage integration called Business Chat. Apple is positioning it is a “Powerful new way for your customers to get answers to their questions, learn about and purchase your products, and engage with your existing support channels.”
Perhaps Apple may be a little late to the party? With social media and unified communication companies focusing primarily on the B2C relationships over the past few years, companies like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Google, and many others have launched communication platforms to allow their advertising partner access their valuable user base. Apple Business Chat could face significant challenges as it tries to find its place in this crowded space.
But, it’s not all up hill!
Let’s start with a question. How many Over-The-Top(OTT) applications do you have on your phone for communication? As I read more about Apple’s new Business Chat, I asked myself, do I need another? The answer for me is probably not.
Let me break it down for you.
The majority of these apps I use EVERY DAY. I have to check 8 different sources to communicate with my circle. It seems a little excessive. Not to mention, this does not include traditional SMS or any additional applications with businesses that I have a relationship with: Banking, Gym, Utilities, Entertainment, etc…The number of OTT applications continues to grow.
Let’s look at the two most well known Unified Communications(UC) B2C chat based platforms, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Facebook and WhatsApp have a big headstart on Apple. Both companies boast over 1.3 billion chat users that exist in their very own walled garden application, and have different approaches to their UC platforms.
Facebook, at its core, is a social network. It’s designed to allow you to interact with your friends and family and is an outlet for oversharing of political opinions, cat memes, and general nonsense. Businesses took notice of the amount of time users were spending in the application and decided they needed to be there too. Companies spent almost $40 billion in advertising on Facebook in 2017. With Facebook’s unprecedented insights into users, businesses had a headstart as they served extremely relevant advertising to individuals on a 1 to 1 scale.
Relevant advertising meant more time inside the walled garden and ease of a chat became more and more relevant. Originally a feature within the Facebook application, Messenger has broken out on it’s own (Because sometimes you just need to add a snarky comment or caption a meme in a 1 on 1 setting).
In 2017, over 330 million people connected with a small business on Messenger for the first time. This was aided by their launch of Discover. Discover is a hub inside Messenger for identifying new and interesting AI Chatbots, businesses, and nearby places.
WhatsApp took a different approach. It started primarily because the creator Jan Koum wanted more information from his contact list such as his friends locations or if they were on a call. While it was slow to take off, Apple’s launch of push notifications gave WhatsApp’s users the ability to send status notifications directly to their friends and grab their attention. It grabbed the attention of some 400 million users over the course of the next few years.
In 2014 Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stocks. Today, WhatsApp has over 1 Billion daily active users. One of WhatsApp’s original core decisions was to not advertise in the application. Three years after Facebook’s acquisition, that changed. Sitting on a gold mine of eyeballs, Facebook felt the need to recoup and monetize their investment. In late 2017 WhatsApp followed Messenger and delivered its first advertisement. Not surprisingly, WhatsApp Business launched in early January. This combination of a new advertising platform and a potentially direct path to customers has companies salivating.
So, back to Apple’s new offering the Apple Business Chat. Apple will roll out Business Chat as a new feature IN iMessage. So for the first time, this B2C chat offering will exist and operate within an application that all Apple users already use every day! It will also incorporate the functionality directly from other applications you’re familiar as well including Apple Pay, Safari, Maps, and Siri.
While late to the party, Apple has tried to incorporate Business Chat into your everyday life. You can text your mother happy birthday and check your Wells Fargo balance in the same place. Apple hopes you see this communication in the same vein as your other iMessages, familiar and convenient. One of the features that it shares with WhatsApp is that all messages are user initiated. No company will be able to reach out and solicit to you without your initiation. Nice touch!
So will Business Chat from Apple be enough to make up for the fashionably late arrival to the market? An enormous advantage is Apple’s fanatical user base. The adoption rate of new products and services by Apple users is astronomical. Companies like Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s, and Wells Fargo see it as a warm introduction. I’m friends with Apple, you’re friends with Apple, let’s be friends too!
At the end of the day, the market has determined that B2C and C2B engagement is crucial. Customers want less friction when buying and asking for support. Company are looking to find new ways to live where their customers live, speak in a way that resonates to them, and provide relevant products and services in a timely manner.
Telestax’s RestcommONE has focused on allowing companies to communicate and engage with their customers. By integrating with all of the popular OTT messaging products, it does not matter which chat you are using. We have been committed to real-time communications since WhatsApp was just a twinkle in Facebook’s eye.
Schedule an appointment today and see why enterprise companies around the world are using RestcommONE as their real-time communication platform to address the needs of their customers and increase engagement.