This month Apple joined the messaging wars with the announcement of Apple Business Chat. Business Chat will operate through the iMessage app. It allows users to start basic text conversations with businesses from actions in Siri, Maps or Safari. As the iMessage App Store is built out it will also allow businesses to integrate app features within iMessage.
The most significant part of this announcement is that it shows Apple’s intention to move to the front lines of messaging along with Facebook, Microsoft, and others. What does this mean for you and your business? It’s another signal that chat will continue to grow in prominence as a channel. With each new end-point option, it becomes increasingly important to know your customers and be present where they expect to have conversations.
Customers - and our conversations with them - are distributed across channels. Apple Business Chat will further increase the divergence of conversations. As with the mobile platform wars, the first step is deciding to meet the customer where they are. In the past that meant going mobile. The next step was to select which path to take (whether to build on Android or Apple first) or to try to take both at the same time.
Nowadays, you must survey the landscape of chat channels and decide which are most aligned to your customers. Chat is now the most popular channel among consumers. In her 2017 Internet Trends Report, Mary Meeker declared, “Customer service is shifting to chat.” Over the last two years “real-time online customer conversations have been rising rapidly.” The report includes a survey where consumers were asked to choose two things companies could improve for customer service: 60% chose “easier access to online support channels” and 53% selected “faster agent response times.”
Customers want convenience and reliability. They also want instant access to information. Automating chat and messaging will continue to be the best way to deliver on those needs while also providing a consistent and customized experience at scale.
With this in mind, enterprises should look for platforms that can execute customer or employee engagement consistently across channels and endpoints. This strategy mitigates the dangers of going all-in on one or two channels. All-in is not a strategy: it’s a costly experiment. It risks spending time and money only to find your customers prefer SMS over Facebook Messenger. It also risks discovering that the chosen channel meets customer communication challenges but doesn’t adequately integrate your entire knowledge base.
Next IT has helped companies like Charter Communications, Alaska Airlines, Amtrak, and the U.S. Army navigate these challenges for over 15 years. The experience, maturation of enabling technologies and continuous innovation allows us to help our customers avoid these stumbling blocks with a comprehensive yet efficient approach to implementing AI. Apple Business Chat does not yet enable automated conversations. When it does, though, we will integrate it as another channel into Alme, our multi-modal, multi-language, omnichannel platform. And, our Natural Language Generation will continue to enable business users to manage, add, and change the content for each response and conditional response on the fly just like it does for every other channel.
Alme was designed from the ground up to work with any channel or endpoint. In fact, our latest release successfully integrated into over 400 unique enterprise systems, pushing and pulling data to personalize interactions. Alme’s vast real-world experience also creates efficiencies that deliver results fast; for example, we recently deployed a scalable intelligent assistant which can support over 1,000 unique intents with rich, action-oriented dialogues and proprietary backend integrations in under two months.
Next IT believes every enterprise can and should be successful with AI. Once you decide to meet the customer where they are, it isn’t so much a matter of Apple Business Chat versus Facebook Messenger. The question is whether you are implementing a system that aligns with your strategy to deliver now and in the future. This isn’t product differentiation; this is table stakes for delivering AI that gets businesses results.