Apple Business Chat Expands to Dish Network, Philadelphia Phillies, American Express, and Others

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Apple Business Chat, which is customer service through iMessage, is expanding to a total of 10 new partners and technology platforms.


Apple on Friday announced that satellite TV provider DISH, concessions operator Aramark, hotel chain Four Seasons, food and gift producer Harry & David, and credit card company American Express are adopting the service.

Here's the rundown from Apple:Aramark is launching a 10-game pilot of "Brew2You" at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. By scanning a QR code on their seat back, fans in three sections can use Business Chat to order beer or water and have it delivered to their seat.
DISH Network is deploying Business Chat to customers nationwide, to allow them to contact a live agent to ask questions, make account changes, and schedule an appointment. They can also use their credit card on file to order a pay-per-view movie or sporting event.
Four Seasons will enable guests to search for any Four Seasons property and instantly engage Four Seasons Chat, a multi-lingual chat service, helping guests to engage with Four Seasons teams anywhere, at any time, for any need.
Harry & David customers can chat with a gift concierge about a product or service, or ask any other questions they might have.
American Express is kicking off a pilot program for card members to get account information such as their balance, payment due dates, points balance, as well as ask for a card replacement, dispute a charge, get information about their card benefits, and more.Apple also announced five new technology platforms supporting Business Chat, including Cisco, eGain, Kipsu, Lithium, and Quiq, that businesses can integrate with to handle routing of inbound communications and so forth.

Apple Business Chat also powered the official concierge service for Cannes Lions in June, with LivePerson.

Apple Business Chat launched in iOS 11.3 in March, enabling iPhone and iPad users to ask for information, schedule appointments, make purchases, and complete other customer service tasks directly in the Messages app.


Other companies using Business Chat include Apple itself, Discover, Hilton, The Home Depot, Lowe's, Marriott, Newegg, T-Mobile, Ameritrade, Wells Fargo, and 1-800-Flowers. Apple says it has seen "strong interest" in the service.

Business Chats must be initiated on an iPhone or iPad, but they can be continued on any other iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch signed into the same Apple ID. You can start a conversation by searching for a business in Maps, Safari, Siri, or Search and tapping on the Messages bubble where available.

Article Link: Apple Business Chat Expands to Dish Network, Philadelphia Phillies, American Express, and Others
 
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confirmed

macrumors regular
Dec 30, 2001
143
84
New York, NY
Happy to see the use of this service spread, but i don’t see it becoming successful until Apple fully embraces it themselves. Currently, Apple’s use of Business Chat is limited to retail store info. Apple or iTunes customer support is not available through this channel. Instead, both of those use a more traditional web chat, which provides a very poor experience on mobile and nowhere near as sleek as Business Chat.

I get that Apple wants to focus on features like integrated Apple Pay, to assist you in buying something from a store via chat, but if Business Chat is limited to those use cases, it seems to be benefiting the businesses more than the customers, and I’ll happily stay away.
 

unr1

macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2008
169
25
I recently switched from the dish hopper 3 to fios and I miss the hopper 3

I think it’s the best DVR on the market right now.
 
Great, but greater would be for DISH to take the DISH Anywhere app that is already very functional on iDevices and create an :apple:TV version. Then a household could bypass DISH lease boxes and use :apple:TV with however many other TVs are in the home. That would make the service much more affordable, better competing with the various cord-cutting options.

I was a long-term DISH subscriber (about 8+ years) who wanted a better rate without the typical compromises of losing 5.1 surround and a full-featured DVR. The streamers generally come up short with both of those (note: for the latter, the key word was "full"). So then I discovered HDHomeRun boxes + the Channels app + the Channels app DVR service and ended up going (way) back to a local cable subscription via cablecard in HDHomeRun Prime box. No hardware box leases at all from the cable company, a "double play" service discount, I don't burn one byte against a broadband cap with this video because the cable service is excluded from that usage AND I get high(er) quality HD with 5.1 surround, all of the local channels (the actual locals, not just the major network shows), local sports, etc. Since it's technically a cable subscription, the various apps that require a cable or SATT subscription work too. The DVR service is NOT gimped like the virtual DVRs associated with various streamers.

If DISH (natively, not airplay) shared the already-iOS-functional Anywhere app with :apple:TV, I'd probably still be a DISH subscriber, instead of giving a chunk of that money to Comcast and keeping the rest in my pocket. But the choice to protect those lease fee revenues trumps a simple solution to add value for subscribers. I guess there's not enough of my type out there yet to make DISH recognize the losses from those who do something similar is greater than the added profits they get from those who will just keep paying up for lease boxes. Too bad. DISH is a terrific service. I'd love to still be with them... minus the lease box fees. The Anywhere app that already exists and works very well should easily migrate to :apple:TV. I'm interested when DISH finally decides to do that. In the meantime, the dreaded Comcast gets that monthly revenue instead.
 
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dannyyankou

macrumors G3
Mar 2, 2012
9,390
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Westchester, NY
Does anyone find it ironic that Apple themselves don’t support business chat?

Edit: Nevermind, I tried it with 1-800-my-Apple and that didn’t work. I did it the wrong way.
 
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ersan191

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2013
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Used this with 1800 flowers once, they took over an hour to respond each time and I was out of the country so I had limited internet, it was frustrating to say the least.

The platform itself is great though.
 

sw1tcher

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2004
1,762
2,348
$6 for a bottle of water! ****ing crazy!
The water delivery guy should have "delivered" that $6 bottle of water to the Phillie Phanatic with a hot dog gun and accidentally hit the Phillie Phanatic in the face with it. Missed opportunity. :(
 

Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
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I used this recently with Home Depot and to be honest it was pretty good. I did the whole back and forth in my own time without emails to “Peggy” and resolved the issue easily with no awkward phone calls unlike most places.
 
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dilbert99

macrumors 68020
Jul 23, 2012
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Happy to see the use of this service spread, but i don’t see it becoming successful until Apple fully embraces it themselves.
I don't see these kinds of service becoming successful while Apple chooses to be a walled garden.
 

FrontFoot

macrumors newbie
Sep 13, 2017
2
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Interesting on the Four Seasons adoption of Business Chat; the company is owned by Bill Gates.
 

MacBH928

macrumors 601
May 17, 2008
4,398
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I am skeptical this is going to pickup. Offering a service that is tied to 1 platform which is tied to a specific hardware which is tied to specific iOS version. I mean compare it to something like SMS that works with any cellphone since '99 .

Can you imagine if it was like you have to have a Windows Phone and an Outlook account and Skype App for this to work.
 

FreakinEurekan

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2011
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Eureka Springs, Arkansas
I am skeptical this is going to pickup. Offering a service that is tied to 1 platform which is tied to a specific hardware which is tied to specific iOS version.
I agree, the ONE customer that it makes sense for is Apple themselves. But they're barely supporting it, with very limited features for existing customers - mostly seems to be geared toward making new purchases.
 

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
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Between the coasts
Apple's basic sales pitch is the difference between the business using web-based chat tools and using a dedicated chat client. There are some real benefits to using client-based chat (persistence of conversation, notifications, richer media content, etc.). After that, it's a matter of which chat client(s) the business adopts. It's advantageous to use a chat client that is in widespread use, and iMessage is one of the largest. Unlike most other chat clients (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.), Apple Messages is built-in - no "if you don't have x, you have to download it, setup an account, etc." If an Apple customer reaches out for support, they're immediately off and running. If a customer initiates support from the company's web page, the support software will automatically detect Apple-based customer contact (browser reports the platform) and switch to Apple Business Chat. If not, the interaction remains web-based. (A web-based interaction isn't going to automatically report the presence of an optional chat client on the customer's end.)

Why not SMS for this? There are a couple of key features missing from SMS. The biggest may be that SMS doesn't indicate when a message has been read/received, and that it doesn't indicate that someone is typing. In an environment where the support organization wants to know the customer is still present/paying attention (so as to free-up the support agent for another customer if the first customer stops responding), that can be a biggie. The commonly-used browser-based chat clients do include that indication, so any client-based solution has to also support it.

In the end, will this be successful? The support organizations have to buy-in, just as businesses have to buy in to Apple Pay on their web sites. It's unlikely to ever be a ubiquitous platform. However, Apple customers are a large, attractive demographic market, and Apple will be offering businesses a variety of useful tools (integration with Wallet, for example) that can help sales support as well as tech support.
[doublepost=1532192467][/doublepost]
I agree, the ONE customer that it makes sense for is Apple themselves. But they're barely supporting it, with very limited features for existing customers - mostly seems to be geared toward making new purchases.
I think "barely supporting" is just a matter of time. There's likely a lot of work to do to update Apple's internal support systems to use this, rather than their current web-based chat tools.
 

truthertech

macrumors 68020
Jun 24, 2016
2,042
2,207
I don't see these kinds of service becoming successful while Apple chooses to be a walled garden.

I wouldn't count them out. That "walled garden" is the most valuable ecosystem in the world with hundreds of millions of consumers around the world. The most affluent of any group. It's part of the reason Apple Services alone is one of the largest revenue producers in the world with over $50 billion a year in revenue and spiking ever higher.

People mistakenly assume Apple wants to be dominant in numbers when they have never worried or desired to be that. They are focused on improving their ecosystem with the best quality products and services they can offer and that has paid off handsomely in every market they enter.
 
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coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
4,706
4,870
Vancouver, BC
$6 for a bottle of water! ****ing crazy!
Yup, that's what caught my attention. This world is full of abuses these days, all in the name of convenience and profit.
[doublepost=1532306398][/doublepost]
People mistakenly assume Apple wants to be dominant in numbers when they have never worried or desired to be that. They are focused on improving their ecosystem with the best quality products and services they can offer and that has paid off handsomely in every market they enter.
Yup, the growing user base is a direct result of their focus on product and service quality, rather than just dishing out the "free" options available elsewhere, which are not really free at the end of the day.
 

frankly

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2003
637
66
Apple's basic sales pitch is the difference between the business using web-based chat tools and using a dedicated chat client. There are some real benefits to using client-based chat (persistence of conversation, notifications, richer media content, etc.). After that, it's a matter of which chat client(s) the business adopts. It's advantageous to use a chat client that is in widespread use, and iMessage is one of the largest. Unlike most other chat clients (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.), Apple Messages is built-in - no "if you don't have x, you have to download it, setup an account, etc." If an Apple customer reaches out for support, they're immediately off and running. If a customer initiates support from the company's web page, the support software will automatically detect Apple-based customer contact (browser reports the platform) and switch to Apple Business Chat. If not, the interaction remains web-based. (A web-based interaction isn't going to automatically report the presence of an optional chat client on the customer's end.)

Why not SMS for this? There are a couple of key features missing from SMS. The biggest may be that SMS doesn't indicate when a message has been read/received, and that it doesn't indicate that someone is typing. In an environment where the support organization wants to know the customer is still present/paying attention (so as to free-up the support agent for another customer if the first customer stops responding), that can be a biggie. The commonly-used browser-based chat clients do include that indication, so any client-based solution has to also support it.

In the end, will this be successful? The support organizations have to buy-in, just as businesses have to buy in to Apple Pay on their web sites. It's unlikely to ever be a ubiquitous platform. However, Apple customers are a large, attractive demographic market, and Apple will be offering businesses a variety of useful tools (integration with Wallet, for example) that can help sales support as well as tech support.
[doublepost=1532192467][/doublepost]

I think "barely supporting" is just a matter of time. There's likely a lot of work to do to update Apple's internal support systems to use this, rather than their current web-based chat tools.
I agree with all of this. However, there is still one huge problem. It is not easy for customers to find this. I was able to find it when I searched in Maps for Home Depot, but not for American Express. And therein lies the problem. Also, if this lives in Messages, why am I forced to use Maps to initiate the conversation? It is a great idea with a really poor user experience.
 

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
3,758
2,336
Between the coasts
I agree with all of this. However, there is still one huge problem. It is not easy for customers to find this. I was able to find it when I searched in Maps for Home Depot, but not for American Express. And therein lies the problem. Also, if this lives in Messages, why am I forced to use Maps to initiate the conversation? It is a great idea with a really poor user experience.
It's not easy to find right now, because it's in the early stages of beta deployment. Kind of like finding vendors supporting Apple Pay

You're not forced to use Maps to initiate, although one of the first working examples of the feature was in Maps. It's a matter of where a business deploys the Messages button. To quote from the above article,
You can start a conversation by searching for a business in Maps, Safari, Siri, or Search and tapping on the Messages bubble where available.
And longer term, you'll start seeing this in all sorts of iOS and Mac apps and on web pages - developers will be able to incorporate this into their apps using the new Business Chat SDK in Xcode. I'd expect they'll be encouraged to provide this feature on their apps' pages on the App Store, supplementing or replacing the mandatory support web link.

And unlike the normal support chat popup, which closes at the end of an interaction, if a customer chooses to preserve the conversation in the Messages app, they can use that existing conversation to start another interaction directly from Messages. It might also be a good practice for the support organization to include a vCard (Contacts card) in the chat that would then allow the customer to start a new chat from the Contacts app.

Will it be hard to use? People will have to recognize the iMessage bubble icon and understand that by clicking it, they'll initiate an interaction in the Messages app. This is little different than initiating an iMessage conversation from the Contacts app today. That's likely to be intuitive to some, and non-intuitive to others. It'll also be learned behavior after a bit, should its use catch on.

Will enough businesses adopt this feature that it will eventually be instantly recognizable to many or most of Apple's customers? Hard to know at this point.
 

dilbert99

macrumors 68020
Jul 23, 2012
2,164
1,790
I wouldn't count them out. That "walled garden" is the most valuable ecosystem in the world with hundreds of millions of consumers around the world. The most affluent of any group. It's part of the reason Apple Services alone is one of the largest revenue producers in the world with over $50 billion a year in revenue and spiking ever higher.

People mistakenly assume Apple wants to be dominant in numbers when they have never worried or desired to be that. They are focused on improving their ecosystem with the best quality products and services they can offer and that has paid off handsomely in every market they enter.
I guess it depends on what you determine successful as being.
Apple cannot be successful at multi-party global services when they only cater to Mac or iPhone consumers and not cross platform.
Take for instance, personal payments with Apple, what use is that if the person I want to pay doesn't have an iPhone? This is a scenario that is the norm outside the US.
 

frankly

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2003
637
66
It's not easy to find right now, because it's in the early stages of beta deployment. Kind of like finding vendors supporting Apple Pay

You're not forced to use Maps to initiate, although one of the first working examples of the feature was in Maps. It's a matter of where a business deploys the Messages button. To quote from the above article, And longer term, you'll start seeing this in all sorts of iOS and Mac apps and on web pages - developers will be able to incorporate this into their apps using the new Business Chat SDK in Xcode. I'd expect they'll be encouraged to provide this feature on their apps' pages on the App Store, supplementing or replacing the mandatory support web link.

And unlike the normal support chat popup, which closes at the end of an interaction, if a customer chooses to preserve the conversation in the Messages app, they can use that existing conversation to start another interaction directly from Messages. It might also be a good practice for the support organization to include a vCard (Contacts card) in the chat that would then allow the customer to start a new chat from the Contacts app.

Will it be hard to use? People will have to recognize the iMessage bubble icon and understand that by clicking it, they'll initiate an interaction in the Messages app. This is little different than initiating an iMessage conversation from the Contacts app today. That's likely to be intuitive to some, and non-intuitive to others. It'll also be learned behavior after a bit, should its use catch on.

Will enough businesses adopt this feature that it will eventually be instantly recognizable to many or most of Apple's customers? Hard to know at this point.
I agree with most of what you are saying, but I think you are still missing my main point. I am not talking about how we will have to wait until more businesses begin to incorporate that. I am patient and can wait for that. I am referring to this specific article that we are commenting on. In this article it specifically lists 10 new partners. One of those partners is American Express, and yet right now I am unable to find this feature in Apple Maps, Safari, their website, their app, Wallet, and so on. This is a vendor that is being touted as being part of this and I am unable to find a way to connect with them using this feature. THAT is my point. If you can't figure out how to connect with the partners who are specifically part of it, then the feature is currently very poorly implemented.
 
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