The goal of Apple Business Chat is to make it easy exchange messages with companies. The service just debuted in iOS 11.3, and T-Mobile today joined the handful of businesses that support it.
With it, people can make purchases, schedule appointments, or just ask questions.
Business Chat is still a beta, so fewer than a dozen companies use it now. That includes Wells Fargo, Hilton, Home Depot, newegg, and several more. Apple promises that the number will grow, however.
And the features aren’t limited. T-Mobile points out why it’s better than a phone call: “You can change your rate plan, change your address and buy a new phone. You can ask questions, make a payment, check your balance…you can even send us screenshots so we can quickly and easily troubleshoot any issues.”
Business Chat can be done on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, as long as they are running the latest version of iOS or macOS. On an iPhone, just swipe right from the home screen, search for the company’s name, and hit the Chat icon. Or search for the company name in the Maps app, then click the Chat icon.
Being an Apple product, it protects the user’s privacy. The official description points out “Only you can start a conversation. And when you do, the company can’t see personal information, like your name or phone number, unless you choose to share it.”
Human or chatbot?
Messaging systems that put customers in contact with companies have a bad reputation. All too often, these are manned by chatbots that spout pre-canned responses that don’t answer peoples’ questions.
Apple promises that its Business Chat will be different. “Most often, your conversations will be with a live agent. You might get a fast, automated response for simple requests, but a real person will be available if needed.”
T-Mobile committed itself to using actual humans. “You’ll be chatting with a real person at T-Mobile – not a machine!”