How Apple’s New Business Chat Works

iMessage isn’t just for texting your friends and family anymore. With Apple’s new Business Chat feature, you can now text businesses and brands with your questions right from iMessage. Here’s how it works.

Business Chat is a way for you to easily connect with businesses without jumping through hoops on their website. Instead, you can text them through iMessage and ask your questions there. The feature was originally unveiled during WWDC 2017, but wasn’t released until recently as a new feature in iOS 11.3 (as well as on macOS 10.13.4).

Currently, there are only a handful of businesses that support Business Chat: Apple, Discover, Hilton, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marriott, Newegg, TD Ameritrade, Wells Fargo, and 1-800-Flowers. Furthermore, it seems that Business Chat is still rolling out slowly to users, as not every supported business worked for me. So keep that in mind.

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To get started, there are several ways you can bring up a Business Chat with a supported brand or business. Some websites have a link to chat in iMessage (like 1-800-Flowers), but you can always find an iMessage button next to supported businesses when you search for them in Siri, Safari, or Apple Maps. Like I mentioned above, some businesses may not show up for you right now—Home Depot showed up in Siri results for me, but not when searching for it in Apple Maps.

 

After tapping the iMessage button, a new conversation window is created with that business and you can immediately start chatting with them. You’ll probably get an automated message at first saying that a representative will be with you shortly, so be prepared to wait a bit.

After you’re connected, though, it’s just like chatting with a friend through iMessage, only this time it’s with a business, and you can get help or ask questions about products or services.

The great thing about Business Chat is that there’s really no rush to respond to the customer service representative. During a live chat online, you could be disconnected if you don’t respond after a while. But with Business Chat, you can go about your day, and whenever you get a reply, you’ll receive a notification just like you would with any text message.

Business Chat doesn’t share your personal information with the business you’re chatting with (name, phone number, zip code, and so on). However, you may need to share this info with them if you’re setting up an appointment or a delivery.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.