Lowe's offering live conversations through Apple's new Business Chat

Lowe's will be one of the first retailers to implement Business Chat through Apple. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

Apple has unveiled Business Chat, a new way for users to communicate directly with businesses within Messages. A new function of its ARKit for iOS 11.3, the program will launch in beta for the public this spring. 

Lowe's is one of the first retailers to onboard with Business Chat, which includes functions such as having a conversion with a sales associate, scheduling an appointment or making a purchase using Apple Pay. 

Business Chat will not share the user's contact information with the partnering businesses and gives consumers the ability to end the chat at any time. 

Business Chat is the next step in Lowe’s digital journey to improve the customer experience. With Business Chat, Lowe’s customers will be able to message Lowe’s directly to inquire about the status of an order, to schedule deliveries or ask for product recommendations. And conversations between the customer and the representative remain live, even if the customer takes an extended period to respond.

So what made Lowe's decide to be an early adopter of this technology?

"At Lowe’s, we are committed to delivering home improvement solutions to customers seamlessly, wherever and whenever they choose," Gihad Jawhar, vice president of digital at Lowe’s, told FierceRetail. "Business Chat offers a more flexible and capable experience to our customers, allowing them to engage when it’s most convenient for them. We understand our customers are busy, and many would prefer to utilize texting to ask a question or resolve an issue without dedicating time to a phone call."

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Jawhar says offering this line of communication is so important as the ways customers communicate with companies are evolving. And although the telephone has served customers for generations, it is not always the ideal way to communicate with a business anymore. 

Plus, this new tool from Apple will help improve the role of the sales associate. 

"Serving customers now requires us to be more connected than ever before. Our people, systems, processes and efforts must be connected—and they must be in line to create an omnichannel environment that is simple and seamless for everyone," Jawhar said. "With Business Chat, our call center representatives are empowered to share advice on which products to purchase. For example, if a customer reaches out about a malfunctioning refrigerator, the Lowe’s rep can determine if the product is still under warranty, and if it’s not, can recommend a similar option and even help schedule the delivery of the new refrigerator, based on the customer’s calendar which is synced with iMessage."

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In addition, Business Chat will give Lowe's customers another channel, freeing up sales associates to spend more time helping customers in stores.

Moving forward, the app will allow customers to complete a purchase using Apple Pay in the Messages app.