Google Business Messages Can Power Sales Or Customer Service
Google has announced a significant upgrade for Business Messaging across Google surfaces.
Google rolled out messaging via Google My Business in 2017, giving searchers the ability to message and interact with organisations directly from search engine results.
The feature was then further extended to Google Maps in 2018, as Google looked to better integrate the Maps and Google My Business for local Search.
Since 2018, Google has made minor tweaks and updates to messaging. However, with messaging and Google My Business rising to prominency in the post COVID era, both were probably due a more serious upgrade.
Business Messages has really started to gain momentum in the past year, according to Google, with twice as many businesses messaging via Google now compared to last year.
Jake Mintz, Senior Product Manager, Business Messages, Google
"Today we're expanding Business Messages in Maps and Search to support all kinds of businesses, and giving them the ability to integrate Business Messages directly with their customer service platforms.
Business Messages provides brands a comprehensive messaging solution across Android devices, and through Maps on iOS."
To improve connections with customers, Google has recently introduced new smart replies, visual product carousels, and unique welcome messages.
There's also a smoother transition from automated replies to a customer service agent, so that it's not as disruptive when the customer messages a business.
Chatting On Search, Maps, Websites & Beyond
Woolworths and US retail giant Walmart were among the first to try the updated Business Messages experience to make customer care more effective and efficient, particularly during COVID-19.
Woollies allows customers to search for products and see availability and aisle information at their local store, plus get details about hours and COVID-19 related updates to make shopping easier.
Google is also currently experimenting with more ways to highlight this communications tool on Search.
Business Messages will also be available on mobile websites so that a business can add the ability for customers to quickly "Message" right from their site and offer the same smart, automated replies, paired with live agent connection.
Similar in principle to the Customer Chat feature which Facebook introduced back in 2017.
Facebook's equivalent website Chat Plugin automatically loads recent chat history between a user and your business, meaning recent interactions with your business on messenger.com, in the Messenger app, or in the Chat Plugin on your website will be visible.
Something, from a user experience perspective, that would be maybe challenging for Google to mimic. While Google Maps now has a Messages section within the app, users are hardly familiar.
Sounds Good, But…
The historically siloed nature of Google products, and its persistent failure to nail a consumer-facing social or messaging app, makes it hard to imagine to consumers "getting" how and where this all comes together.
Yes, I can message Woolies from Maps, Search and probably their website in time, but where do the responses go? And, if I send Woolies a message via Search (i.e. Google My Business), do I really want to pick up that thread within Google Maps? Isn't Maps just for plotting my route to the airport?
The benefit Facebook has, by comparison, is a very popular, easy to understand and centralised messaging offering. Creating a more intuitive experience for users, enabling your business to continue the conversation wherever the user wants, within the same conversation thread in Messenger.
Sounds fabulous, doesn't it?
But, which sane business REALLY wants to get EVEN MORE into bed with Facebook…
Here's a long list of global brands no longer drinking the Facebook Kool-aid, even if it is short-lived.
There's a probably a Dry July gag in there somewhere. But no-one in the SMK team is witty enough to work it out.
Brands and messaging partners can sign up to access the Business Messages API and developer documentation.
Google also has partners such as Khoros, LivePerson and Zendesk ready to help organisations optimise their messaging flow with engaged customers. Businesses can also still manage messaging through Google My Business.
Messaging is an optional feature within Google My Business and turned off by default. So businesses not interested in receiving messages, or that cannot keep up with them, need not worry overly.
However, for those who wish to enable messaging, you can do so from the Google My Business dashboard.