Google will expand its Business Messages feature in search and Google Maps to businesses of all types, enabling them to integrate the feature with their customer-service platforms.Senior product manager Jake Mintz said in a blog post that Google recently added elements including smart replies, visual product carousels and unique welcome messages to Business Messages, adding that the feature provides a smooth transition from automated replies to a customer-service agent.The Business Messages feature is currently available in English, with other languages to be added soon.Brands and messaging partners can sign up here for access to the Business Messages API (application-programming interface) and developer documentation, and a list of messaging partners currently on board is available here.Mintz shared examples of how Business Messages has already been used:Woolworths, Australia’s largest supermarket, enables customers to search for products and see their availability and locations within the store at their local outlets, as well as receiving updates on hours and Covid-19. Walmart is using the feature to give customers up-to-date information on store hours, options for pickup or delivery and safety precautions. MyGov teamed up with partner Amplify.ai to provide citizens in India with answers about hours, Covid-19 helplines and ways to volunteer and donate to the country’s 11,000-plus food and night shelters. Mattress Firm and messaging partner Podium sold mattresses directly via Business Messages by sharing videos and product information, despite stores being closed due to the pandemic. Dish and partner 7.ai slashed the average handle time for customer service by over 22% compared with other messaging channels. Mintz said Google is experimenting with more ways to highlight Business Messages on search, and it will also be made available on mobile websites so that businesses can add the ability to message directly from those sites.Hero, another Google messaging partner, is beta-testing the functionality with brands including Arhaus, Credo Beauty, John Hardy, Jonathan Adler and Oscar de la Renta.Founder Adam Levene said in a blog post, “From the beginning, Hero’s mission has been to make connecting with your local store as easy as messaging a friend. As shopping evolves in response to Covid-19, that mission is more important than ever before. Using Google’s Business Messages, Hero is giving consumers the confidence to come in-store by making it simple to check availability and stock ahead of time, ensuring that their trip is worry free.”
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