HSBC offers customer service through Apple Messages app

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HSBC customers with an affinity for Apple products can now contact customer service as easily as if they were texting a friend.

On Monday, HSBC Bank USA announced the addition of Apple Business Chat to its suite of customer service channels. Apple Business Chat lets companies and their customers interact over Apple’s Messages app on their iPhones, iPads or Macbooks, as long as they are using iOS 11.3 or higher.

Currently, around 70% of HSBC’s customers are iOS users of some sort, said Marcus Malcolm, head of staff digital solutions at HSBC Bank USA.

During the pandemic, “a lot of our customers are experiencing some level of turmoil or hardship, or just have questions,” said Malcolm. “When we were thinking about the best way to meet our customers where they are at, we saw that the iMessage tool is something most of us use every day.”

Conversational banking was already a hot topic at the bank, with its own live messaging service growing in popularity compared with phone calls.

But as customer queries increased during the pandemic, HSBC Bank accelerated its rollout of Apple Business Chat and has seen adoption double every couple of weeks, on average, since its quiet launch on April 22.

There are a few ways that Apple-equipped customers can initiate contact. The most common method is through Chat Suggest (available on iOS 13 or higher), which will prompt the user to send a message rather than make a phone call when they start dialing.

Alternatively, customers can start a messaging thread through Siri, Apple Maps (when an HSBC location pops up) and Apple Spotlight by initiating a search for HSBC locations.

Once customers decide to message HSBC rather than place a call, they can choose from a menu of options to route their message to the proper agent, such as COVID-19 Account Concerns, Existing Checking/Savings/CD or Online Banking/Mobile App Help.

Unlike with a phone call or a web-based chat session, customers won’t be tied to one spot waiting for an agent to respond. “You can come in and out of the conversation if you choose to keep that thread open,” said Katie Jenkins, head of direct banking at HSBC Bank USA. “You’ve always got that direct line to your banker.”

Another advantage to capturing the conversation in a texting-like thread is that a new representative dropping in can quickly catch themselves up on the situation by reading the history. If a customer wants to end contact, they can delete the thread.

LivePerson, a cloud-based platform that helps companies with conversational artificial intelligence, will facilitate interactions between the customer and agents through Messages by passing queries that customers send through Apple Business Chat to the customer service agent.

“As we think ahead to where the world of customer service is heading, it’s conversational banking,” said Jenkins. “It’s making a conversation with your bank as easy as having a text message conversation with a friend.”

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Digital banking Digital Banking 2020 HSBC Apple