What you need to know
- Google is adding new functionality to its Business Messages feature in Google Maps.
- Twice as many companies are using the service compared to last year.
- Business Messages is also now available in Google Search on Android.
Back in late-2018, Google Maps picked up a new feature that allowed you to directly message businesses for customer service inquiries. It was initially poked fun at for being yet another messaging service from Google, but it's since proved to be quite useful. Today, Google's expanding the functionality to be even better.
For starters, messaging a company via Google Maps now comes with a ton of extra features — specifically, smart replies, product carousels, and customizable welcome messages for customers. Even more important, businesses can integrate their existing customer service platforms with Google Maps chat (hopefully allowing for even greater adoption of the feature).
In addition to Google Maps, you'll also now be able to message a company directly from Google Search. This makes the barrier to the feature a lot lower, but for the time being it's limited to Android (iOS users will need to keep messaging from Maps).
Google also offered some insight as to how the Business Messages initiative is going, saying that twice as many businesses are using the feature compared to this time last year. It's been especially helpful given the state of retail in 2020, with a prime example being Mattress Firm. Even when its retail stores were closed, Mattress Firm was still able to sell mattresses over Business Messages by easily sending things like product info and videos to customers.
Dish has benefitted from the service, too, reporting about a 22% decrease in handle time for customer interactions compared to its other messaging platforms.
Business Messages is still only available in English, but Google says it plans on expanding support to other languages "soon."