Responding to Customers

It’s important that conversations with customers feel personal and meaningful. You can accomplish this by using an informal tone and following some best practices.

Live Agents

Make an introduction. Always introduce live agents when a conversation begins, after transferring a customer to a new agent.

Limit conversations to a single agent at a time. Individual senders aren’t visibly identified in the conversation. If another agent is needed, ask for permission to transfer the customer.

Make sure transfers between agents are smooth. The customer should never be forced to start again or re-explain an issue. After transferring the customer to another agent, the new agent should resume the existing conversation where the previous agent stopped.

Automated Messaging

Clearly identify automated agents. In Apple Messages for Business, automated messaging often refers to a welcome greeting performed by a bot. Automated messaging shouldn't be confused with a bot solution that employs a list picker or some other interactive to help a customer triage their problem using a string of questions. Auto-respond to first message in a new conversation should be provided within 5 seconds. When the customer starts a conversation with an automated system, provide a message like “This is an automated agent.” or “I'm an automated agent.”

Allow switching from an automated to a live agent. A live agent must be reachable anytime the customer texts the word help. If a customer sends help outside of normal customer service hours when live agents aren’t available, an automated response should let them know when a live agent is able to respond. Additionally, if an automated agent doesn’t understand a request, the agent must seamlessly transition to a live agent after displaying a message like “I'm routing your message to a live agent to better assist you.”

Live agent should introduce themselve when taking over a conversation from an automated agent.

Triage Customers

When a customer contacts your brand using Messages for Business, the fastest way to get them to their destination is to provide a list of simple questions, commonly referred to as triaging. You can refer to your use case template to determine which questions are the most asked, and then put together a list of yes or no questions that lead to more questions. Once your list is complete, work with your Messaging Service Provider (MSP) to design a list picker. This style of questioning should aid you in sending your customer to the appropriate group, if necessary. The following is an example of triage questions:

  • Are you having a problem with a product? (Y/N)

    • Select the type of product you're contacting us about: (Product selection)
      • Provide troubleshooting questions on the selected product.
  • Are you having a problem with delivery? (Y/N)

    • Do you have a deliver tracking number?
      • Please enter the number:

Triage questioning can be as simple or as in-depth as you need, but for a better customer experience, try to keep them simple. In some cases, the end result may lead the customer to a live agent. In most cases, the triage menu can provide solutions to the customers problem.

Creating Great Responses

Use familiar, understandable words and phrases. Avoid acronyms or technical terms that might cause confusion.

Use images. An image often provides immediate clarity for something that’s complex or otherwise requires extensive discussion. When asking a customer to choose a product, for example, you can make the choice easier by showing product photos. When a customer reports physical damage to an item, ask for a photo so they don’t have to spend time describing the damage.

Provide assurance that you can help. For example, when a customer asks about a product, you might respond with “I see that you’re asking about [Product Name]. How may I help you with it?”

Don't ask for previously provided information. Agents can access the entire conversation history, including previous responses and recent transactions, so there should be no need to ask a customer to repeat information.

Respond quickly and appropriately to actionable requests. Certain keywords provide enough information for you to take action without asking for more input.

Keywords Action
agent, support, help Transfer to a live agent.
menu, list View a menu or list of available items.
unsubscribe, spam, stop, end Turn off notifications.
settings, preferences Display messaging options or preferences.

Set expectations when you can’t respond immediately. If an immediate response isn’t possible, thank the customer for the message and give an estimated wait time. Customers waiting for a live agent should never wait more than five minutes for an update on their position in the queue. If a customer sends a message after hours when live agents aren’t available, an automated response should let them know when a live agent is able to respond.

Respond only to active conversations. When a customer ends a conversation, they shouldn’t receive additional messages unless they initiate a new conversation.

Offer further assistance before ending a conversation. After addressing a customer’s issue, ask if you can help with anything else.


Ask for permission before enrolling a customer in notifications. Don’t assume people always want notifications. When a customer opts into notifications, explain how to opt out in the future. For example, you could send a response that says “You’re now signed up for order status notifications. Send ‘unsubscribe’ at anytime to turn off notifications.” Make sure your opt-out process is straightforward and easy to remember.

Support standard subscribe and unsubscribe actions. When the customer texts subscribe or unsubscribe, you should enable or disable notifications accordingly, or present a way to change subscription options.

Use a list picker or quick replies to enable changes to settings. If you offer messaging options or preferences, present them in a list of choice at the customer’s request; for example, when the customer texts the word settings, preferences, subscribe, or unsubscribe.

Best Practices

We recommend these best practices for businesses to ensure a positive customer experience.

Label list and time pickers appropriately. Provide appropriate titles to the list and time pickers so customers are clear on the contents of the pickers.

Add a thumbnail image to list and time pickers Provide a recognizable thumbnail image to list and time pickers so customer are clear on recognizing it is a tappable item.

Use iMessage apps to enhance customer experience. Analyze the top reasons why customers contact your business and convert resolutions that require a transaction or a workflow to an app experience using custom iMessage apps with your primary iOS app. Not only does this offer a great customer experience, it promotes your app to your customers.

Prompt customers on next steps after installing iMessage apps. When customers receive a link to install an iMessage app, they should be prompted on next steps to remind them to tap the bubble to launch the app.

Handle message routing using intent and group IDs. Businesses can work with MSPs to populate intent and group ID parameters and build business rules to route messages to appropriate groups.

End your conversation with a customer by asking if there is anything else you can do to help. After helping a customer, the agent should always end conversations by asking if they can be of further assistance.

Satisfaction Surveys

Once you complete an interaction with a customer, you may want to provide them with a customer service satisfaction (CSAT) survey. Typically, CSAT surveys are randomly provided at the end of both digital and agent experiences. For a better customer experience, provide the CSAT surveys after the experience and not after every FAQ.

Work with your MSP to design a list picker CSAT survey to send your customers. For ideas, refer to CSAT survey design and code samples.

Authentication and Apple Pay

Messages for Business allows authentication information to safely pass between customers and brands on your MSPs platform using authentication endpoints. When a customer purchases services or good from your business through Messages for Business, the customer can use Apple Pay, an easy and secure way to make the payment.

You can work with your MSP to set up both options for your customers.