Google appears to be rolling out a messaging feature to Google My Business customers. Both Mike Blumenthal and @AnthonyCGuzman posted that they and their customers are starting to notice the feature within Google My Business. This is a feature Google began testing in November of last year.
I am personally able to test it on businesses that I have access to under my Google My Business account, so it does seem to be rolling out. We did email Google for a comment about this an hour or so ago but have yet to hear back by publishing time.
When you go to the Google My Business home page, you will see this new section for “Messaging” on the left and an option in the middle promoting it saying, “Message with customers.”
After you click on it the first time, you need to configure the mobile number of the Allo device you want it to connect to.
Then, after you verify the number, it lets you set up an autoreply to customers who use the feature:
Now, once it is set up, when someone sees your company’s local panel in mobile search, they will see a “message” icon, which they can click:
On iOS, it takes the customer to their native messaging app and lets them message the business:
Then the business owner gets a message in Allo or their native messaging app so they can respond:
Again, we have emailed Google to confirm the rollout and find out if it is happening globally, in the US or for certain businesses only.