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.
Google has confirmed this is now fully rolling out to businesses in the US and I am personally able to test it on businesses that I have access to under my Google My Business account.
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:
Postscript: A Google spokesperson has confirmed with Search Engine Land that this “feature is fully rolling out out now.”