Bing has introduced a feature to local business search results that allows searchers to chat directly with the business. In the panel that contains the business information, there will now be a link to “Chat online with a representative”.
You can see what it looks like in action here via a screenshot shared by Jennifer Slegg. It appears that this feature is only available in US search results for the time being, considering I haven’t been able able to trigger it in my set of Canadian search results.
After clicking on the link to chat with a representative, you are then connected with the business via their chat program of choice. There’s nothing Bing-specific about this new feature, considering it relies on third party messaging tools — which could be anything from native chat functionality to Facebook Messenger.
The only thing Bing-specific about this new feature is that Google doesn’t currently offer anything similar. It once ran a test that allowed searchers to connect with businesses via Google Hangouts.
The test never turned into anything permanent, and the company has since shifted its focus away from Hangouts as an instant messaging tool in favor of its new app Google Allo. Perhaps one day we’ll see Allo integrated into Google search to keep up with Bing, but it’s far too early to speculate on anything like that.