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Google is rolling out a handful of updates to its Google My Business app today that are designed to make it easier for business owners to connect with customers.

By way of a quick recap, back in 2014 the internet giant launched Google My Business as a free service that lets businesses manage their online information as it appears in Google Search and Maps, including opening hours, contact details, photos, and reviews. Last year, Google introduced a new feature that let businesses edit their listings directly from within Google Search.

This latest update, which is rolling out to businesses on Android and iOS from today, includes access to a quick Post button, which offers an easy way to add photos, special offers, and other new information to a business profile.

Above: Google My Business: One-tap to create a new post

Arguably more useful, however, is the new Customers tab that provides an easier way to connect with, well, customers.

Follow and message

Last month, Google introduced a new way for people to “follow” a business — such as their favorite coffee shop or boutique retailer — through Google Maps. This feature brings Google Maps closer to something like a social network, and the new Customers tab in Google My Business has a section that shows all of a company’s followers in one place.

Related to this, new Posts that businesses add to their profile appear in their followers’ For You tab in Google Maps, highlighting how Google My Business is being pitched as a way for companies to foster a community around their business.

Above: Google My Business: Customer tab

The Customers tab also features dedicated sections for Reviews, where businesses can respond to comments made, and Messages.

Last year, Google started rolling out a new messaging feature in the U.S. as an extra channel for customers to contact businesses, in addition to the existing telephone call feature in Maps and Search. Until now, messaging has been limited to the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and India, but from next week the feature will be landing globally.

This means that millions more people around the world will be able to text you questions about your company, on both Android and iOS devices, rather than having to call.  But more than that, businesses can now respond to messages from within the Google My Business app, rather than needing to have an SMS-enabled phone on hand to deal with requests.

Above: Messaging in Google

Ultimately, this update is indicative of how people use the internet these days, as many are more accustomed to messaging than calling. Beyond the reduced friction for users, businesses themselves garner easier access to everything they need from inside a single mobile app.

“When we built the Google My Business app, we wanted to make it easier for small businesses like you to take advantage of that opportunity, and turn those searchers into your customers,” said Google My Business engineering manager Curtis Galloway, in a blog post.

Tying in with this, the Google My Business profile page home screen now displays data pertaining to your business listing, such as how many views, searches, and actions have taken place over the past month.

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