TechCrunch and SEL are reporting Google testing of a live chat button appearing on business’s local Knowledge Panel.
This program is apparently part of a test with a limited number of businesses. It has been around at least since mid November when an invitee asked me about problems he was having with the test.
Here is the copy of the email that he had received from Google around mid November inviting him to participate in the test:
Google Testing Hangout Chats in Local by Mike Blumenthal
Use Hangouts with your Google+ page
Google Hangouts can make it easier for your customers to reach out to your business with a Hangouts chat message. When customers are looking for you on Google Maps or Search, they’ll find a button to chat with you.
This feature is currently limited to a small number of business that have been invited to test it. Opting-in to this feature will allow customers to chat with you by changing the “customize invites” setting for your business. If you don’t want to participate in the trial anymore, you can opt out in settings for your business in Hangouts.