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RCS Business Messaging – Rich, Digital, Personalized Customer Experiences

Every day, billions of people and thousands of businesses connect via text messaging, a modern way to communicate that’s actually been around for over 30 years. RCS(Rich Communications Services) is a next-generation SMS protocol being championed by the GSMA, Google & Android, Samsung, and many carriers and mobile phone manufacturers.

SMS: The Foundation of RCS

SMS has become an essential part of our lives. Users send more text messages than they make phone calls, and now, with an SMS function available in all mobile devices, usage among all age groups has skyrocketed. Businesses, too, increasingly rely on SMS to support customers, ask for feedback, and reward loyalty with special offers. All told, there are over 15 million texts sent every minute. That’s 22 billion SMS messages a day.

Because texting is so simple, and the messages are short by design, consumers love using SMS to engage with businesses. They don’t have to sit on hold, take time out of their day to visit a business in person, or wait long for an email to be responded to. They can fire off a quick message in between everything else they’re doing, and be assured to get a succinct reply in no time. Businesses also love the channel; in addition to the consumer preference for texting, there’s also its ubiquity, global reach, immediacy, and unrivalled open rates. Sure, email open rates are great at 20-30%.

But according to a Denmark study, email can’t compete with the 98% open rate that SMS enjoys. In fact, 90% of texts are read within 3 seconds, and nearly a third (29%) are responded to.

Chat Apps Keep Businesses Busy

SMS isn’t alone in its popularity. Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, each with over 1.2 billion users, compete in a crowded market with iMessage, WeChat, Slack, Skype, Viber, Android Messages, and many others. These free and low-cost messenger apps provide an experience that builds on SMS, offering group chat, image sharing, video, audio, and a seemingly endless range of emoticons. Once you’ve used one of these feature-rich apps, it’s easy to see why they’ve taken off.

The popularity of chat apps is perfect for businesses looking to engage with consumers in increasingly ’sticky’ ways. But the sheer number of different apps has fragmented the landscape. To support users across such a crowded messaging ecosystem, developers have to wrestle with variations in APIs, capabilities, and tooling. Keeping up has proven to be difficult, time-consuming, and — most important — costly.

RCS: The Next Generation of Text Messaging

Enter RCS, an upgrade to SMS through a universal standard known as Rich Communications Services. RCS, a platform that’s significantly more interactive and capable than today’s SMS, has been supported and promoted by the GSMA since 2008.

In short, RCS makes text messaging as engaging as WeChat, WhatsApp, and other messaging apps while providing the reach of SMS & MMS. Rich features like high-res photo and video sharing, mapping directions, location sharing, typing indicators, the ability to add and remove members to group chats, and so much more, are delivered to a device’s default messaging app irrespective of the network the user is on.

So whether it’s person-to-person (P2P) messaging between friends, or application-to-person(A2P) messaging used for business purposes, RCS is changing the way everyone communicates.

RCS Business Messaging Takes A2P Messaging Even Further

As you might imagine, A2P messaging can be a little more complicated than messaging in a P2P context. Previously, to support users across multiple messaging channels such as SMS or Facebook Messenger, developers found themselves grappling with variations in APIs, app capabilities, and display restrictions. RCS messaging posed similar challenges. While allowing businesses to move beyond basic texting, RCS messaging remained costly and difficult to develop and deliver due to a lack of standardization. But by coming together under the umbrella of the GSMA’s Universal Profile for RCS, carriers have cost-effectively provided RCS messaging to businesses and helped them engage more users than ever.

RCS Business Messaging (the term used by the mobile industry for rich business-to-consumer messages) helps organizations of all sizes benefit from creating truly branded conversations across networks and sent to any device. This can include delivery of things like digital concert tickets and boarding passes, hi-def video and PDFs, product carousels that consumers can browse and buy from, and suggested replies and actions for more straightforward A2P engagement.

In addition, RCS Business Messaging helps alleviate consumer fear-of-fraud, by indicating that the message delivered is from a verified businesses sender. It also lets marketers know how messages are performing with real-time data on when messages are delivered and read, and whether recipients have tapped on embedded app links.

Business Messages Increase Customer Trust and Optimize Experiences

RCS Business Messaging provides businesses with a better way to interact with their customers.  According to a survey by Conversocial  in 2019,  75% of consumers now prefer to engage with a brand over private messaging channels versus traditional channels. In this way businesses can build customer trust – by showing expected wait times, answers to frequently asked questions, and the option to connect with live help. In addition, businesses can optimize customers’ experiences, routing calls to personalized messaging and improving customer satisfaction with CSAT data and feedback.

Current Availability of RCS Business Messaging

Why is the mobile marketing world excited about RCS Business Messaging? To get a clear picture we need to go back a few years. In an attempt to bring rich messaging to its Android products, Google bought Jibe Mobile, a Cloud-based startup trying to make RCS work for businesses with a handful of carriers. Through Google, Jibe now connects carrier traffic to a universal RCS platform that works across many carriers (i.e., Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers, SK Telecom, Sprint, Telenor, T-Mobile, Vodafone, and others) and mobile device manufacturers (i.e., Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, HMD Global – Home of Nokia Phones, HTC, Kyocera, Lanix, Lava, LeEco, LG, Micromax, Motorola, MyPhone, QMobile, Sony, Symphony, Wiko, ZTE, as well Pixel and Android One devices among others).

Moving Forward: What’s Next For RCS?

Business marketers are already seeing some innovative and engaging ways for using RCS. And as with any new technology, enhancements to the platform will continue the momentum.

Here at Avenir, RCS Business Messaging has provided yet another dimension for our ability to enhance and enrich customer experiences and journeys using our Conversational AI expertise, and our game-changing Customer Experience(CX) platform Mishi.ai.

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