OpenMarket – November 30, 2017
Rich Communications Services (RCS) has the potential to transform how brands communicate with customers. Its similarities with SMS make it a natural fit, but RCS can do so much more…
Think of RCS as a text message, but on steroids. Or as a powerful messaging app that users never need to download or update. And from the business end, it slots into your existing SMS platform, while providing much better analytics. That’s why brands known for their hot CX have begun using RCS to communicate with their customers.
Let’s be honest: a big step forward in customer communications is long overdue.
Granted, email serves it’s purpose in the right context, but most times, customers just don’t read them. Apps can look great, but unless you throw serious money at them, they rarely nail the expected functionality.
And then there’s SMS, which is fast, personal, inexpensive and gets read immediately, but… don’t you just wish it could do a little bit more?
Enter RCS. It has all the advantages of SMS, but packs some of the design and interactivity of an app (without the hefty price tag, updates and downloads). And while it lets you make the most of your customers’ smartphones, any Android phone with SMS functionality can receive one.
Quite simply, it’s going to be huge.
But despite the similarities to SMS, this isn’t a basic text message. It’s SMS 2.0.
RCS is gathering pace
We’re not going to lie: for the first few years it existed, RCS didn’t really take off as a customer communication channel. But now, everything’s changed. Several telcos and major brands and have come on board, and RCS is ready for the big time.
And it’s an ideal moment. While enterprise use of SMS is still growing, brands are looking for greater functionality. In research by Ovum, 94% of respondents said they’d use an enhanced SMS service, that could rich communications such as images and videos.
RCS: like SMS…but supercharged
Countless brands the world over use SMS because of its ability to provide critical information, at exactly the right moment (something we call an Empathetic Interaction). But there’s only so much you can do with words and hyperlinks. With RCS, the only limit is your imagination.
Picture this: Jane is an engineer who repairs damaged machinery. When she got a job notification by SMS, her daily schedule of repairs took a lot of planning, and a lot of her time.
Now Jane receives an RCS alert to a broken machine. It gets added directly to her calendar. It also contains geolocation data, meaning she can drive straight to it (because her phone doubles up as a Satnav). And because the message contains high-resolution photos, she can assess the damage before she arrives, so she always arrives with the right parts.
And Jane’s favorite bit about RCS? It’s all in one platform – no need to open a separate email, browser or app – just like when she was using SMS. But now she has all the information she needs, in just one place.
(If you’d like to see a real-world example, Samsung’s ARTIK Internet of Things platform is brilliant.)
Everything in one place
Think about the texts you send to your customers. Yes, they can contain a load of important information, and they support two-way communication. But what happens when you need your customers to do more than just reply, like rescheduling an appointment, saving a ticket, or checking into a flight?
The last thing a customer wants to do is navigate away from their message to a website or app – and if they don’t have 4G, they’re going to hit a brick wall regardless.
But with RCS, there’s no need to link to websites, apps, email clients or anything external. Your customers have everything they need, right there in their message inbox.
And with pre-set message buttons, they can easily converse with your brand, or even a chatbot…
Intelligent, automated, 2-way conversations
When your customer contacts you, they want to know they’ve been heard – which is one of the reasons so many still prefer a phone call or online chat to sending an email. With RCS, customers can be reassured that their message is being dealt with. Delivery and read receipts, and real-time updates allow customers to feel in control, without the need for additional emails or phone calls.
And if you still want to talk? No problem. By leaving audio clips on an RCS message (just like WhatsApp or iMessage), you can have a vocal interaction with customers, without leaving them waiting on hold. Say goodbye to customer churn.
And what’s more, you’ll no longer need to guess how your customers feel about their interactions with your brand – the data will tell you straight away.
Metrics your data-junkies will drool over
Can you ever imagine a dimension where SMS gives you website-standard analytics data? With RCS, it’s right there. Juicy behavioral insights that’ll keep you improving your execution. It feels like your customers are doing the work for you (almost).
You can test and learn, and see what works, and what doesn’t. And with each improvement you make, you’re improving your CX. But unlike an app, you can say goodbye to fiddly version updates.
And guess what? RCS is a developed standard, meaning you can send messages across multiple mobile operators and connect directly to your CRM, or any back-office tool. Everyone’s a winner.
Everything you love about SMS… and then some
As platform adoptions go, nothing will likely ever come close to SMS. Even the number of WhatsApp users on the planet (one billion) doesn’t come close to the number who use SMS (five billion).
So when you think about the next big thing for your CX, why try and reinvent the SMS wheel? Just make it better. And with backing from the GSMA, Samsung and Google, you can be assured that RCS will soon be universally available.