What is RCS messaging? Everything you need to know about the SMS successor
Every day, billions of people and thousands of businesses connect via text messaging. It’s a modern way to communicate that has actually been around for over 30 years. RCS (Rich Communications Services) is a next-generation SMS standard promoted by the GSMA, Google & Android, Samsung and many network operators and handset manufacturers.
SMS: The foundation of RCS
SMS has become an essential part of our lives. Cell phone owners send more text messages than they make phone calls. Businesses are also increasingly using SMS to support customers, solicit feedback and reward loyalty with special offers. In total, more than 15 million text messages are sent every minute. That’s 22 billion text messages per day.
Chat apps keep companies busy
SMS is not alone in its popularity. Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which each have 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 offer a user experience that builds on SMS and offers group chats, sending pictures, video, audio and a seemingly endless selection of emoticons.
The popularity of chat apps is perfect for businesses that want to connect with their customers in increasingly “immersive” ways. But the sheer number of different apps has made the landscape confusing. To pick up users in such a crowded messaging ecosystem, developers have to deal with different APIs, features and tools. Keeping up with this has proven difficult, time-consuming and, most importantly, costly.
RCS: The next generation of text messaging
In a nutshell, RCS make text messaging as interactive as WeChat, WhatsApp and other messaging apps while providing the reach of SMS and MMS. Rich features such as sending high-resolution photos and videos, directions, sharing locations, the ability to add and remove members from group chats, and more are delivered in a device’s default messaging app, regardless of which network the user is on.
Whether it’s person-to-person (P2P) messaging between friends or application-to-person (A2P) messaging for business, RCS is changing the way everyone communicates.
RCS Business Messaging takes A2P messaging even further
A2P messaging can be a little more complicated than messaging in a P2P context. To contact users through multiple messaging channels such as SMS or Facebook Messenger, developers previously had to deal with different APIs, app functions and display restrictions. RCS Messaging presented similar challenges. While it allowed companies to move beyond simple text messaging, it was costly and difficult to develop and deploy due to a lack of standardization. However, by coming together under the umbrella of the GSMA’s Universal Profile for RCS, carriers were able to cost-effectively deliver RCS messaging to businesses and help them reach more users than ever before.
RCS business messaging (the term used by the mobile industry for rich business-to-consumer messaging) helps businesses of all sizes benefit from creating truly branded conversations that are delivered across networks and to any device. This can include the delivery of digital concert tickets and boarding passes, high-definition videos and PDFs, product carousels where customers can browse and buy, and suggested responses and actions for straightforward A2P engagement.
In addition, RCS Business Messaging helps alleviate consumer fear of fraud by indicating that the delivered message is from a verified business sender. With real-time data on when messages were delivered and read, and whether recipients tapped into embedded apps, marketers can also know how messages are performing.
Business messaging increases customer trust and optimizes experiences
RCS business messaging offers businesses a better way to interact with their customers. According to a 2019 Conversocial survey, 75 % of consumers now prefer interacting with a business through private messaging channels over traditional channels. In this way, businesses can build trust with their customers by displaying expected wait times, answers to frequently asked questions, and the ability to connect with customer support. In addition, companies can optimize the customer experience by routing calls to personalized messaging channels and improve customer satisfaction with customer satisfaction score (CSAT) data and feedback.
What’s next for RCS?
Business marketers are already seeing some innovative and engaging ways to use RCS, and as with any new technology, enhancements to the platform will continue the momentum.
In this time of global lockdown, most of us have become very familiar with WhatsApp – first as a way to share memes (a combination of image and writing usually with an inside joke) on lockdown when it was a novelty, then as a vital connection to friends, family and work colleagues during isolation.
More and more brands and companies have also tried to connect with their (potential) customers via messaging channels. The interactivity, multimedia, ease of use and most importantly the fact that it works on all smartphones, some tablets and even desktops is proving to be very attractive to users and businesses alike.
A study by Mobilesquared shows that WhatsApp Business – the business version of the messaging service that offers brands all sorts of interactive benefits – is already the most popular business messaging service on the market, with 2 billion WhatsApp users worldwide.
The latest report, “WhatsApp Business Messaging Traffic & Spend Forecasts, by country & region (2019-24),” estimates that WhatsApp Business will see unprecedented growth of more than 5,400 % among medium and large businesses looking to use it to interact with consumers – from just 992 at the end of 2019 to nearly 55,000 in 2024.
Overall, the company predicts that brands and businesses will spend $3.6 billion on WhatsApp Business by 2024. Much of that will be “inbound” – people talking to brands, not the other way around, and so it’s likely to be a customer service tool. The use of WhatsApp is then for talking to a business about your order or complaining about something, booking an appointment – probably via video call in the foreseeable future, etc.
Hyandai India has already deployed WhatsApp for all customer support and uses WhatsApp Business to book a car service, provide service updates, send rich media content, send repair invoices and capture customer feedback. To build customer trust and allow them to verify that they are interacting with an official account, Hyundai uses a verified business profile on WhatsApp.
As an asynchronous channel – meaning consumers can send users messages to book something –WhatsApp Business is convenient for consumers and allows customer service representatives to handle more conversations at once.
Sudarshan Dharmapuri, EVP Products at IMImobile, which operates the system for Hyundai, said, “WhatsApp Business offers a new and more convenient way for consumers to communicate with brands. Hyundai recognizes the importance of leveraging newer, effective digital communication channels to enhance the customer experience and differentiate itself from its competitors. Conversational customer engagement, service and support represent a huge opportunity for businesses, now more than at any other time. We look forward to working with Hyundai to further optimize the customer experience.”
Why should you use WhatsApp to connect with your customers?
- Consumers’ preferred channel and the most popular messaging app in the world.
- Rich messaging features such as audio, file and image sending, rich links, location and contact sharing, automatic messaging and read receipts provide an enhanced messaging experience with more flexibility.
- Verified business accounts receive a green checkmark and official business account designation to reassure your customers that they are messaging with the right company.
- Free, easy to use and works over Wi-Fi or cellular data for added accessibility.
- End-to-end encryption provides an extra layer of security, giving consumers added assurance.
- Secure forms allow businesses to perform identification and authorization, share personally identifiable information (PII) to generate leads or complete a registration process during a conversation in a PCI-compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) environment.
- Post-conversation survey to gather feedback from consumers and measure success across messaging channels.
WhatsApp, however, is always in the spotlight due to its data privacy basis in Germany. In recent months, the company has also faced significant criticism after announcing new usage rules. With the update required for this, the company could share more data with the parent company Facebook. According to WhatsApp, however, this is a misunderstanding.
The parent company of WhatsApp also has its own Messenger. This can seamlessly tap into the millions of consumers who connect through Facebook. It’s easy to set up for businesses and allows employees to instantly make ongoing connections with valuable customers at scale.
Meet customers where they are.
The benefits of Facebook Messenger are:
- Rich messaging features – high-resolution photos, files, product carousels, rich cards, instant replies, GIFs, audio messages and more
- Improved indicators – read receipts and tip indicators show consumers when the employee is actively responding
- Easy bot integrations – brands can integrate their own bots into Facebook Messenger to provide service and sales support, with seamless transition to a human employee when needed
- Detailed reporting – with detailed performance metrics within the LivePerson platform.
- Secure forms – enable businesses to perform identification and authorization, share PII (Personally Identifiable Information) to generate leads, or complete a registration process during a conversation in a PCI-compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) environment
- Automatic messages – Send predefined messages about events that occur automatically in the conversation
- Post-conversation survey – Collect feedback from consumers and measure their success across all messaging channels
From Facebook Page Settings for Messaging, businesses can take advantage of the following features:
sends a response when a consumer first opens a conversation with your business in Messenger
allows you to send custom instant responses to anyone who sends your site a message.
displays SLAs (service level agreement) that you can customize yourself, e.g. typically replies within an hour
let customers know you’re offline but will respond shortly, e.g., “Hi, we’re not here right now, but we’ll get back to you shortly.”
The number of reasons to use Facebook Messenger for business continues to grow in 2021. At the top of the list is the fact that more than 1.5 billion people are actively using Facebook Messenger chat. However, less than 1 % of businesses engage with their audience through this channel.
The average open rate of business messages sent through Facebook Messenger is 70-80 %. Compared to 25-30 % for emails.
Therefore, Facebook Messaging represents a rare opportunity to engage with consumers through an untapped and highly engaging marketing channel. Messenger is also trending because it is compatible with another proven marketing strategy: Chatbots.
This year, it is possible to participate in the show either on-site or online. Almost all industries are represented at the MWC, from the energy sector to the automotive industry. The organizer expects 45,000 to 50,000 visitors. We are looking forward to an interesting exchange!