According to research from GfK MRI, 68% of consumers - and more than 83% of millennials - said that they text more than they talk on their smartphones. Consumers use Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, KakaoTalk, Line, WeChat, and more to chat with family and friends.
But where did text messaging start? Cell phones with a telephone keypad. This changed with smartphones and digital QWERTY keyboards. Even though the text input method evolved, text messaging stayed the same on smartphones.
A new communication standard called Rich Communication Services (RCS) is going to replace SMS/MMS. GSMA states that there are 55 wireless carriers, 11 OEMs, and two operating system providers (Google and Microsoft) who are all committed to supporting RCS.
RCS uses features, many available in popular messaging apps, and integrates them into text messaging. These features will enable brands to interact with customers outside of apps and communicate directly within a text message thread.
How is RCS better?
Text messaging is the ground floor of RCS. The new standard will also support sending high quality photos, videos and GIFs. You will be able to share large files, something lacking with existing SMS. Read receipts will be included along with real-time message typing notifications.
Essentially it’s messaging that will meet the needs for modern communication. RCS is also cross-carrier, meaning that messages will “interoperate cleanly between carriers.” Android owners will have a similar messaging experience as iPhone owners. Apple’s iMessage has many RCS features, but doesn’t support the standard yet. Apple is in discussions to integrate RCS into the iMessage platform.
Wireless carriers have agreed to support RCS, but the rollout has been slow. This is because companies involved need to adopt an industry-agreed set of features and technical requirements for RCS known as Universal Profile. Companies must follow these standards to make sure that consumers are receiving the same RCS experience on any supported device.
Universal Profile includes:
- Multi-device messaging
- Group chat with up to 100 people
- File sharing (100MB limit)
- Read receipts
- Location sharing
- Video sharing
- and more
What is the benefit for brands?
RCS will make it easier for brands to interact with customers outside of apps. RCS Business Messaging allows businesses to integrate chatbots and artificial intelligence in communications. Businesses will be able to present native experiences and offer an app-like experience within the text message platform.
There are different use cases for RCS and when wireless carriers rollout support, text messaging may become a preferred support platform. Many businesses use text for notifications, but RCS will make the channel more useful.
Airlines use text check-in reminders and flight status notifications, but customers are directed to the mobile web or an app. With RCS, airlines could send a check-in reminder and the traveler could check-in through the message thread and get their boarding pass. Travelers could receive flight notifications and speak with an agent about delays directly all without leaving the text message thread.
Retailers could use RCS to communicate with customers regarding orders via text. Customer support would already have order information in the conversation. If there’s a problem, the chat history would provide context to the agent, reducing total issue handle time.
Customer support gains huge advantages with RCS. As more customers prefer text to voice calls, RCS will give the ability to present a native and modern brand experience. RCS customer support will improve communication, instead of the current experience of blocks of text and disruptive URL links, leading to lower resolution times.
RCS will enable brands to have real-time conversations with customers. The ability to share large photo and video files will help agents visually understand issues without worrying about compression and image degradation.
RCS is text evolution
RCS won’t replace apps for customer service, instead it will supercharge the text channel. SMS/MMS is an old standard that doesn’t match the needs of modern consumers. Messaging apps have already shown how modern messaging needs to work. RCS is the solution for text messaging and brands should look to develop this channel to engage customers from day one.