When you think of one of the most useful services of mobile communication, it’s hard to top text messaging. Its ease of use, availability on every mobile device, and reliability of delivery make it a universal channel that everyone can use to communicate. At Syniverse, we’ve had the fortune to play a vital role in text messaging’s development since it became available almost three decades ago, and we’re now excited to help begin a bold new era with this service.
Rich Communication Services, or RCS, is the next generation of text messaging that is just reaching fruition, and it promises to revolutionize messaging as we know it. In particular, this technology will open a new world of ways for brands to connect with customers. Rich features like high-resolution photos and videos, payment options, mapping directions, and location sharing tools are just a few of the richer, more engaging features that brands will be able to take advantage of to create truly branded conversations with any device.
Syniverse has been closely involved in helping both mobile operators and brands prepare for rich business messaging, and as part of this, we developed our latest webinar on this topic, “The Power of RCS Takes the Experience of Messaging to the Next Level,” which I invite you to watch a recording of below.
The session, which I moderated, built on our two previous webinars, “Are you ready to monetize 5G and Mobile IoT roaming?” and “Monetizing for 5G: New frontiers for Mobile,” and continued our webinar series that will also feature a number of new sessions this year.
Key Webinar Takeaways and RCS Opportunities in 2020
While RCS was chosen as the standard to replace traditional text messaging over a decade ago – enabling phones’ default messaging app to compete with the likes of Facebook Messenger with integrated calling, video, and multimedia capabilities – it took a long time for mobile operators to begin putting RCS into practice. Recently, though, a number of major operators finally agreed to a new standard for RCS, and Google has rolled out the technology on Android phones.
RCS will offer a number of improvements for the general consumer, including adding to the reach and reliability of traditional text messaging with new advanced media features similar to WhatsApp and WeChat. However, the most interesting functionality for RCS will be on the business side. Here’s a look at some of the most important ones we touched on during the webinar, and the ones we think offer the most promise to brands in 2020.
According to the research firm Forrester, “By 2020, customer service is predicted to overtake product and price as the No. 1 way for a business to differentiate itself.” Without a doubt, customer service is one of the most important ways that businesses affect how consumers perceive their brand – but it can also be one of the most expensive. RCS, however, will allow companies to both improve their service while also driving down costs, since RCS enables the easy automation of customer conversations, like FAQ-type questions, that usually result in expensive calls to a live agent. In this way, a lot of brands are excited about RCS messaging because it will open a new world of possibilities for businesses to connect with customers. To help put this in perspective, self-service support is measured in pennies rather than the average $7 for a live agent call, and, by 2023, it’s predicted that more than 2.5 billion hours will be saved by businesses and consumers, according to Juniper Research and the Harvard Business Review.
Another area of customer service that offers great promise for RCS is chatbots. Although customer service representatives will never be able to be completely replaced, RCS will be able to relieve a lot of pressure from call centers that use chatbots. RCS is a perfect channel to support chatbots, which can be trained to offer support for the most common questions that customers may encounter. Instead of waiting for an operator to be free, a customer can text a company and receive immediate assistance. This efficient approach makes sure that smaller problems can be handled by an algorithm, and that human representatives can concentrate on solving more serious problems.
Live Delivery Tracking
Beyond customer service, RCS offers customers who want to track their deliveries the capability to just send a text and receive a reply with all the delivery information – instantly. Retailers can share anything from a live tracker, to buttons with options to reschedule the delivery, to an option to choose a safe place to leave a package. And it can all be done within the native messaging app, with branded graphics, and without users having to follow links or open any other app.
Coupons and Vouchers
Redeeming discount codes will also become easier. With the capability to share high-quality pictures, RCS will allow retailers to bring products to life in a way impossible right now. For improved conversion, retailers can send QR codes with discounts directly through RCS. This will make redemption much simpler and promise to dramatically increase conversion. Instead of relying on third-party apps to download and access coupons, retailers can keep customers engaged in their own digital space, building a closer, more direct relationship with them.
RCS also offers revolutionary capabilities in another area. Payment options are becoming a new standard for shoppers, driven by tap-and-pay convenience. Taking advantage of this capability as a wallet, while also reassuring shoppers about the security of the transaction, will be a game-changer for brands. Until recently, these transactions have been provided by third parties, like PayPal or Apple Wallet, but with RCS, retailers can own the transaction directly without the need to redirect to third-party platforms. This will bring the customer even closer to a 360-degree experience and foster even more loyalty. Moreover, as an extension of mobile payments, RCS can enable one-click repeat purchasing for everyday items such as contact lenses, and it can also be used to offer promotions on related products, like lens cleaning fluid. Upselling and repeat selling can form the nucleus of a longer-term strategy.
Like almost no other channel, text messaging has been one of the mobile’s most popular services and biggest success stories. Now, though, RCS is coming and will soon become the new standard for today’s mobile customer experience. And now is the time that both mobile operators and businesses need to begin preparing for this new age of customer service in which interactions will become more direct and personalized.
We’re excited about what lies in the future for RCS, and we’re positioned to play a central role in this future. We look forward to building on our “The Power of RCS Takes the Experience of Messaging to the Next Level” webinar with future sessions, and we hope you’ll stay tuned for updates on more webinars this year right here on the Syniverse Blog.
Mathias Muehlfelder is a Senior Director of Product Management and works at Syniverse’s Luxembourg office.