RCS Messaging: new features and technology that is expected to change SMS forever
As the name suggests, Rich Communication Services Messaging is designed to take SMS to a whole new level. It is equipped with more features such as in-call multimedia, phonebook polling (for service discovery) and much more. The need for RCS messaging stems from the limited features SMS has to offer. SMS messaging does not support features such as read receipts, group conversations, animated stickers and also has a specific character limit while other texting apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger offer much more. Despite these limitations, SMS is still the most widely used application worldwide which is why developers aim to ‘enrich’ its texting abilities.
RCS Messaging can prove to be very useful for businesses in the retail industry. Technology has increased customer engagement in the buying process, and customer preferences have become much more important than they used to be. They expect 24 hours, responsive and fast services – be it through SMS or any other medium. ‘RCS will upgrade today’s business experience by enabling brands to send more useful and interactive messages. For example, a message from your airline reminding you to check in for a flight can now take advantage of rich media and interactivity to provide a full check-in experience, complete with a boarding pass, visual flight updates, and terminal maps on demand, all directly within the messaging experience’– Google. The 3 main features that RCS messaging provides over SMS are expanded message size, expanded character set and most importantly, improved status reporting i.e. knowing when a message is sent, delivered, read and when the recipient is responding (similar to that of apps such as iMessage). A more interactive user experience such as this will inevitably lead to a positive image of the business in the mind of the customer.
RCS Messaging provides much more than just these basic features. It supports group chats, location sharing, high-resolution photos and other similar features that social media apps support. The best part about RCS is that it requires no downloading and is tied simply to a user’s phone number since it is an inbuilt app within phones. RCS is still a newly introduced product (from 2018), with developers working to improve and enhance the features that it has to offer.
Statistics are also in favor of RCS as an evolution of SMS service for customers. CLX states that 86% of businesses were attracted to RCS because branding is shown to customers as the sender ID was far more effective than a shortcode or phone number. 89% of businesses showed an interest in RCS because it enabled automated and conversational interaction with customers. This is similar to the feature Facebook has introduced in Messenger, where businesses can send automated messages to customers which comes in handy because they are not always able to respond instantly. Moving on to customers perceptions of RCS, research showed that 83% of respondents were attracted to RCS as it enabled location services making messages more relevant and dynamic. Lastly, 61% of respondents were also attracted to RCS’s ability to integrate payments with a ‘buy now’ option to make transactions directly from the message itself.