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All you need to know
about RCS

Rich Communication Services (RCS) with over 700 MM+ subscribers across the globe is accelerating to the top. However, despite its burgeoning growth, RCS is still a “novel technology” to many. But, with this guide, we aim to satisfy every curiosity you have. This is all you need to take your first step towards understanding this new and game-changing business messaging avenue.

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Introduction

Ready to add another dimension to your business messaging strategy and take it to the next level? Rich Communication Services (RCS) is the future of messaging technology, providing enterprises and brands with a powerful tool to engage with customers. With its visually appealing interface, and rich and advanced functionalities, RCS creates an immersive customer experience that can help businesses establish two-way branded communication and build stronger customer relationships in the SMS inbox.

The benefits of RCS are already being realized by various industries, including banking and finance, e-commerce platforms, ride-sharing services, and major retailers, which are seeing impressive results in customer engagement.
In this guide, we answer the most pertinent questions regarding RCS. Read to learn more.

What is RCS?

RCS is an IP-based messaging service available on Android smartphones in the Google Messages app via carrier networks. RCS leverages the global reach of SMS with interactive and rich chat features similar to OTT messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram, delivering a compelling and engaging user experience.

Business communication over RCS is called RCS Business Messaging (RBM). This can include both A2P and P2A communication. With RBM, brands can leverage multiple rich functionalities like suggested action buttons, click-through delivery, location sharing, high-res videos, images, audio, and gifs, delivering engaging and interactive customer experience without worrying about security or privacy.

What’s more, a user experiences all these features within its native messaging environment – their SMS inbox, eliminating the hassle of downloading another app in an already app-fatigued world.

RCS is an extension of SMS. It is not a new communication channel, so the transition is seamless. As per Juniper Research, the RCS subscriber base is set to expand from 1.2 billion to 3.8 billion by 2026. A growth of 200%, accounting for over 40% of mobile subscribers worldwide.

 

Why is RBM a game changer for brands and enterprises?

The growing acceptance of RCS bears good news for brands and enterprises looking to take advantage of this new business messaging platform. With its following rich set of capabilities, RCS can help brands grab customer attention in their very own SMS inbox delivering customer delight.

Verification and better branding

With RBM, verified business trust marks replace random numbers or acronyms in text conversations, increasing consumer confidence in the authenticity of the brand. Furthermore, each message wears your brand logo and color, helping you leverage your branding and making you stand out in your customers’ SMS inbox.

Enhanced conversational capabilities

With RBM, brands can deliver a truly conversational experience with pre-configured replies and suggested actions.

– Suggested replies: Brands can offer suggested replies to a particular query, reducing the time required by users to type, and improving query resolution and response time.

– Suggested actions: With suggested actions, customers can quickly complete any task that leverages the functionalities of the device. For instance, an ‘Add to Calendar’ suggested action button under flight detail communication by an airline will add the flight details to the device’s default calendar. Similarly, there are action buttons like share or view location, open a URL, or dial a number that brands can incorporate as per their use case.

These replies can be set in a chip list or buttons that appear as a horizontal set of buttons above the user’s reply box that simplify the customer journey, leading to faster and more efficient interactions.

Rich card and carousels

Using rich cards, brands can include text, images, videos, suggested replies, and suggested action buttons in a single message. This helps brands enhance the user experience by providing all necessary details about a use case in one go rather than an interrupted and broken back and forth.

Carousels are a collection of rich cards which are horizontally scrollable. It usually includes a title, subtitle, image, and suggested action and reply buttons. Using these features, brands can showcase a catalog of their products or services.

– Deeper analytical insights: RBM offers valuable and detailed analytical data and metrics, including read receipts, click-through rates, and response time, enabling businesses to gain deeper insights into their customers and tailor their marketing strategy accordingly.

– Advanced automation: RBM allows for the integration of AI-powered chatbots that can handle simple queries and automate simple tasks, freeing up live agents for more complex inquiries. This not only helps reduce response time and improve query resolution but also help businesses reduce cost and get better ROI.

– Safe, secure, and fraud-proof: As per the GSMA, RCS Universal Profile Standard, every RBM sender has to be verified and authenticated by RCS service providers, making it a secure and safe channel. This ensures that customers are protected from fraud, duplicity, and phishing, making them feel comfortable about sharing personal information in banking and legal use cases.

With so much to offer, there is no doubt why RBM has received positive feedback from consumers. 79% of consumers find its benefits appealing and 74% of consumers state that it would make them more likely to communicate with a brand.

RBM Use Cases

One of the many advantages of RBM is its versatility in different business contexts. From sales and marketing campaigns to customer support and service, RBM offers a more engaging and personalized messaging experience that can drive conversions and customer satisfaction. Here are some examples of how RBM can be used in various business settings:

Sales and marketing campaigns

With RBM, businesses can send visually appealing and interactive messages that showcase their products or services, offer special promotions, and encourage customers to take action. For instance, a clothing retailer can send a message with a carousel of images displaying its latest collection and a call-to-action button to shop now.

Customer support and service

RBM can provide customers with a seamless communication channel to reach out to businesses for help or inquiries. RCS messages can include quick reply options, chatbots, or even video calls to resolve issues faster and with greater ease. For example, a telecommunications provider can send an RCS message with a chatbot to help customers troubleshoot their internet connection problem.

Appointment and reservation management

RBM can simplify the process of scheduling, rescheduling, or canceling appointments or reservations. Businesses can send automated reminders to reduce no-shows and enable customers to make changes directly through messaging. A clinic can send an RCS message with a link to reschedule or cancel appointments.

Product and service updates

RBM can keep customers informed and engaged with new products or services, promotions, or any other relevant information that may encourage repeat purchases. For example, a food delivery service can send an RCS message with a discount code for customers to try its new menu items.

Interactive surveys and feedback

RBM can be a valuable tool for businesses to gather feedback and insights from customers. Businesses can create interactive surveys or quizzes that customers can answer directly through messaging, making it more convenient and engaging. For example, a fitness studio can send an RBM message with a quiz to gather feedback on its new workout classes.

RBM offers businesses a powerful tool to enhance their customer communication and engagement, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

How can brands integrate RBM with existing business messaging channels?

Wonder how RBM can integrate with your existing business messaging channels? RCS apart from being replete with rich functionalities can also easily complement your existing business messaging efforts.

RBM with SMS

As per the Universal Profile, all Android phones will have Google Messages as the default messaging app. However, currently not all Android devices support RCS. So, how does RCS promise 100% reach? It fallbacks to SMS.

RCS messages can be sent to any number across the world. However, in devices that don’t support RCS, it falls back to SMS, ensuring you reach your customer despite this limitation. Furthermore, RCS will replace SMS in the 5G standard. However, 4G and 3G are more prevalent across the globe now, again proving to be a limitation during the transition phase.

RCS is available along with SMS in the same native messaging app, making it easier for businesses to leverage the benefits of RCS with the benefit of fallback to SMS, ensuring seamless customer communication.

RBM with OTT messaging platforms

When it comes to rich capabilities, RCS and OTT messaging platforms are at par. However, as RCS is available in the user’s native messaging app unlike OTT messaging platforms, it eliminates the need to download a third-party app. OTT messaging platforms can also work as fallback options for RCS when users cannot receive RCS messages.

RCS along with other prevalent OTT platforms can help businesses gain deeper reach, expand customer base, and offer seamless support across platforms as per customer convenience.

RBM implementation and best practices

RBM offers businesses a variety of advanced features to improve customer communications. However, implementing and optimizing RCS to its full potential for greater ROI will require businesses to follow certain best practices.

Working with aggregators and independent service vendors (ISVs)

Aggregators act as a bridge between businesses and mobile carriers, providing a single point of entry for businesses to connect with multiple carriers. Some aggregators like Gupshup, also offer additional services such as analytics, message personalization, and reporting.

However, if you need communication channels that offer RCS functionalities, then choose an appropriate ISV that specializes in creating custom solutions and integrating RCS into your existing communication systems.

Working with these partners can help brands to navigate the complexities of RCS implementation, ensure compatibility with different networks and devices, and take advantage of the advanced features of the protocol.

Ensuring opt-in and privacy compliance

Businesses need to ensure that they are compliant with opt-in and privacy regulations when using RBM to communicate with customers. Customers should have the option to opt-in or opt-out of RCS messaging. Additionally, businesses should ensure that they are following relevant data privacy regulations such as GDPR or CCPA.

Providing valuable and relevant content

To maximize engagement and conversion rates, businesses should provide valuable and relevant content in their RCS messages that are personalized to each customer. This can include providing offers, promotions, or important updates related to the customer’s previous interactions with the business. Personalization is key in RCS messaging as it helps businesses to build a stronger relationship with their customers.

Using automation and chatbots effectively

Automation and chatbots can be used to streamline communication with customers and provide more efficient customer support. However, businesses should use them carefully to ensure a personalized experience. Chatbots can be used to answer frequently asked questions, provide product recommendations, or complete simple tasks such as scheduling appointments or reservations.

Testing and optimizing messaging

To maximize the effectiveness of RCS messaging, businesses should test and optimize their messaging to ensure that it is engaging and effective in driving conversions. This can include testing different types of messages, offers, or calls-to-action to see which ones resonate with customers the most. Additionally, businesses should monitor their messaging campaigns to identify areas of improvement and adjust their approach accordingly.

Future of RCS

Despite slow adoption, RCS is gaining traction and has a bright future ahead.

Growing adoption and market share

The adoption of RCS has been on a steady rise over the years, and it is projected to continue in the future. Recent developments suggest that RCS is becoming more widely supported. This increased support is likely to result in greater adoption of RCS as a communication channel in the future. The RCS market is predicted to expand to $4.6 bn by 2026. RCS has already been adopted by major telecom carriers in countries like the US, UK, France, and Germany, which has led to increased market share for the platform.

In addition, with Google’s integration of RCS in Android Messages, it has become more accessible to Android users, which is a significant share of the smartphone market. As more businesses adopt RCS, it will become an increasingly important tool for customer engagement and communication. Here are some numbers that are testament to this fact.

Evolving features and capabilities

RCS is continually evolving to provide users with more features and capabilities. The platform’s focus is on enhancing user experience by offering advanced multimedia features such as sending high-quality images, videos, and audio files. RCS has also added features such as location sharing, group messaging, and even payments through the messaging platform. In addition, RCS is working towards providing end-to-end encryption, which will significantly enhance user privacy and security.

Integration with other technologies

RCS has the potential to integrate with other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and mobile wallets. Integrating RCS with AI could improve the personalization of messages and enable businesses to provide more targeted and relevant content to customers. Similarly, integration with mobile wallets could enable customers to make purchases or payments directly from within the native messaging app.

Advancements in personalization and targeting

Personalization and targeting are key features of RCS messaging. Advancements in these areas could further improve the effectiveness of RCS messaging, enabling businesses to provide more relevant and engaging content to customers. As RCS messaging becomes more personalized and targeted, it will become an increasingly effective marketing tool.

Potential for new use cases

As RCS adoption expands and the technology improves, there is potential for new use cases to emerge. For example, RCS messaging could be used in the healthcare industry to send appointment reminders, share test results, or provide health advice. Similarly, in the financial services industry, RCS messaging could be used to provide customers with account information, send payment reminders, or even facilitate transactions.

RBM use cases in the real world

Subway

Challenge:
Subway wanted to personalize its SMS campaign of weekly offers to their customers to drive sales and increase customer engagement.

Solution:
They chose to run RCS campaigns with rich cards and interactive features for the promotion of their sandwiches and meal deals. To track the impact of RCS campaigns, they even set up a control group using the existing SMS channel.

Results:
Subway saw a tremendous growth of 140% increase in conversion for sandwiches and 51% increase in conversion for meal deals compared to SMS. (Source: Google Jibe)

World Health Organization (WHO)

Challenge:
During the pandemic, WHO wanted to disseminate actionable information regarding prevention and safety measures for COVID to the citizens of the world. It faced the challenge of how to send accurate information across the world and ensure high open rates.

Solution:
WHO in partnership with OutThereMedia and several carriers, launched a global RCS messaging campaign. The campaign objective was to deliver links and notification to pertinent landing pages containing information. To help achieve this objective, an RCS bot that could answer people’s queries in their native language was launched.

Results:
The campaign saw immense success with a whopping 96% read rates and a 46% engagement rate. (Source: OutThereMedia)

Vodafone

Challenge:
Vodafone, a telecom network, wanted to reduce its support staff’s workload. Vodafone realized a major chunk of its support staff’s time was being wasted on resolving repetitive and simple customer queries.

Solution:
Automation was the obvious answer to their problems. So, Vodafone deployed an AI-powered RCS chatbot named TOBi. TOBi was a customer service chatbot, using which customers could ask general queries or get help with simple tasks such as checking account balances, swapping SIM cards, buying bundles, and more.

Results:
The RCS bot saw a 90% increase in customer conversion rate, something unheard of with any previous channels. Additionally, it helped reduce the workload on Vodafone’s customer care executive, allowing them to focus on solving critical and complex customer queries.

More case studies on RCS can be found on Google Jibe and MEF website.

Elevate Your Customer Communication Strategy with Gupshup’s RCS Solution

Customers expect personalized, interactive, immediate, and transparent communication. With RCS and its many features, you can not only deploy highly impactful, result-driven campaigns but also earn customer trust and further nurture your customer relationships.

As RCS evolves with more features and use cases, businesses already using RCS and keeping track of its trend, are perfectly positioned to avail all the benefits of this relatively new communication technology in business messaging.

Gupshup is the #1 Conversational Engagement Platform for Marketing, Commerce, and Support automation powered by conversational AI chatbots, for businesses to deliver human-like conversations, that boost customer satisfaction and revenue at scale.

With Gupshup’s RCS (Rich Communication Services) solution, you can reach your customers on every smartphone, including non-RCS devices. You can offer seamless automated support, deploy spam-proof messaging campaigns, and launch your campaigns across all carrier networks.

Stamp your brand’s presence in your customers’ SMS inbox and gain deeper insights into their behavior with Gupshup’s detailed analytics.

Ready to elevate your customer communication strategy with Gupshup’s RCS solution? 

Request for a demo today.