RCS, a new messaging protocol, aims to replace standard text messaging (SMS, or Short Message Service) as the preferred communication service between brands and customers.
Before we get into all of the ways RCS is going to do this, let’s first go over the basics.
What is RCS?
RCS stands for Rich Communication Services. Google has developed a new protocol using RCS for the way messages will work on Android and Samsung. This new protocol—given the simple, user-friendly name of “Chat”—is designed to reduce friction between business-and-customer communications. (It’ll make casual texting much better, too.)
In a press release, Mobile World Congress explained: “The service upgrades existing SMS business messaging to create a richer and more interactive experience for consumers, allowing them to engage directly with brands within the messaging platform via artificial intelligence and chatbots.”
What Can RCS Do?
So what exactly can Chat offer to businesses—and to consumers—that SMS can’t?
RCS Supports Rich Media
One of the problems with SMS is that it hasn’t changed much since the first text message was sent way back in 1992. That’s why, when it comes to communicating with friends, people often prefer Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp simply because it’s easier to put gifs and stickers into their messages. Plus, group messaging becomes a lot easier when each member is using the same app (vs. each person using a different mobile carrier to text, which can get dicey).
People download those apps because they improve on the things that are annoying about SMS—and that’s just what Chat wants to do. With rich media, messages go from dull to delightful. And with the protocol’s goal of becoming the new default avenue of communication, there won’t be the annoyance of arguing whether your friends’ group chat should be on Messenger or GroupMe.
RCS is Intuitive
Because Chat aims to mimic the best parts of the popular messaging apps people already know and love, there won’t be much of a learning curve (if there is one at all). Plus, since Google designed it, we can already guess that it’ll be a breeze to use.
The one “new” thing we’re seeing in Chat? Card carousels.
These cards, which can support rich media and actionable items, will be swipable, giving brands plenty of opportunity to dazzle consumers with their beautiful content. While we’ve seen swiping technology before, the way it’s getting sent to consumers—directly and effortlessly—is something to get excited about. After all, the easier it is for people to shop, the easier it is for you to make money.
RCS Doesn’t Require a New App
No more worrying about wasting precious storage on your phone just to be able to send gifs in your group chat. Chat will be an automatic update within the default messaging app on Android phones. There’s no new app to download—something that could have kept those who are stingy about storage space from using WhatsApp or GroupMe, much less the apps of their favorite stores.
It seems that Samsung users will have the choice whether or not to go through with the RCS update. As for iPhones, Google is still trying to get Apple on board with RCS being the new standard. Only time will tell whether they agree to join the messaging revolution, or if they remain the aloof Apple we’ve become accustomed to.
RCS Allows Brand Customization
In the same vein as Facebook Messenger’s recent update, Chat will give brands some degree of customization. For example, the color scheme can be chosen to match the brand’s colors, and the logo will be displayed pretty much at all times.
With SMS, there isn’t much branding opportunity at all. With Chat, even the unknown phone numbers will be gone: messages from brands will come automatically labeled, so you know immediately that one of your favorite brands is texting you.
RCS Reduces App Switching
Instead of being texted a link to tap on in order to confirm your hotel room or check in to your flight, Chat will let you take care of those things inside the app. Thanks to RCS, you won’t have to waste time switching between apps and browsers to get something done that’s supposed to be convenient.
“Chat will be able to send live updates about upcoming trips, boarding passes, and even allow you to select your seat from within the Android Messages app,” writes Digital Trends. This new, seamless design will be a huge asset in keeping customers happy—which is always great for businesses.
RCS Integrates with Your Other Apps
Chat can access your calendar without opening the calendar app, making it easier than ever to make appointments, confirm flights, and more. Plus, access to the payment information you’ve allowed on your phone will make purchasing within Chat practically instantaneous.
“Through integration with payment options such as mobile wallet and card-on-file, RCS can enable customers to purchase products or make payments directly within the messaging application—reducing friction and increasing conversion for brands,” writes 3C Interactive. “Messaging can move from being a notification and engagement service to a revenue-generation storefront on its own.”
The RCS Revolution
Clearly, RCS is going to revolutionize the ways that brands and consumers communicate with each other. This new and improved way of reaching your customers offers up countless opportunities for advertising and marketing to evolve.
Interested in more ways you can improve communications with your customers? Contact Kirkpatrick Creative today.