At its core, Rich Communication Services (RCS) is your default text messaging upgraded, and the next generation of the decades-old SMS protocol. You can think of it as standard SMS, your favorite data-based messaging platform, and several rich features you’ve only ever enjoyed online combined.
Though limited to just 168 characters, texting is simple and short by design. So consumers love to use it to communicate with businesses. And businesses love them too. Not only is it their customers' preferred method of communication, but it’s also a standard feature on all mobile phones, enjoys a global reach, and almost immediate delivery.
As if all that wasn’t enough, SMS also enjoys a 98% open rate!
Now, what RCS aims to do is combine all that with a messaging standard that offers the ability to send high-quality videos, audio, and images as well as fantastic group chat abilities, location sharing, and typing or activity indicators. Just like SMS, RCS is linked to a mobile phone number and is all set to become the native messaging standard on Android devices.
RCS is not a new development, though. In fact, the protocol has been around for over a decade. However, mobile networks were responsible for implementing RCS and few had actually done anything about it. But now that Google has taken on the responsibility of developing the main platform for RCS, this is no longer a factor.
By making use of the GSMA’s Universal Profile, Google aims to expedite the roll-out of RCS messaging and ensure that it is compatible no matter the device or network the end-user is receiving the message on.
RCS Business Messaging and Application-To-Person (A2P) Messaging
A2P messaging is obviously a lot more complicated than messages between two people. RCS suffered from a lack of standardization in the beginning and that’s why so few brands adopted it.
But the GSMA Universal Profile has done away with the lack of cohesion and has paved the way for some pretty amazing features, including the ability to send larger files.
Here are some of our favorite features that RCS Business Messaging offers:
Until now any text message you sent took on the appearance of the default settings in the receiver messaging app. And that usually meant a blue text box with white or black text.
But with RCS you can customize your color palette to reflect your brand. This means you could have a pale green textbox with dark blue text or a yellow textbox with dark grey text. Or any combination you like!
Data-based messaging apps allow you to set a profile picture. But until now, SMS apps could only assign a profile image if the user had saved one along with the contact information. And if they haven’t set an image then all they see is the default greyed-out “anonymous” icon.
But RCS changes all that by allowing brands to set their own icon, so every message now features their logo alongside the textbox.
While RCS doesn’t support end-to-end encryption yet, one of the most exciting features for security-conscious people is the Verified Sending feature. All business accounts have to be verified, so the person receiving every message knows that it is actually coming from the person it says it is.
This means no more phishing attacks that take advantage of the loopholes presented by bulk SMS platforms and services.
Just like clicking on a CTA on a website can open a map, a video, or start a call – now you can do the same from right inside a text message. You could do this with standard SMS’s – in a way. By including the link in the text message you could direct the reader where you wanted them to go. But that’s unattractive and people are wary of links in text messages.
With Suggested Actions, you can increase engagement with your entire brand with a beautiful CTA button instead.
You’re probably familiar with the principle of Quick Replies already. Some banks and service providers use them for surveys and mobile providers use them to provide services like buying data via their shortcodes.
The basic principle behind RCS Quick Replies is the same, but instead of having to type out the appropriate response and submit it – your customer just taps a button.
The final feature we want to talk about is Rich Cards. These combine an image or video, text content, suggested actions, and quick replies into a single message which can be delivered in a customized layout.
Rich Card carousels take that idea one step further by combining multiple rich cards into one interactive message.
So you can create a product carousel, and users can scroll through up to ten different offers and then select the one they want. All without leaving their native messaging app.
RCS is not the native messaging standard yet, but thanks to Google’s backing it shouldn’t be long before it’s available no matter the network or device. And as RCS messages default to standard SMS if the receiver's device doesn’t support them – you can start using RCS Business Messaging already.