SMS messaging is at a turning point in its history. Google has announced the expansion of its Rich Communications Service (RCS) and the roll out of an early access program for the service. The new Android Messages application – which supports SMS, MMS and RCS business messaging – will replace the current native messaging app for Android. The most exciting prospects for the service currently lie with businesses. So what exactly is the state of this upstart technology trend?

In with the old and in with the new

While SMS messaging offers a plethora of communication benefits for businesses, including high user engagement and open rate, it doesn’t deliver the kind of rich communication experience that today’s smartphones can support.

In the “always on” digital age, customers have come to expect service and brand engagement at any hour, and in a way that the customer prefers, whether that’s SMS or RCS messaging, chat or voice.

Credit card alerts, flight status updates, and package delivery notifications are all great ways that businesses have used SMS messaging to reach their markets. But, in the face of the current messaging culture, it’s basic. And businesses need to bring more to the table.

How RCS messaging will help businesses

RCS is going to bring enhanced features to the standard SMS messaging experience across mobile devices. This improved business messaging will help businesses engage with their customers and build deeper relationships upon which greater business outcomes can be achieved.

Through the RCS early access program, businesses can now offer their customers this upgraded experience. And those who partake in the early access program will be giving their customers a host of new features from group chat and high-res photo sharing to read receipts and more. These enhanced messaging capabilities will be delivered through the carriers who sign on across the different regions.

The Google announcement of the service said this of their initiative:

“RCS will upgrade today’s business messaging 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. Businesses can also have a branded messaging experience with information about the business and the ability to share content like images, video clips, and gifs.”

The early adopters

Since launching the early access program plenty of businesses have seen the potential that this system has and have signed up. Soon carriers such as Sprint, Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Orange S.A. (France), Globe Telecom (Philippines) and Vodafone across 10 of its global markets will have Android Messages embedded as their native messaging app. Google has also managed to get the following mobile device manufacturers on board: LG, Motorola, Sony, and HTC. Businesses that want a piece of the RCS pie include the likes of Walgreens, Subway, Sky, and Uber.

These are the businesses which are likely to forge the way ahead for the latest technology trend, providing the testing area for Google to poke and prod to determine what works and what doesn’t. One way in which the tech giant is trying to remain flexible with its RCS is through seamless communication. That is, messaging that’s received regardless of what kind of phone the customer has.

A new type of communication

Brands can build campaigns and send them out to their customer base. Google’s service recognizes what type of message will work best on each device and sends the appropriate message whether that’s SMS, MMS or Clickatell's RCS messaging product. This kind of service lends itself to activities such as checking one’s bank balances and conducting transactions through suggested replies. Or perhaps hair salons can ask customers if they’d like to schedule an appointment and complete the process without having the customer leave the comfort of their armchair.
This is the future of SMS messaging and it’s already here. If you’d like to explore other ways that SMS marketing can help your business, read our recent article. It outlines seven benefits of the service that’ll make sure your customers know what’s happening with your business at all times. If you're interested in RCS business messaging, read more about our early access program here.

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