As an early adopter of messaging services, Jon knew his way around popular messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to communicate, transact business and get support. He long ago relegated SMS (aka text messaging) to simple, quick notes such as “Where are you?” to new friends who weren’t yet in his messenger app contact list. So he was thrilled to receive a boarding pass in his Android phone’s built-in messaging app for an upcoming train trip with Virgin Trains. Because the company had his mobile phone number, it was able to make the check-in process and overall customer experience seamless and effortless.
Mobile operators around the globe are launching an offering that exploits the advantages of SMS while also providing the experiential benefits of mobile messaging apps. Rich communication services (RCS) is mobile carriers’ alternative to mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and it enables brands to employ rich media and interactive elements to engage consumers.
Text messaging long represented a cash cow for mobile operators, initially in the form of person-to-person messages and subsequently as a mechanism for marketers to connect to customers. With smartphones, consumers graduated from SMS to messaging applications. As consumers moved to messaging apps, marketers attempted to follow them because many of these apps deliver a rich customer experience and better analytics on engagement.
Why are operators making this change? Because consumer shift to messaging applications meant lost revenue for carriers that now want to revive that source of revenue by providing brands with the unparalleled reach and single, common identifier (a customer’s phone number) inherent in RCS.