September 4, 2019

RCS and RBM for beginners: explaining what's what

RCS and RBM for beginners: explaining what's what

We've reached a new era of communication – one that can be characterized by rapid digital technology advancements and the frequent use of social media.

Both of these trends have irreversibly altered the way we communicate with each other – and how businesses around the globe interact with their customers.

Consumers expect communication to be seamless and rich in content, and brands are striving to use the best possible methods to provide impeccable communication experience for their clients.

RCS, or Rich Communication Service, and RBM, or RCS Business Messaging, are currently leading the way to the future of SMS.

However, to understand the importance of these three-letter-acronyms, which we believe to be the next generation of SMS, we have to start with the basics and take a small step back in communication history.

From SMS to RCS

Before there was RCS, there was MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service. And before there was MMS, there was – SMS.

SMS, or Short Message Service, also known simply as text messaging, is the current texting standard that has been around since the 1990s and lets mobile phones exchange basic 160-character text messages over the mobile network.

Even though there are many disadvantages to SMS, like not supporting read receipts, group messaging features, or even animated emojis, text messaging still remains incredibly popular. There are over 5 billion texters in the whole world with about 26 billion text messages sent on a daily basis in the US alone.

This is why the mobile industry has been continuously looking for ways to make the SMS service more valuable and competitive with messaging apps. Finally, they've found a way to develop a modern take on texting – with RCS.

The beginning of RCS actually dates back to 2007 when it was formed by industry promoters and soon brought under the all-seeing eye of the GSM Association. However, it took approximately a decade to get all the carriers, smartphone manufacturers, and governing bodies on the same page.

Fast forward to 2018, Google finally announced it had been working with every major cell phone carrier to finally adopt the RCS protocol. The result will be Chat – a protocol based on RCS that will supersede SMS, will rely on your data connection, and work across multiple devices.

Now that we know that RCS is the future replacement for SMS texting, let's get to the bottom of what this technology actually means for the users.

What exactly is RCS?

Basically, RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a communication protocol that is meant to replace the limitations of SMS messages.

What's so different about RCS? This new texting format makes standard text messaging look and function similarly to Apple's iMessage. RCS would introduce a text-message system that is richer in content and with a lot more multimedia capabilities.

It's also important to understand that RCS is not just a tool or a platform ran by one specific mobile carrier. Exactly the opposite – it's an industry-agreed set of features and technical enablers developed to simplify the product development and global operator deployment of RCS.

So, apart from the usual text messages (both plain and fancy, aka full with emojis), you'd also be able to:

  • Send GIFs, high-resolution photos, stickers, as well as videos
  • Know if the person you're texting is available (RCS can send you a receipt to prove they've received your message)
  • Create longer messages
  • Attach files
  • Enjoy group messaging
  • Carry out video calls directly within the messaging app (no need to rely on third-party software).

Doesn't these all sound like features you've already been offered by Apple iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger? Sure, but so far, Android phones have gone without these features in a default messaging application.

So, that's the main point here – RCS is not another third-party app you need installed on your phone. Instead, RCS messaging will combine the features of iMessage, WhatsApp, and other messaging apps into one platform built directly on your Android phone.

Currently, support for RCS has been promised by 55 carriers and 11 hardware manufacturers, including Samsung, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, and Google – but not Apple.

Now, what happens when RCS meets business messaging and customer service? Enter RBM!

What is RBM?

Basically, RBM is RCS combined with business services – therefore, RCS Business Messages. Or, as we also like to call it – SMS on steroids.

Indeed, RBM is the evolution of mobile messaging which is meant to increase and improve the ways in which people and businesses communicate. With RBM, your brand would be able to get access to your very own RCS channels and you'd be able to send rich messages to Android smartphones, similarly to Facebook Messenger.

However, in this case, you or your customers wouldn't need to download a specific app, as RCS (and by extension, RBM) would be the default messaging app on an Android phone (much like the iMessage on iPhones).

Just like RCS, RBM is very feature-rich and allows you to interact with your customers by sending:

  • Texts
  • Media (files, audio, video, images)
  • Structured messages with buttons and horizontal scroll
  • Quick replies (dial phone number, send location)
  • Payment requests
  • Calendar events

RBM allows you to interact in real-time with your customers, send them account or service updates, promotional vouchers, airplane or event tickets, and other important data.

You'd also be able to detect user behaviors like:

  • Delivery and read notifications
  • When the user starts typing

How can RBM help your business?

There are several ways how RBM can noticeably improve your business communication. Here are some of the most important changes you can make:

  1. Improve customer service. Connect RBM to your helpdesk and build a chatbot, which will decrease holding time and create frictionless messaging. Enhance your chat support by adding buttons such as “cancel a reservation”, “book tickets”, etc.
  2. Improve the online buying experience. Provide up-to-date notifications on the delivery status so that your customers feel in control of their order. Send updates when the order is dispatched, when it's reached the customs, and when the order has arrived.
  3. Send push notifications directly to customers' screens. Launch discounts and special offers, information on items that are about to sell out, etc. in order to attract customers' attention and drive sales.

Final words

As far as Europe goes, the RCS messaging option for Android phones has only been rolled out in the UK and France, but more countries will follow soon. RCS messaging is also enabled by certain mobile carriers in Brazil (by Oi), the US (by Spring, US Cellular, and Google Fi), Canada (Rogers, Freedom), and Mexico (Telcel).

That's why you and your business need to stay tuned to see how you can benefit from RCS and RBM. Don't hesitate to get in touch with Amio for hands-on help and ideas to maximize your business messaging.

Kristine Spure
Kristine Spure

Kristine is a writer and content marketer for TrueSix, helping brands with big plans get noticed on the global stage. If knowledge is power, Kristine's all up for asking the whys and the hows.