CPaaS software is becoming increasingly popular because customers are looking for more ways to communicate with their favorite brands. When you order an Uber, the driver texts or calls you to confirm things like the address where they will pick you up. This is mostly done using something called an editable API. This kind of functionality is convenient, and many customers prefer the ease of a quick text message for confirmation. Simply put, SMS texting is the new customer service go-to.
Unfortunately, SMS texting has its issues. It has a 160-character limit and doesn’t handle file transfers well. This is where rich communications services (RCS) come in. This messaging is currently available on Android phones. It expands on the functions that you would find in standard SMS or MMS, which is the most well-known multimedia texting system.
In this guide, we’re going to show you how it works and hit on some of its strengths and weaknesses. We will cover the following sections in this article:
- What are Rich Communications Services?
- What Makes RCS Unique?
- Business Benefits of RCS
- CPaaS Providers with RCS Messaging APIs
- The Pros and Cons of RCS Messaging
- RCS vs SMS vs MMS
This messaging is a type of text-based protocol for mobile devices. It was designed as a replacement for SMS and MMS messaging. While this protocol has been making waves as the next best thing in communications, it’s actually more than a decade old.
It first appeared in 2007 and was adopted by the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) in 2008. Since then, it struggled to gain a foothold on mobile devices. This lasted until December 2019, when several U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, committed to supporting the protocol.
But why are RCS networks gaining so much attention?
Simply put, these platforms offer features that usually outshine standard SMS. These include message receipts that tell you that a message has been received and seen by the recipient and more complex media transfer features.
This messaging system brings these kinds of features to Google Android users. Phones from manufacturers like Samsung and LG have long been without a feature-rich messaging service. With RCS, there’s no 160-character limit, you can send larger attachments, and receipts are available.
Additionally, there is a major limitation of SMS which is now neatly bypassed. You send RCS messages via mobile data or Wi-Fi, so when customers don’t have cell service but they are on a wireless network, you still have the ability to send them messages without a problem.
RCS service doesn’t use the same file formats as SMS or MMS. Besides the text transmission features, the messaging protocol allows users to send multiple data types such as pictures, video, location data, pdf. files, and even Microsoft Word documents. Customers can also complete transactions within the messages app.
While it does have some security concerns, one feature that a business will find valuable is sender verification. With this system, any texts a business sends will have to be verified first. That way, customers won’t have to worry about being spammed by third parties pretending to be their favorite brands. When a message is sent, the recipient will see the verified sender’s information – not just the phone number.
This system is very convenient for the average user, but how does it provide new opportunities for your business?
More Interactive Messaging
One of the best benefits of this system is the file size. Unlike SMS and MMS, rich communication messages have a file size limit that spans into megabytes, not kilobytes. This means that you will be able to send more multimedia content to your customers, such as audio and video.
Consider this: with traditional messaging, you can send a small .jpeg or .gif image to your customers, perhaps with a link, but is this enough to engage them? With this system, your messages can have high-definition images, clickable buttons, and branding, which will create a more browser-like messaging experience. This system provides a much more detailed user experience, which results in better engagement.
The protocol also brings the ability to complete entire transactions right inside the messaging app. Instead of providing a link that opens in a mobile browser, RCS Android messages handle all of the functionality on their own. Without the need to change software, this creates a universal profile for users.
While browsing through an app like Samsung Messages, the customer can select different color options for the product and click various sizes. Once they’ve selected the variation of the product that they want, RCS messaging allows them to complete the transaction by providing their payment and mailing details.
This is another way of increasing engagement by making things more convenient for your customers. Instead of waiting for pages to load on their browser app, they can complete a transaction inside their rich communication services-enabled applications.
Easy Feature Integration
You’ll be able to integrate various features into your software easily. For example, chatbots are very useful for helping customers navigate through menus. They also save money because there’s no need to involve your agents when self-service is enough. It’s very easy to implement inside RCS software, and you can use a FAQ-style setup or incorporate AI to help your customers receive resolution.
Additionally, since this messaging easily sends location data, brands send information to the customer through the messaging app that will tell them how to reach their nearest brick and mortar location. This is also useful for those receiving deliveries since purchasing, shipping, and delivery confirmation are all possible with the messaging application.
With features like branding and sender verification, customers will know it’s your business that’s sending them communications/offers. That’s because once the sender is verified, branding will be consistent across the board. That’ll make for a better all-around customer experience.
Read receipts also help businesses better keep track of messages sent to customers. For example, you can use it for collection activities. When you send a message about a late payment, you will always know that the customer received and read it — that’s because RCS messaging offers rich analytics capabilities comparable to web analytics tools.
Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) providers help your developers add messaging APIs to your applications so you can extend your communications channels. This lets your customers reach your brand in ways that they find convenient. Remember, modern customers typically use more than three touchpoints to reach a brand. This means that you have to find the one with the best messaging features to meet your customers’ needs.
Here are some providers that include APIs for messaging. These will make reaching out to Android users on the mobile operators that support the system easier.
Twilio is a CPaaS provider that makes it easy to send messages to customers. Even though there are lots of great Twilio alternatives, Twilio is still a great option for businesses that are looking to upgrade their customer experience by switching to RCS messaging. Their options are scalable so that messages are deliverable across the globe, and they have an uptime guarantee of 99.95%. Twilio also has an RCS app with a drag-and-drop builder that can be used to customize your messages to create a better user experience for customers.
Messaging APIs Available through Twilio
A few years ago, Vonage acquired Nexmo to create a CPaaS provider that delivers strong options for businesses to send messages globally. Vonage’s Communications APIs options let you change the type of messaging that you are creating based on the needs of the customer. This will ensure that videos and audio files are sent to customers quickly without sacrificing quality.
Messaging APIs Available through Nexmo
- Facebook Messenger
Sinch has messaging capabilities that provide an app-like experience that will make customers more comfortable. You will be able to send images, audio, and video files in these messages as well as create and customize the message to make an interactive experience for your brand. You will know when messages are received and whether the customer is sending a response back. If this kind of messaging fails with Sinch, there is a failover that will change your message into either an MMS or an SMS message to ensure that it is still sent.
Messaging APIs Available through Sinch
With Kaleyra messaging, you don’t have to worry that audio and video files are incompatible with the MMS messaging system that you use. This messaging delivers a unique branding experience that customers will enjoy and a faster response rate when messages are sent. RCS messaging will help you build the trust of your customers and track their engagement with your brand.
Messaging APIs Available through Kaleyra
Google Jibe lets carriers and OEMs build a solid messaging experience with RCS. You can engage and retain your existing users with features like high-resolution photos, larger file sharing, group chats, read receipts, and more. Google also offers the Jibe Hub, which provides mobile operators with an easy connection to the global RCS network.
Messaging APIs Available through Google Jibe:
As we discussed, there are multiple benefits that make RCS messaging great for business. Let’s take a look.
- You can send higher-quality images and larger messages.
- Location sharing is integrated into the messaging app as well as other group chat features that are useful when sending a message.
- Video calling is supported by default.
- You can send and receive documents with a customer that you’re already messaging.
- You can use calendar integrations for scheduling meetings and invoice integrations for scheduling payments.
- You can create a web-like experience for customers. Instead of just text, limited images, and links, you can brand your texts, add image carousels, and add clickable links to your messages.
RCS messaging is far from perfect. There are aspects that fall behind other types of messaging that may prevent a business from using it. Here are some weak points to consider when it comes to RCS messaging.
- RCS messages do not have built-in end-to-end encryption.
- RCS messaging only functions with a mobile phone number, so devices like tablets and standard Microsoft Windows and Apple desktop computers are not compatible.
- The service is still relatively new, so it’s not available through all carriers at this point.
- iPhone devices do not support this type of messaging with Android users. Non-iOS users can only send standard SMS messages to Apple devices.
To give you a better idea of what rich communication messaging offers, take a look at this comparison chart so you can decide whether to use SMS, MMS, or RCS messaging.
|Connection requirements||Cellular connection||Cellular connection||Cellular connection or Wi-Fi|
|Message receipt confirmation||No||No||Yes|
|Messaging capabilities||Text, links, and emojis||Text, links, emojis, images, video files, audio files, and contact cards||Text, links, emojis, images, video files, audio files, contact cards, and data files|
|File size limitations||N/A||300KB (MMS 1.2) and 600KB (MMS 1.3)||10MB|
|Mobile platforms||Any smartphone||Any smartphone||Android smartphones|
Is RCS a Valid Successor to SMS Messaging?
RCS isn’t perfect – Apple’s iMessage has yet to really embrace the technology, which may be a major roadblock for some businesses that are looking to adopt. Also, RCS doesn’t currently provide end-to-end encryption. This type of encryption makes it very difficult for third parties to access messages, and without this encryption, VoIP security can be compromised. Fortunately, there were several hints that Google will soon be adding this feature.
This advanced messaging provides you with a key feature that helps you reach customers where they are most comfortable – in their favorite messaging app. Looking for additional ways to connect with your customer base? Check out our breakdowns of the best call center software solutions on the market.
Frequently asked questions
Google Pixel, LG, and Motorola devices support RCS.
If one of these messages is sent over a cellular network, it counts against a data plan. It doesn't when they're sent over WiFi.
It's a technical standard that defines the way to tell other phones that it can send and receive RCS.