Much attention has rightly been paid lately to how Rich Communication Services, or RCS, will transform the ways business can communicate with its customers: how brands can keep consumers updated on developments, and market what they have to offer, in ever more memorable and effective ways. B2C messaging is, however, only one part of the story – end users themselves are already experiencing vastly more agile and engaging methods of reaching the goods and services they need. Daily life is in the process of being made ever more efficient, convenient and compelling by the capabilities of RCS. In just about any case that lends itself to digital communication, RCS can improve how it’s done.
Daily necessities like grocery deliveries for instance can now be managed digitally via mobile, without needing to revisit the vendor’s website. Text alerts are no longer limited to simple tip-offs on arrival times, with perhaps an option to confirm at most: Esendex have devised a way for customers to schedule deliveries by Ocado, add those times to their digital calendars, receive reminders, change their orders, contact Ocado, pay for their shopping and store their receipts all in one place. This is one of the great advantages of RCS – what might previously have been spread over SMS, web browser accounts, and separately downloaded apps is now pulled together in a single user-friendly interface. With one in five apps used only once within six months of first download, consumers are plainly weary of switching between multiple apps; removal of that friction can only benefit both sides of the sale. And – crucially for anything involving online payments among today’s increasingly wary digital customers – the identity of the business providing that single space can be verified automatically to ensure peace of mind.
Something as simple and everyday as a lunchtime sandwich can now too be taken care of via RCS. Subway’s partnership with Mobivity has produced a tool which can send a notification at a given mealtime to check if the user is hungry, provide them with a selection of nearby branches, and allow them to order favourites or customise options via their native RCS interface, then collect from their selected branch without needing to wait in-store. Or, if a sandwich won’t quite suffice, the same can be achieved for pizzas; customers in North America for example can customise and order in a similar way from Boston Pizza with the help of ICF Olson, without once needing to navigate a website through their browser. Anyone who has felt a lunchbreak ebbing away needlessly while standing around in a restaurant will surely recognise the small but appreciated lift this innovation could add to their day.
There are few more niggling uncertainties in day-to-day life than the sense that one has outstanding bills, and being unsure whether they’ve been dealt with. SMS helped to reduce reliance on reminders by post, but the limits of the technology could not extend to management – users would still need to go from text message to online account, or send payment by post. A partnership this year between Broxel and Tiaxa means users can now do all of this via RCS: account holders receive an alert letting them know payment is due, with an image of the relevant bill, which they can then pay using their card or Broxel balance, or request further reminders. Platform provider Google performed demos of this service at the Mobile World Congress this year, showing how this apparently simple upgrade can, via improved convenience and efficiency, drive savings for both customers and business by encouraging timely payments. The old habits combining searches through papers, flicking through SMS reminders and taking the time to access browser accounts can thankfully be retired: bill management can now truly be performed all in one place, and that place is in your pocket at all times as a matter of course.
It is perhaps illustrative of all that RCS is already achieving in the improvement of the everyday that we can only consider a tiny fraction of examples in a single article; we encourage all those interested in knowing more to review further case studies and demos here. Deployment of RCS is now easier than ever, with pan-industry standardisation made possible via the GSMA’s Universal Profile specification. Users can already feasibly complete an entire day’s transactions via RCS – meals and bills can be joined, for instance, by sending a loved one a customised bouquet of flowers, locating and paying for a parking space, managing a holiday booking and even checking up on pets. Operators can now offer their customers not only an upgrade to SMS, but to the smartphone experience itself – diversion into separate browser windows and apps can now be limited to cases where it is truly necessary, saving everyone time and effort which might be better spent elsewhere. In this way the digitisation of daily life need not complicate matters – on the contrary, it is already greatly simplifying them.