Embracing new channels of digital engagement: Role of AI
By : Chitharanj Kachappilly
Architect - R&D
In this era of omni-channel customer engagement, enterprises have to offer a seamless, consistent and personalized experience to your customers at every channel and touch point through which they are interacting. Keeping this in mind, it is very interesting to note that SMS still manages to be a part of almost every marketer’s marketing channel mix. The simplicity and reach that it offers makes it a preferred channel. According to a 2014 study by Pew Internet, 97% of smartphone owners send text messages, making it the most widely used smartphone feature.
Aiming to make SMS services more valuable, rich and engaging, smartphone manufacturers and network operators have teamed up with governing bodies of the telecom industry to develop Rich Communication Services (RCS).
RCS is a next-gen SMS messaging system which is richer and focuses on engagement along with communication. It improves the way in which people and businesses communicate. RCS messaging when combined with AI, chatbots and other plug-ins, can provide brands with the opportunity to offer a much more personalized, human-like conversational engagement.
How is RCS changing the messaging ecosystem?
Messaging activity is now being transformed from app-based to platform based. To elaborate, it is becoming prominent, providing great opportunities for businesses and mobile network operators to enhance their engagement with customers. RCS messaging, based on MaaP, provides incremental benefits for all stakeholders in the messaging ecosystem.
Better experience for consumers
RCS will eliminate the need to download multiple messaging apps. By providing a rich set of features, it can consolidate multiple messaging activities under one umbrella. Consumers can get relevant personalized services and content through a single messaging interface. Additionally, they can communicate with the brands through natural human-like conversation in real time and get access to instant replies and auto-responses for faster engagement.
Game changer for brands
Businesses can harness RCS for multiple branding strategies. They can communicate with their customers in a contextually relevant and personalized way and be available 24/7. Brands can also bring in chatbots through RCS and provide a carousel-scrolling, rich media experience for more convenient and faster transactions. They can also create a consistent communication experience for consumers. For example, airlines can provide travelers with rich media notifications to upgrade options, check flight status and access instant services within flight. RCS creates an opportunity to democratize rich features across network operators and devices.
Revenue maximization for operators
With the presence of so many free and unlimited messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat etc., operators are faced with a decline in revenue generation through messaging. With MaaP coming into the picture, they can increase their A2P (application-to-person) messaging volume and generate new revenues by enabling businesses to reach their customers more effectively.
Network operators can leverage RCS for:
Enhancing user engagement:
Network operators can leverage RCS to engage with their customers in a more personalized and contextual way and drive seamless experience across the customer journey. They can increase sales and customer satisfaction by developing operator-specific A2P apps and re-engage with subscribers to reduce churn and increase customer stickiness.
Generating revenues through A2P services:
Businesses trust operator SMS as a more secure and effective way of connecting to customers. RCS further provides richer A2P customer engagement. It provides operators with the opportunity to dominate business-to-consumer messaging, beat the siloed OTT apps creating new revenue sources.
As per GSMA, there are two key models which operators can follow for monetizing RCS. A direct-based model, where an operator can collect value from the content-owner by charging for messages. Second is the indirect revenue-sharing model where the value is collected elsewhere in the ecosystem by a chatbot, a plug-in developer or AI with a share of that revenue received by the operator.
Role of AI in conversational commerce
RCS provides a human-like conversational interface which enables users to access a range of brands and services from within their messaging app itself. They can carry out actions such as booking flights, making reservations and shopping online without having to download numerous apps.
By using AI and RCS, brands can provide personalized responses and services as per a customer’s persona and historic behavior. RCS can enable seamless and natural human-like conversations via voice and chat interfaces, tailor user engagement as per need and intent and iteratively improve engagement by self-optimization.
As operators, consumers, brands and other components of the messaging ecosystem embrace RCS, it would be interesting to watch how the messaging landscape transforms. The idea of a universal one-click messaging app, combined with Artificial Intelligence technology will open new ways for businesses to reach more consumers in a contextually relevant way and open new monetization streams for network operators to grow their revenues exponentially.