RCS, a new messaging innovation, updates the SMS platform.

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Global telecom leaders came together to discuss how changing user behavior is compelling Nigerian brands to rewrite the way they connect and engage with their customers. In the post pandemic years, researches have shown that consumers want brands to become more empathetic, be accessible anytime, anywhere, and deliver personalized experiences every time.

However, doing this at scale, with millions of consumers, in real-time, is a huge challenge for brands. In mobile-first markets like Nigeria, messaging is the key digital backbone for brand-consumer connectivity.

Although the short message services, SMS is popular, and many brands are leveraging it for marketing, commerce, and support, it however has limitations which some other popular, new-age messaging platforms like WhatsApp, are capitalising on.

However, a new technology, Rich Communication Services, RCS, is giving SMS a major upgrade, enabling a richer conversational experience between brands and consumers. The technology is said to be the next-generation of SMS.

Business benefits of using RCS

Businesses can leverage on RCS Business Messaging (RBM) to reach more consumers and improve customer experience, leading to increased Return on Investment, ROI. Messaging experts say that using RBM, brands can send rich and interactive messages. These can include images, GIFs, videos, carousels, suggested replies, and suggested actions. All these are delivered to customers from a verified sender identity with a trust mark, improving trust and convenience in the process.

How it works

Users don’t need to download another app. RCS leverages Google’s Messages app, the default SMS app on Android devices, and offers end-to-end encryption for advanced security. RCS is the default messaging standard for 5G networks, though it continues to support 3G and 4G networks.

For Nigerian businesses RBM can come handy in engagement across the entire customer life cycle – from marketing to completing sales, and then providing support. Statistics shows that more than 14 million people are already experiencing the benefits of using RCS in the country, and the number is growing rapidly, as all new Android devices are shipped with RCS built into the Messages app. With over 208 million mobile subscribers in total, Nigeria is in a unique position to take the lead in using RCS and set an example for other mobile-first markets in Africa as well as across the world.

MTN, Airtel and Dotgo take the lead

Already, telcos MTN, Airtel and Search engine giant Google with Omni-channel messaging platform Dotgo are putting heads together to offer RCS to their subscribers.

The telcos say they are offering RCS on their networks to improve the customer experience of their subscribers.

Chief Enterprise Business Officer, MTN, Lynda Saint-Nwafor, said: “Consumers want brands to be accessible anytime, anywhere – and businesses constantly look for new and innovative ways to enable this. Many of our enterprise customers in Nigeria are betting on RCS as a viable way to drive secure, contextual, and personalized consumer conversations at scale.

Her counterpart at Airtel and Director, Airtel Business Nigeria, Ogo Ofomata said: “Several of our enterprise customers are in the process of deploying RCS to consistently deliver a richer, more tailored, and interactive experience to thousands of consumers”.

For Android Partnerships Lead, West Africa, Google, Ngozi Madueke-Dozie, “the adoption of RCS business messaging continues to grow rapidly. Brands across the world now want to deliver rich and interactive messages including images, GIFs, videos, carousels, and more to their consumers”.

Meanwhile, Dr. Inderpal Singh Mumick, EVP telecom business at Gupshup and CEO, Dotgo said: “RBM enables brands to offer a next-gen customer experience with greater interactivity, improved trust, and advanced security. We are excited to help Nigerian brands re-imagine business-to-consumer communication and deliver richer, two-way conversational experiences to millions of subscribers.” That is also as CEO, Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), Dario Betti, added that “RCS is a big thing when it comes to rich communication and A2P messaging: it will redesign use cases, security, and models. We at MEF believe that it holds the potential to transform how enterprises engage with their consumers, helping them leverage Rich Business Messaging (RBM) to make it truly immersive at every level”.