For the most part, customer outreach in the finance industry consists of a multi-channel approach, consisting of some combination of email, phone calls, SMS, Apps, and postal mail.
There are two issues with this approach:
Customers are busy and don’t want to have to stop and start tasks. They want a seamless digital customer experience that lets them do what they have to quickly. For example, when customers receive a payment reminder, they don’t want to have to leave their email and go to their bank’s website to make a payment. Customers either don’t follow through or think they’ll do it later but don’t.
These channels don’t guarantee customers will see — let alone respond — to requests. Emails end up in spam, phone calls go unanswered, and in this digital age where information is instantly available online, it’s not unusual for mail to go unopened.
This is where RCS (Rich Communication Services) comes in. It’s touted as a game-changer because the long-term goal is for it to replace text messages.
In fact, Andy Shirey, senior product manager at OpenMarket, told Digital Trends, “we like to call it the next evolution of SMS. It’s richer messaging content with features like read receipts that are great to have.”
RCS combines the features of apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp in one place. It also lets businesses, like yours, use features like rich media and analytics to learn and communicate with customers. In return, customers have a “one-stop-shop” to manage and make payments.
The best part is that like text, RCS isn’t an app. Messages are sent to mobile phones, so there’s nothing to download. Google is currently developing their own version of Apple’s iMessage service called Chat.
Although it is not yet commercially available to all comers, it is important to be aware of how you (or your competitors) can make use of RCS to improve the customer experience. Here are five examples, plus details on how to get the best elements of RCS right now, without some of the limitations.
1. Rich text media will improve digital customer engagement
Current text messages are just that — text-based. As a result, customers are limited in how they respond. Oftentimes the conversation looks like this:
Customer responses are limited to numbers or one word, they have to leave the text to get additional information, and, in this particular example, there’s a cost to follow through.
With RCS, your options are more robust. You can start group chats, send video and audio messages, high-resolution images, forms, and even surveys to make the customer experience more interactive and convenient. Customers can review their transaction, credit and debt information in one place without leaving the message.
For Example, let’s say you have clients who have payments that are 30 days past due; you can use RCS to send a short explainer video walking them through how to make a quick repayment. By making the next steps clear to customers, you improve the chances of them making a payment sooner rather than later.
2. RCS will reshape the debt collection process
30 million people have credit cards in Britain with 3.3 million in persistent debt. Repayment often takes longer than it should and erodes the customer experience due to a constant push for payment.
Institutions, like the Financial Conduct Authority, are doing their best to help people tackle their debt problems by putting new legislation in place. But the problem with debt repayment isn’t just people being unable to afford it; part of the issue is inefficiencies in communication between financial services and clients.
Rich communications makes repayment simpler for people who want to pay off their debt and can be used as part of a plan to help clients pay back their debt sooner.
3. Live updates will make checking outstanding balances easier
Currently, if a customer wants to check their outstanding balance, they have to find an old statement or log into their bank account to find what they’re looking for. This takes time and is frustrating for clients.
With RCS, you’re able to use live updates to let clients check their outstanding balance at any time. Or even confirm an unusual transaction. For example, once a month you’d be able to send a notification to clients’ phones so that they confirm if they made a payment. All a client has to do is open the RCS message and tap a button to confirm their transaction.
Lots of banking apps show customers a breakdown of their spending and segment the information based on expense type. You can use the same idea so that every time a customer accesses their outstanding credit balance in real-time, they can quickly see how much has been paid each month and how much is still outstanding. Making information easy to find and understand improves the digital customer experience because access is quick.
RCS also allows for payment within the message, which in turn speeds up repayment because it’s easy for customers to follow through.
4. Brand consistency will build customer trust
Although SMS Alpha Tags allow companies to automatically include the name of the sender in each message, it doesn’t make for a great brand interaction. Financial Services pump a lot of resources into building and maintaining a strong brand, and plain text does not do this justice. A consistent user experience is essential for maintaining trust and recognition across different channels.
RCS lets you incorporate branding into your messages to match the branding on your website, apps, and more so that that hard-won trust is reinforced.
5. RCS will allow for analysis and insights
Understanding your clients is a big part of how you do business. You have to know what kinds of programs will resonate with them, when to communicate with them, what types of repayment support they need, and more. This is why analytics are important to the growth of your business.
With RCS, you have a chance to test different variations of your client outreach campaigns to see which tactics result in shorter debt repayment times. Since the capabilities within text messages are limited, your analysis options are as well.
You can use RCS to run more in-depth A/B testing to create campaigns that result in higher debt repayment — in less time. For example, you can test what types of CTA buttons have the highest click-through rates, whether clients respond to video or voice messages, or even what types of images are appealing to clients.
In the meantime: how to get ahead of the RCS curve
Even though RCS is being primed to replace SMS, the rate of adoption from mobile carriers has been slow. More mobile networks need to support RCS so that more users can send and receive messages in the chat feature on their phone. Additionally, it is only available on Android and Windows phones. This leaves a large chunk of the market out of reach.
However, there are alternatives that are already available — like our Rich Media Messaging feature. You can send messages that are similar to RCS to make customer follow-through simple and easy:
With Rich Media Messaging you can start sending messages to all smartphones, regions, and network providers right now. Just like RCS, you have access to analytics, options to create workflows that move clients through the customer journey, secure payments, surveys, and more.
RCS is still in the early days of its introduction, but like products that had a slow start but then had consistent, strong growth — Apple and Nintendo — RCS might be off to a slow start, but the potential to change the finance industry exists.
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