Podcast | What features of RCS are most useful for conversational commerce – and how to get started with RCS.

Jean
Shin

Director, Strategy & Content

16min Podcast
Podcast |   What features of RCS are most useful for conversational commerce – and how to get started with RCS

In this Part 2 of our conversation with Pedro Silva, a pre-sales engineer at WIT Software, we get the inside scoop on what RCS is optimized for. Delving into technical details of key features and specifications, Pedro shares the whats and hows involved in getting stated with RCS-powered automation.

Transcript

Jean:

Pedro, welcome back to show. In our last episode, we talked a lot about what RCS is and the new bells and whistles that we haven't been able to use so far but would be able to with RCS. Now, I want to ask you to put on your engineer hat and just take us into what it means to you, in terms of automation and some of the conversational commerce that is happening, that goes beyond just having conversations, actually performing buying transactions and so on. Tell us, RCS as a protocol, what is it really opening up for you?

 

Pedro Silva:

Yeah, RCS, let me just separate things on RCS. Because on RCS, we may have the person-to-person communication, which is P2P communication, which is a normal chat that we make with our friends and group chats. We have this brand to consumer communication, and this is where all this magic about automation and this value that we can deliver to the customers comes in.

In the brand to person perspective, or the A2B or B2A messaging, what we call in the space, allows to create accounts validated by the operator, certifies, validated and certified, that there is a real entity. RCS, one thing that I really love is that you have more control about the look and feel of your chatroom, for instance, imagine that you onboard Bayern Munich accounts to have presence on RCS. There, you have possibility to define the colors of the chat room, with the red and whites colors, of course, and then we also have the ability in that Welcome screen, where the chat bot or the brand introduced himself to the customer. You can have the freedom to define that starting button with a label that makes sense for your brand, for instance, "Go Team". Sorry, I don't know if you are a Bayern Munich fan, but here's just an idea because in general-

 

Jean:

For the record, Borussia Dortmund, but don't tell my Munich friends about this, but go on please.

 

Pedro Silva:

We can actually create an account with yellow and black colors, of course.

 

Jean:

I know you love buttons. I learned this from our last episode. Tell me a little more about, in a technical way, what it really means, the buttons, not only because users like myself love pushing it, but what it enables in the backend to be able to do?

 

Pedro Silva:

Yeah, excellent question. I love buttons, but I also love to, sometimes, to send my questions in a free text form, right? but let's just focus on buttons, okay. RCS brings the suggested actions, which are more actions that we can assign to the buttons that we have on the conversation you have in other channels. When you press buttons, you can do things like open external URLs, or you can, by pressing buttons, you can trigger some payloads or some skills on the bot, that the bot then will react and complete the flow or the new flow to achieve something. One comes up to RCS that buttons have more alternatives, more options, more options like to request locations, which is something that I really, really love to use it. Another useful button is, I can click on the button and to start immediately if I scope, also I can create a button to contact me in some way or to send, to share some, some rhythm, some nice message to my colleagues.

I can click on that and this will automatically open my message composer with the brief field message to send, or the one that I love the most is the button that will create events in my agenda. Okay, so because imagine that if I make an appointment or I need to pick up my car, someone else okay, the brand will send me this and "click here to add to calendar". I love the "click to add to calendar", the good thing is all run through the specific specification, okay. You don't need to have any integration with the external APIs or things like this, the specification finds that, and the apps will know how to handle that seamlessly with no APIs, no communication, things like this.

 

Jean:

Although I love them and use them, but at the same time, having worked with the AI part of it a bit, it feels like such a lazy thing, because a lot of times AI is not very good at understanding what I'm typing or saying. Sometimes, people just love pushing the buttons because that simplifies the choice. How about the AI part of it, does it work differently or the same way with RCS?

 

Pedro Silva:

RCS gives you the freedom to, in your accounts, to set if you want that texting put bar activated or not. Of course, I believe that we all agree that having that activators is very cool is, is very useful because I also love to press buttons, but sometimes all the buttons are not enough for me, and I need more because I have a special question, or I have a problem solve, okay. In that time comes up, that I will go and type my question, and when I type of question, or when the customers type a question, this will need to have on the channel side or on the brand side, some kind of intelligence to know or to understand what the customer wants. To do so we need to bring the artificial intelligence subject or the artificial intelligence science to help us in this case, specially on the natural language processing.

RCS specification does not define anything related to the artificial intelligence, okay, but opens the door by leaving that input text activated. What we do in our platform, we also integrated that with chat bots, we integrated this to handle the feed texts with our artificial intelligence in order to understand the question of the user and to understand what the user wants and how to help the user, because as we know, chat bots are very good to solving simple questions and to navigate us, to solve our problems and do things like troubleshooting processes and do all of these type of things that AI can help us to understand what the customer wants.

 

Jean:

When it comes to AI, I love the notion of ‘creating once and use many.’ If it's not a channel-specific bot, if we're basically bringing in a bot created in whichever development framework you happen to work with…integrating it into the RCS channel is pretty straightforward?

 

Pedro Silva:

Yeah, I see this not as a lack of specification, okay. I believe this is an open door to embrace AI and also, the same effort that you will have to train chat bots to be delivered on RCS, is the same effort you will reuse that effort to deliver the same intelligence to other channels that allows to send free text, okay. This is something that I believe that is an openness to AI, that will allows you to reuse that effort to different channels. One of them can be RCS, of course.

 

Jean:

Are there any requirements in terms of these automated interactions, that RCS is requiring, say if the end-user requests for some kind of known action, you have to respond in three seconds or something like this? I know different chat apps, to protect their user experience, that have certain guidelines and requirements…anything like this?

 

Pedro Silva:

Yeah, this is more about the conversational experience science, okay. One thing that the studies already shown to us is, its important for the consumer or for the human to know that they are chatting with a robot, and what that means is, don't pretend to be human. Don't pretend to say that the machine is typing, the idea of chat bots is to provide immediately answers, okay, to be fast. When you start chatting with a chat bot, the chat bot will introduce himself as the robot, okay, and this puts expectation on the customer's side. Okay, "I am chatting with a robot", okay. I know that this robot is not super smart, but this can deal with some things, okay. It's not super smart. And then my expectation will be in the good level to create my expectation and the good experience.

 

Jean:

In terms of the interactions, because it sounds like RCS is embracing the automation end of this, is there any requirement for, say human handover? Or as a brand, what do I have to be mindful of to protect my user experience?

 

Pedro Silva:

The RCS is a channel, okay. This enables you to use all of the different compositional components in order to create, or to do your magic as the conversational designer. In terms of the channel, they just provide us with components, okay, and then it's up to us to create good conversational experience. It's very similar to what we have with web design, right? because at the web, the specification sends you the, all the HTML and all the things that tags and things like this, but then comes the part with web design that will pick that, okay, and we'll create that in the beautiful, meaningful, and that will create a good experience.

 

Jean:

We talked about some of the automation involved in conversational commerce and how that experience will look like. For now, I'm thinking more of a call center environment, because it used to be, telco communication channels are huge as a contact center experience tool. How do you see this being used in terms of RCA helping call center...basically dealing with the volume of calls coming in and so on?

 

Pedro Silva:

Yeah, that's one of my favorite use cases in the RCS or in this type of channels that use mobile phones of the customers to contact. What we are seeing now, especially now with this COVID situation for me, in the daily basis, I will call to some call center and then all the lines are busy, right, and then I need to wait several minutes in order to pick up, for some agent, so a good use case that the market is already shown or showing that is the ability to provide the handover from voice to messaging, okay. To provide that, to make this handover from voice to messaging, especially when you call to a contact center, you will need the customer mobile phone, right? And because you are making phone call, the contact center have access to your mobile number and then can open the ability to divert this voice or to deflect this voice call to a messaging channel. This will make another discovery mechanisms for chat bots okay, and chat bots that rely on mobile phone numbers in order to communicate.

 

Jean:

So, actually, that is a great answer to my big question about discoverability because a lot of businesses, they want to make sure, whenever they enable these channels, that consumers can find them. What would you say will be the best way for brands to let consumers know they have this RCS channel...for them to engage with?

 

Pedro Sá Silva:

Once the user have RCS on their mobile phone, when they are start shutting, they can see a list of chat bots available, or they can search for a chat bot to communicate with. This is the simple way, like we, we do in the Facebook messenger, right? Another way can be a different reach, like for instance, scanning a QR code to start talking with my brand or to receive an engaging messages that I give my consent, once I set the terms and conditions of the brands to be contact with for marketing purposes or for other purposes to allow my brands to reach me, RCS supports all the major and best practices of messaging channels to chat bots. On that part, you can go directly for RCS, and I'm pretty sure that [inaudible 00:13:28] that already using bots in other channels, we'll do a perfect mapping about what is possible in our RCS and existing channels that there is out there.

 

Jean:

So it sounds like RCS needs to be part of the omni-channel strategy now. So if I were to start looking into it as a brand, how do I start?

Pedro Sá Silva:

As SMS, you need to go to your national mobile operator in order to onboard, but who does that? Right? The best way to do it is to go to your mobile cloud service provider or aggregators to handle that for you, they will do and deal with not only one national mobile operator, with all national mobile national operators, that this will speed up the process, I believe.

 

Jean:

I do have a one more question, and this is kind of a personal question, so that we get to know you better, can you name three things that you do most on your phone?

 

Pedro Silva:

Yeah, sure. The first one is messaging, okay. I constantly am messaging with all of my friends and brands, of course. The second one is about email, okay. I also passively check the email and the last, but not least is about my banking app to check the bank, to make the transfers and things like this to say, send money to the kids and things like this.

 

Jean:

Awesome, you're a heavy communicator, and actually, my first guest who mentioned a banking app as one of the top three. So, I will totally remember this. We covered a lot of grounds about RCS and it was rather information packed. If you were to say one thing that you would love people to remember about RCS, what would that be?

 

Pedro Silva:

Yeah, it will be something like RCS is a messaging channel that will replace SMS and it is owned by the trusted national mobile operators, and RCS is also optimized for automation and chat bots.

 

Jean:

That sounds like a wrap, thank you for joining the show.