SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Michael Finneran | April 03, 2018 |

 
   

Mobile Text: A Tale of Two Experiences

Mobile Text: A Tale of Two Experiences To boost the mobile experience, contact centers ultimately will need to support both Apple Business Chat and industry-standard Rich Communication Service channels.

To boost the mobile experience, contact centers ultimately will need to support both Apple Business Chat and industry-standard Rich Communication Service channels.

Text messaging generated significant interest last month at Enterprise Connect 2018, with the major buzz revolving around the use of business-to-consumer (B2C) text as a vehicle to support enhanced mobile commerce from the contact center. From all of the discussion, my takeaway is that delivering that next level of customer engagement will require contact centers to support two separate mobile text options: one for Apple users and another for everyone else.

As contact centers make the transition to omnichannel engagement, the ability to support customers via text, particularly when augmented with artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced chatbots, appears to be gaining on voice as the vehicle of choice. While support for voice calls remains necessary for untangling particularly complex problems, replacing live voice agent service with some flavor of mobile text interaction is high on the priority list.

From Simple to Rich Messaging
Mobile texting was easy to support when the only option was the mobile operators' ubiquitous Short Message Service (SMS), a universal solution that relies on mobile numbers for addressing. Of course, SMS is exclusively text-based, with a maximum message size of 160 characters (though extended through the end devices). And it's now effectively open for commerce by communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) providers like Twilio.

Amazon and other vendors with enough market strength can get users to download customized apps that can include chat capabilities, or companies can depend on Web chat for brief, focused exchanges. However, for building customer relationships, persistent chat is the preferred option, and most marketers will have to depend on publicly available services that fall into two groups: SMS (or "enhanced SMS") and premium texting services like Apple iMessage, WeChat (in China), WhatsApp, and even BlackBerry Messenger.

By enhanced SMS, we're talking about the long-promised upgrade to SMS called Rich Communication Services (RCS). This 3GPP-defined standard for mobile texting promises to bring key features of the premium services (for example, typing indication, delivery/read notification, and multimedia) to SMS.

RCS offers a new and better lingua franca for mobile texting, but while Google, Samsung, and most others in the Android ecosystem are starting to build toward the RCS Universal Profile, Apple has been a persistent holdout. From the start, Apple has steadfastly refused to support RCS, and as of last week, with the iOS 11.3 release, it now supports richer customer engagement via iMessage on Apple devices with its proprietary Business Chat capability (for related coverage, read my previous No Jitter post). (Note, I've heard some sources claim that Apple will one day succumb to market pressure, making its support for RCS inevitable. To be clear, these are people who either have no understanding of how Apple works, or have something to sell you that's predicated on that groundless assumption.)

Apple has a great messaging app in iMessage, and it integrates with SMS, too, -- but it makes sure you know the difference. With Apple's proprietary iMessage, the network automatically identifies when you're texting another Apple user, and you get group chat, pictures, videos, emojis, Animojis, typing indication, delivery notification, user selectable "Read" indication... and the list goes on. For SMS, you get text only -- and the message appears in green (rather than Apple blue) to remind you that you're texting someone who hasn't bought into the Apple way of doing things. In short, you're getting the inferior SMS capability, and it's your own fault.

The thing you must understand about Apple is that it's not going out of its way to do anything to help anyone else, least of all its competitors. Apple wants you to know SMS stinks, so on its platform, that's all you're getting in the way of alternatives to iMessage -- no enhanced SMS, or RCS. You want to abandon the "Apple Club?" Here's what your messaging is going to look like -- unless you get all your friends to install WhatsApp and go that way.

Even though Samsung and the other Android platform providers committed to RCS represent a much bigger slice of the worldwide market than Apple, a lot of the upper-income population is still in the Apple camp -- and that's an audience marketers covet.

Strategic Planning
So, what's a contact center to do? If you can get away with it, do nothing, or at least wait on it. If you're not in a highly consumer-focused business, or you're fairly sure your clientele is not going to demand the latest and greatest in mobile experiences, you should probably hold off. Supporting Business Chat or RCS, or both, is going to cost money, and if you don't need to spend it now, don't. As time goes on, the cost to implement these capabilities will go down.

On the other hand, if you're in a leading-edge consumer business, catering to that tech-savvy young executive class, it's time to start moving on a richer mobile messaging experience. But, to which format do you design your interface: Business Chat or RCS? The answer, unfortunately, is both.

Given Apple's market presence and attractiveness of its customer base, there's a good chance that many contact centers will first roll out support for Business Chat-based enhanced mobile experiences. Genesys and Twilio are working on it, but surprisingly, many of the contact center folks I spoke to at EC18 didn't seem to know what any of this is. That's really scary, but I'm sure they have their inventory of toll-free numbers squared away.

Some think you can get away with simply doing Business Chat, but no marketer in his or her right mind is going to intentionally alienate a significant chunk of a company's customer base. Marketers will have to build something for the Android/RCS base as well, and since neither Samsung nor any of the other major Android platforms has a messaging app or Business Chat equivalent of its own, RCS is the only advanced texting option on the table.

With all of the confounding issues and unknowns in the contact center business today with chatbots, AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics, it's nice to see that at least something is clear. Text is the next big communication channel companies need to master for customer engagement, and SMS is too limiting a tool. Better tools are there in the way of Business Chat and RCS, but, unfortunately, Apple's recalcitrance around RCS will keep it separate.

I wish I could tell you there's a simple way around this, but Apple isn't known for making things simple -- except for its users. The one hope for unification is that Apple's market position diminishes over time and as such it'll be forced into the RCS camp -- but that scenario is long term and speculative.

The good news is that even though creating two interfaces will increase the call center's expense, the type of mobile user experience we'll be able to deliver will go up exponentially for each of these two mobile communities.

Follow Michael Finneran on Twitter.
@dBrnWireless





COMMENTS




August 29, 2018

Moving your voice services to the cloud introduces new challenges for 9-1-1 services. These include the need to serve multiple locations, and the increased mobility that comes with having a phone t

August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

June 20, 2018

Your enterprise may have adopted SIP Trunks, but are you up to date on how the latest technology is driving evolution in approaches?

In this webinar, youll learn how the new generation of SI

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.