What is CPaaS and How Can Marketers Use it to Improve Customer Experience?



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What is CPaaS and How Can Marketers Use it to Improve Customer Experience?

Omnichannel is fast becoming the industry standard for effective communication strategies, however, most enterprises struggle to make omnichannel a practical reality due to the huge upfront and maintenance costs involved. Here's how CPaaS helps brands deliver better customer engagement through omnichannel messaging more efficiently.  When was the last time we used a landline telephone to make an overseas call? VoIP, Instant Messaging, video conferencing and chat have already transformed the consumer market, and the same is now true for enterprises as well. Marketing success today means reaching and responding to consumers where they are, on whatever device they’re using, in real time.

Omnichannel messaging is rapidly becoming the cornerstone for marketers and brands looking to deliver better customer experiences, increase brand visibility, and open up new channels for customer interaction. In fact, a new Aberdeen Group study states that companies with a strong omnichannel marketing strategy retained on average, 87% of their customers and witnessed a 9.3% year-on-year revenue growth. There’s absolutely no doubt that it’s incredibly important for businesses to have a single platform that addresses all of their omnichannel communication or engagement needs. However, implementing a unified communication platform is an arduous task for the average business. After all, once we zero down on a set of viable engagement platforms, how do we then rope in support for the wide range of services that your customers have grown to expect? How do you manage and coordinate the messages sent across these platforms (voice, text, and video) to deliver a consistent experience?

This is a problem area where brands get stuck. Stitching together disparate communications platforms such as voice, video, and text will mean pouring an inordinate amount of money, time and effort into building a solution that may or may not work. The issue is compounded by the fact that you also risk building soloed product-based structures that can’t adapt to ever-changing customer preferences.

This is where CPaaS steps in. CPaaS helps brands deliver seamless cross-platform communication through a single managed hub.

Now the major question is: What is CPaaS?

CPaaS leverages cloud technology to offer businesses of all sizes the ability to develop and embed communication features without having to invest in purpose-built applications. It provides businesses with a complete development framework that integrates real-time communication (RTC) features into their existing communication stack. CPaaS typically includes software tools, sample codes, pre-built applications and standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs). CPaaS vendors also offer product support and documentation to help developers throughout the development process. Certain vendors also provide software development kits (SDKs) and libraries for building applications on different systems (desktops, mobiles, etc.)

A CPaaS solution helps brands execute engagement strategies over multiple channels and devices, along with smart workflows to build seamless customer journeys. Essentially, this means that a customer could communicate with the brand seamlessly via multiple channels (text, video, voice) from inside the same user interface or app, without having to switch the screen.

Although marketing automation has been around for some time now, automation tools usually lack the ability to integrate standalone communication platforms like text, voice and over the top (OTT) chat and video into business workflows. While marketing automation tools are still integral to messaging, we need to expand their scope to incorporate multiple messaging channels, more data, and better segmentation than before.

CPaaS: The next frontier of integrated communications

Whether we realize it or not, most enterprise communication frameworks have gaps or blind spots in how they enable communication with each other, or customers, or vendors. It could be something as simple as interacting with customers through text messages at scale, or as complex as manually logging customer calls. CPaaS, with its API-driven architecture, enables organizations to leverage voice, video, and messaging elements with ease.

The CPaaS space was originally driven by startups such as Infobip, Twilio, Plivo and TokBox, which offer APIs for embedding communications, while legacy communication vendors including Genband’s Kandy and Avaya’s Breeze have now introduced new CPaaS services. It is also interesting to note that enterprise communication behemoths Cisco and Vonage has acquired startups such as Tropo and Nexmo respectively. The growth of the CPaaS market is aligned with emerging trends in customer-facing communications. One of the key growth drivers of the CPaaS market is the need for contextual communications that augments customer experience. Say, for instance, you can order a pizza using an online food delivery app, but when you want to call the restaurant and change your order, you have to use the phone because there is no feature within the app that lets you call them directly. This is because developing and maintaining a system that dependably handles RTC is unreasonably expensive and complicated. Until CPaas, that is.

Speaking about the ROI and navigating the blindspots of customer experience, Rob’s tip to marketers is, “Look for friction in your customer journeys. Good indicators can be spots where your customers are leaving a task or transaction incomplete, unnecessarily calling customer service, or searching for information on your website. Optimize ROI by focusing on the customer, measuring cost and benefit for the journey end-to-end, and embracing iteration. Understanding the customer journey as a system of independent pieces that work together to deliver that customer goal allows you to measure the cost at each point in the value chain.”

As a marketer, you know that your customers have unique interests and needs, but we also know that certain groups of customers behave in similar ways. One of the key facets of omnichannel communications, as powered by CPaaS tools, is segmenting your customers into groups, who can receive personalized messages that highlight their online behavior. Within a CPaaS system, it’s easy to say, “Thank you Chris for being such a the valuable customer here’s 11% off your next upgrade of our Email Marketing Software” and also say, “Thank you Lee for being such a valuable customer, here’s 9% off your next purchase of our Content Marketing research paper” for customers with similar buying profiles, even though the product is completely different. CPaaS also helps you understand how your customers like receiving your message. While Chris likes to interact over emails, Lee likes SMS – this is how you reach those sub-segments of each larger segment.

Speaking about how CPaaS is set to transform the WebRTC space, Adrian opines, “CPaaS platforms already use WebRTC for a variety of communications services, from voice and video to chat. In that sense, WebRTC is a channel available to users of CPaaS services, integrated into their offering and available to customers – enterprises or developers – through APIs and SDKs for smartphone app integration. The challenge of WebRTC is how to achieve a sustainable and continual quality of real-time communications. We’ve all seen a video call freeze or experience delays, which significantly impacts the user experience. This should be a consideration for enterprises that need reliable communications solutions. WebRTC is entirely cloud-based, and it would need to be a part of an enterprise’s overarching cloud communications strategy since on-site options are not viable.

The solution would be a full-stack CPaaS platform with a resilient global IP backbone to deliver reliable communications via WebRTC and enable a minimum of latency for maximum user experience. With APIs or other integration options, including a hybrid cloud/on-premises an approach built on top of global infrastructure, the enterprise or developer can make the most of this flexible protocol that offers much communication opportunities.”

Choosing the right CPaaS provider

As with any major purchasing decision, asking the right questions can help you select a service provider that works for you and grows with you. Since CPaaS is still a relatively young market the segment, here are a few make-or-break questions that you need to ask yourself before you take the leap.

What are the features that your business needs? Most CPaaS vendors offer basic voice and messaging services, however, there are a few niche players who also offer services such as MMS, video messaging, group messaging, etc. Before zeroing down on a CPaaS vendor, you need to ensure that your business exactly needs.

Does the platform meet all your security and compliance requirements? A great CPaaS solution delivers built-in scalability, security, and compliance as a result of being hosted on the cloud. With a scalable and secure CPaaS solution, apps built on the platform feature the benefits of those measures with zero additional effort from your end.

Does the platform offer flexibility to make changes and APIs to support integrations? The best thing about a CPaaS solution is the extensive customization options that it offers, allowing you to pick the exact features your business needs and updating them as your business evolves. Solutions that provide code-level access to make modifications to the CPaaS solution is a huge plus that will help you increase productivity and drive bottom-line business growth.

Finding the answers to these questions will help you differentiate CPaaS vendors, pinpoint potential providers and eventually find the perfect fit. Successfully implementing a CPaaS strategy will help you add scalably, flexible messaging to internal and customer-facing applications without making a huge, upfront investment in back-end infrastructure.

 

 



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