Michael Smith, Product Manager, SAP Live Link 365 at SAP Digital Interconnect, shares how the right CPaaS provider helps improve the success of a customer engagement API project.
The concept of the Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is well established. It describes the use of cloud computing services to enable organisations to deliver sophisticated, multichannel communications and omnichannel experiences, without the need to build and maintain all the infrastructure – and make all the connections – needed to deliver such services themselves.
These digital communications services are more important than ever in an age when customers are constantly redefining how they communicate with brands, and how they want companies to communicate and engage with them. If your customers are using SMS, e-mail, and social channels for their different needs – perhaps SMS for delivery notifications, e-mail for detailed product information, and WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for two-way customer service queries – then your company needs to be available on each, if not all, of those channels. And if you’re doing business in parts of the world where other social channels are popular or emerging, then you need to be available on those channels too – and quickly.
This, of course, is what CPaaS enables, but not all CPaaS providers offer the same capabilities, so when choosing who to work with, there are some critical questions to ask.
APIs simplify complexity
APIs are critical software development tools in the digital economy that unlock multichannel communications and simplify integration complexity seamlessly and easily. CPaaS leaders will provide use cases and sample code to make it quicker to develop and deploy new services that meet customer needs. Developers can then copy the code in Java, Python, C# or other coding languages and add to their software.
Developers need a mix of resources at key development stages, from the analysis of a service to the initial build, through to proofs of concept, testing, production and support. When testing, access to technical resources are important if the developer runs into issues. In an Ovum-SAP Digital Interconnect survey, 64 per cent of successful projects were attributed to stringent internal testing and troubleshooting. This is difficult work, and access to these technical resources are essential to ensure the solution works as planned.
Once it’s deployed, access to support staff and debugging tools are vital. The CPaaS provider should provide support throughout the entire process, including accessible documentation, security and authentication services, developer support forums and communities, and targeted support for individual developers, including the options they can set in the API, such as message sent and message read alerts.
Analytics offer insight
CPaaS leaders also provide analytics that deliver insight into areas such as customer usage and performance of the app or service. What channel elicits the best response from each customer? What time of day do they tend to respond? How does the performance of different channels vary from one country to the next? The availability of a comprehensive analytics dashboard makes it possible – indeed easy – to optimise the performance of each app or services, based on how end customers are using it.
These analytics, in fact can prove that you achieved what you were trying to achieve, whether it’s efficiency improvements, cost reductions, increased customer satisfaction or higher revenues. Armed with this data, you’re much more likely to get approval for ongoing development.
Recently, a large logistics company needed to reduce the number of inbound contact center calls relating to missed deliveries. By using API-driven digital communications, customers can now be notified when their package will arrive and when it was delivered.
By integrating intelligent messaging routing and failover elements, messages are delivered to the customer via their preferred channel. If the message could not be delivered or if it was not opened within a given timeframe, it would be resent using the next-preferred channel. By doing so, the company significantly reduced the number of missed delivery calls, saving money and time, and improving customer satisfaction. This was a case where, via the analytics dashboard, it could prove that the money spent on messaging helped avoid the cost of servicing the calls coming into the call center.
CPaaS leaders also provide integrated APIs that easily work with existing business systems and data repositories, from CRM systems, to contact centers, or IoT networks. This ability to integrate with internal systems gives developers the ability to add or upgrade functionality to the solutions without encountering security, data privacy, connectivity, and other obstacles that often threaten an API project’s success.
Single-point API vendors, on the other hand, are often not prepared to integrate with legacy systems and third-party platforms. They also often lack many of the factors that a good CPaaS provider will deliver as standard, such as customer service, flexible pricing, documentation, and other key enablement resources.
It’s one thing to expose an API, and quite another to have an infrastructure with the service level agreements behind it; experience of working successfully in different countries across hundreds of enterprises in different verticals; knowledge of what’s needed for legal compliance and best practices in each; plus the ability to integrate with other business systems, such as SAP Marketing Cloud and SAP Customer Data Cloud for example.
In short, a CPaaS leader should offer expertise across multiple disciplines that deliver value for the developer and the enterprise. To learn more about how you can realize the benefits of CPaaS, read “Communications APIs: Mapping the Developer Lifecycle”; “The Business Value of CPaaS and Key Attributes When Selecting the Best CPaaS Partner”; “The Critical Role of CPaaS in Reaching Customers on their Channels of Choice”; and join our community.