Marut Gaonkar, Senior Product Manager, and Kris Hayes, Head of Sales and Vice President Americas at SAP Digital Interconnect, look at how a Communications Platform as a Service can orchestrate, simplify and improve the routing and delivery of messages.
We live in a world where brand loyalty cannot be taken for granted, where it’s easier than ever for customers to switch brands, often requiring no more than a click on a link. In this environment, it’s more important than ever that enterprises make it easy for customers to do business with them, and a key part of this process is ensuring that they can engage with you on the channel or channels of their choosing, anytime and anywhere.
Until a few years ago, the primary channels open to brands to engage with customers on a one-to-one basis were e-mail, SMS and the contact center. But today, social is quickly becoming the channel of choice for many customer interactions. The top three social messaging apps in the world – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat – all have more than 1bn monthly active users, and the average customer subscribes to two social channels, and often many more.
It’s not acceptable any more for a brand to say to a customer: “We use Facebook Messenger to engage with our customers, so if you have a question for us, you need to sign up.” The brand must be present on all the most popular social channels, so that customers in any region can contact them easily and quickly whenever they need or want to, and most importantly, on their terms. Brands are today expected to engage with customers on their preferred channels.
Customers will contact brands across different channels for multiple engagements. It’s essential, too, that when a customer contacts a company on one channel, information about previous engagements on other channels is available to the company, so that every conversation is informative and insightful. For customers, few things are more frustrating than having to tell a company about the problem they are experiencing several times over.
Intelligent message routing
The good news is that when brands get this right and deliver a great, personalized customer experience, people appreciate it. It leads to more compelling engagements and higher brand loyalty.
It also enables the enterprise to ask the question to their customers about which channels they prefer to engage on, and then respect those preferences. So, a customer may say that WhatsApp is their preferred communications channel, followed by Facebook Messenger and then SMS. Armed with this information, the brand can send everyday alerts and notifications via WhatsApp, but failover to SMS if the customer cannot be reached on WhatsApp, perhaps because they are out and about and have used up their data allowance. This way they can deliver important, timely messages. Brands can also escalate a high priority message to a different channel such as from WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger, based on whether the message was opened (and thus read) by the customer, ensuring customer engagement. This type of intelligent message routing, with automated escalation, means that more messages get through to the right person at the right time and on the right channel, leading to happier, more loyal customers.
Intelligent message routing enables customers to communicate with users through various messaging channels. This acts as both a decision-maker and message dispatcher. It makes the decision as to which channel to use, which channel to failover to if the preferred channel is not available, and also does the complex work of formatting the message correctly for each channel downstream via a channel abstraction layer. Because each channel has its own specifications; it expects the message to be sent in a certain way. This formatting is especially beneficial when using social channels. The channel abstraction layer enables the enterprise to create one message, which is then automatically formatted for delivery on each channel.
Integrating social channels offers other benefits such as support for multimedia content in digital engagement that is not possible via SMS. For example, a company can send a PDF invoice to a customer or an image confirming the location of a parcel that has been delivered to them while they were out. Or, someone who finds themselves in a new place can contact a retailer or a favorite restaurant chain and share their location with one click, so that the retailer or restaurant chain can send back an offer with other details like a product list or restaurant menu along with locations of all their outlets within, say a 20-minute walk. When contacting support, customers can also send videos or screen shots of their issues which will help brands provide better support.
CPaaS and APIs
If you recognize the importance of being available on multiple channels, and using the customers’ channel of choice to engage with them, the next step is obviously to integrate these channels with your business apps and processes. This is a task any enterprise can take on, since almost all social and other digital communications channels expose their APIs to enable brands to integrate with their platforms. But integrating with each channel individually can be a lengthy and complex process, since each channel has its own integration requirements and API specifications. Note also that WhatsApp is only available on integrations through verified Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) providers like SAP Digital Interconnect.
If you choose to work with a CPaaS leader, they will have already done the hard work of integrating with each channel, so you can be up and running in days rather than months via a single, simple API that has integrated with all the different channel APIs on the back end. The CPaaS provider will also be constantly monitoring the digital landscape to add new channels as they gain traction and more people start using them. Not only does this save development time, it increases the speed at which you can bring new offerings to market. CPaaS leaders will facilitate your multichannel engagement capabilities and will provide you with analytics that help improve your customer engagement experience.
In short, working with a good CPaaS provider will give you more features, more choice, and the reassurance of knowing that your brand can be found and engaged on the channels where each individual customer wants to reach you.
Want to learn how CPaaS multichannel solutions and intelligent decision services can improve your engagement strategy and customer experiences? Read “The Business Value of CPaaS and Key Attributes When Selecting the Best CPaaS Partner” and “The Critical Role of CPaaS in Reaching Customers on their Channels of Choice” white papers and join our community.