As many people practice social distancing and in some cases isolation, technology has proven our greatest ally, keeping us connected person to person and business to consumer. Before the pandemic, people were already engaging with companies across multiple channels, by voice, text, chat, video, and social media, growing accustomed to choosing how we want to engage and getting a quick response. Now, as people are dispersed and businesses shut down, albeit temporary, these multi-channel communications have become vital. Companies and organizations have been resourceful during these uncertain times, exploring new outlets, some even changing business models as they move quickly to communicate in real-time with customers, employees and associates.
Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) makes this possible, allowing businesses of all sizes to add real-time communications like SMS messaging, click to talk and chatbots to existing applications using APIs and DSKs. These features and capabilities can be embedded within hours, with businesses able to pick and choose what you want to deploy and when, without expensive developer costs. CPaaS solutions can be a godsend right now, as you focus on maintaining end-user relationships and business continuity.
How Businesses Are Using CPaaS
Despite everything going on in the world, customers still want to engage with brands and are still interested in products and services. How they obtain those goods, however has changed. Online retail has seen a surge as people shelter in place and avoid in-person interactions. Alibaba and Amazon report substantial increases in online sales, 19% and 26% respectively, indicating people are shopping. While SMBs might think that they can’t compete with these retail behemoths, The New York Times reports that Amazon is struggling to keep up with demands – opening the market up for competitors. This is an opportunity for retailers IF they get the right digital communications in place and move quickly. Consumers need products. They don’t care where they come from as long as they get them in hand. With the sharp spike in shipping demands and prioritization of certain goods (PPE and essentials), it levels the playing field a bit for smaller businesses that might have previously struggled to compete on shipping times. CPaaS solutions can be used to communicate product and order updates, respond to inquiries and act as marketing tools, creating customized and personalized communications based on buyer behavior, online activity, purchase history and how the customer engages with the brand.
Brick and mortar stores and restaurants can benefit from these solutions as well, as many institute curbside pickup and delivery, while facing health concerns and government restrictions. CPaaS features like automated calls and texts make these interactions safer and more efficient, but can also bring major cost savings, eliminating the need to pay exorbitant fees ranging from 13.5-40% to third-party delivery services. Businesses can directly connect with customers, send special promotions and loyalty rewards, and even target nearby customers using geofencing.
Changing Customer Communications
“Old school” methods business used to have sales people deploy like calls and emails have morphed into real-time interactions through text, chat and social media. As we continue to face unknowns, people depend on businesses to be there, available across multiple platforms, ready to respond quickly when we need something, providing real-time updates the instant we place an order. Although this can be challenging and seemingly impossible for some businesses, CPaaS can easily embed these communication solutions directly into a company’s website or app.
Features can be added to automatically answer common questions and inquiries via chat, text or voice regarding products, orders or services. These capabilities can provide tremendous relief for businesses being bogged down right now with an influx of customers calls and messages; from retailers fielding orders, processing returns and addressing inquiries to financial institutions dealing with travel cancellations and billing disputes. Bloomberg reported contact centers in the financial sector are experiencing excessive hold times, some almost 30 times the average seasonal rate. Having these automated, smart responses not only alleviates contact centers but also brings greater customer satisfaction by eliminating long wait times. Helpshift’s State of Customer Service Automation 2019 report, when surveyed about chatbots, reported 83% of consumers said they’d make messaging their primary means of contacting customer support if they could be guaranteed an immediate response. Gartner predicts by 2022, 85% of customer service interactions will start with self-service, up from 48% in 2019. In a today’s technology-driven society of instant gratification, consumers care about getting the fastest response, live person not necessary.
Embracing the Experience-Driven Economy
Along with the demand for instant engagement and rapid responses, today’s consumers expect to have personal experiences and meaningful connections with brands. This is something that many businesses struggle with, not knowing how to approach it or having the financial means or resources to manage it. CPaaS, although offering a lot of automation, at the same time provides businesses with a toolkit of communications to create a personalized, tailored customer experience. Every interaction is a chance to further develop relationships and build customer loyalty. CPaaS provides insights into customer preferences and response patterns which, in turn, can be used to create tailored communications. Businesses can segment customers and use more targeted, strategic communications. How and when customers choose to communicate can be used to their advantage, noticing these patterns and following suit can make messages feel less intrusive, foster stronger relationships and increase engagement.
Along with business updates, order status and targeted product promotions, these touchpoints can be used to build a connection with the brand. Incorporating the company’s personality and values into communications can go a long way. With many people being inundated with generic messaging that sometimes reads insincere, businesses should keep not only the customer experience but the human experience in mind, making sure communications are thoughtful, timely and relevant. Read Humanizing the Customer Experience to learn how to create lasting human experience to instill confident, connections and satisfaction in products and services.
The Future of CPaaS
It is clear that having real-time communications can help you not only sustain but succeed during these uncertain times, and these communication methods will continue to be in demand indefinitely. Features like talk, text and chat are now part of the buying experience. Synergy Research Group reports CPaaS has the highest growth rate across all UC and collaboration market segments and is expected to hit $17.2 billion by 2023.
With consumers being connected 24/7 through smart mobile devices, expectations have grown for businesses to provide continual customer support across multiple communication channels. Failing to do so can ostracize customers, jeopardizing sales. As communications develop, many businesses do not have the means to quickly modify applications or build out new systems. CPaaS offers businesses the communication capabilities to meet end-user demands and stay competitive with easy to deploy, scalable cloud-based solutions.
Read What is CPaaS and Does Your Business Need It? to learn more.
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