This content is part of the Essential Guide: Integrating unified communications products and other UC trends

CPaaS brings contextual communication to customer interactions

Organizations that want to compete in an increasingly digital world and improve customer experience will find contextual communication benefits with communications platform as a service.

Customers these days are using more communication channels, and organizations need to meet these customers where they’re communicating the most, said IHS Markit analyst Diane Myers. Customers no longer communicate through just voice or SMS as channels such as social media, video conferencing and virtual assistants grow in popularity.

A significant roadblock to customer engagement today is the silos between communication channels. Many customers navigate multiple channels before completing a transaction, which creates a loss of context for customers as they switch channels, according to Francisco Kattan, head of platform marketing at Nexmo, a communications API platform and Vonage subsidiary.

“The problem is while customers think they’re having a single conversation with a brand, the reality is the brand is siloed into multiple channels,” he said in a recent webinar.

Each time a customer moves to a new channel, context needs to be re-established, which includes information such as the customer’s identity and location. Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) can create contextual communication for both customers and agents as communication tools are embedded into an organization’s website, mobile app or contact center platform.

While organizations that use CPaaS today are early adopters, companies that include CPaaS as part of their digital transformation strategies will reap the benefits of contextual communication, Kattan said.

Market disruptors fuel need for CPaaS

Digital-native startups — such as Airbnb and Uber — created communications disruption by using APIs to reach customers on their preferred channels, Myers said. Older, established organizations need to play catch-up to compete with these disruptive startups, and CPaaS and contextual communication can help.

Myers said organizations need to create a roadmap for what they want their products and customer experience to look like five to 10 years down the road. They should focus on building a customer experience that can happen anytime and anywhere regardless of the customer’s channel.

“This enables companies to dive deep and customize their experience that is very unique and direct with their applications,” she said.

CPaaS APIs allow established companies to add new capabilities quickly, such as call recording or real-time transcription, without having to invest in more communications infrastructure, Kattan said.

For example, Staples has used CPaaS as part of its Easy System, an IoT-driven virtual assistant that helps organizations manage office supplies. Staples developed the service to compete with Amazon. Employees can order office supplies, track orders or connect with a contact center agent on various channels, such as voice commands on an Easy System IoT device or mobile app, email, SMS messaging and a Slack integration.

“As more startups disrupt,” Kattan said, “established companies will innovate with communication APIs to deliver a better experience more effectively.”