Modern day consumers demand a well-rounded and intelligent omnichannel customer experience that allows them to engage with brands through text, voice and video across a multitude of mobile, website and social channels. Cloud-based communications fit this exact description and are revolutionizing the way businesses are dealing with their customers today. By leveraging cloud technologies, organizations can integrate, automate, and enhance the experiences of their customers. Organizations must get their hands on this multi-dimensional array of communication to cater to new-age customers. To make yourself stand out, it is crucial that you make the right decision in choosing a cloud service vendor. Let us lead you to your first step towards digitally transforming the way you deal with your customers.
1 – Range of Products and Offerings
Recently, there has been an emergence of CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) providers that are taking advantage of API driven programmable web interfaces to offer telephony services over the cloud. According to Gartner’s market guide for the evolving CPaaS space, CPaaS vendors are diversifying their product scope to target a wider range of use cases in an increasingly competitive environment. Their services range from basic use cases such as voice, video, and text messaging to more complex applications that include call routing, streaming, and multi-party communication facilities; all that can be customized according to each organization’s individual needs. When picking a CPaaS provider it’s crucial for them to have multiple communication functionalities and deliver a wide range of APIs that can seamlessly integrate customized voice, video, or messaging into applications and websites. When Emmi Group, the largest dairy producer in Switzerland, began its digital transformation, the target was creating a personalized customer experience. They utilized a communication API from a CPaaS provider and easily managed to integrate email services into their existing digital marketing platform, leading to a 31% increase in customer traffic and a three-fold increase in conversion rate too. With the consistent growth of CPaaS, an increasing number of use cases emerge as developers continue to benefit from the simplified communications tools available to them. An organization must decide which service aligns with their business goals and their customers’ needs the most before finalizing its route. The following list contains some CPaaS vendors and the extensive array of products they offer.
2 – Local, regional or global presence?
Choosing between a local, regional, or global cloud communication provider isn’t as simple as it was before. Organizations could easily make the distinction; if they were looking for lower costs they would look off-shore, but if they required a lag-free and customizable cloud they would rather shop locally. However, ever since the global giants (Amazon, Microsoft, etc.) started setting up their operations in almost every country, they have become geographically closer which has changed the way organizations arrive at a decision. Instead of choosing between latency or costs, they have to sort their business priorities. Global cloud communication vendors benefit from economies of scale unmatchable by local vendors and also have partnerships with local telecoms and governments to help them digitally transform. For instance, Vonage has established partnerships with over 1600 telecommunications networks globally that have helped them consolidate and virtualize the communications framework of organizations worldwide. Regional and local vendors, on the other hand, also hold their own against global tech giants. They place emphasis on individual attention and specialty services that strengthen an organization’s local contact with their customers when on-going support and emergency response is needed, distinguishing them from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Twilio, and Vonage. A Verizon report based around Cloud Communication vendors for New Zealand found that connection speed to Australian data centers was approximately 24ms for a round trip compared to the 120ms that international data centers in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US took. This made them conclude that regional Australian vendors were still slower than the local cloud vendors. Ideally, for organizations in New Zealand, low-cost global cloud vendors would work for low priority tasks. Whereas, for high priority tasks where speed is essential, a local New Zealand vendor would be perfect.
3 – Omnichannel approach
A report by Aberdeen Group found that organizations with strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers. A provider must serve as the instrumental enabler of your customer’s omnichannel journeys from the device of their choice. By guaranteeing a consistent user interface that allows effortless access to directories and other vital tasks online, your customer’s convenience is ensured. Organizations looking to reap the benefits of an omnichannel approach can benefit the most by adopting a CPaaS approach through a CPaaS provider, as it’s carefully designed to help unlock the true value of omnichannel. CPaaS providers handle all the back-end work and you will only have to manage the app. Many organizations are deploying CPaaS to create a collaborative communication platform that ensures great customer experience. Creating customized customer-driven experiences and expanding them through various channels provide a multitude of options for your customers to choose from. Blueface and Message Hopper are API-driven calling and messaging platforms that enable two-way communications that can help a hotel or a restaurant provide advanced cloud-based services to their customers. Paired with a cloud-optimized workforce, they serve as instruments for employees to provide their customers with quality interactions in the most cost-effective way possible.
4 – Cohabitation with other clouds
While cloud vendors offer a variety of options and SLAs to guarantee uptime and backups to ensure data integrity, they rely on the assumption that the provider’s infrastructure does not fail at once. An organization’s whole reputation cannot be on a supposition which why it’s best that you have multiple vendors for failover. An example of such forward-thinking would be that of Uber’s. A CPaaS solution changed the way they deliver their services. Uber uses two cloud communication service providers – Vonage and Twilio for failover. Doing this has given them the freedom to quickly and efficiently scale up services to meet their users’ growing demand and usage whilst saving costs. Flexibility is the primary benefit of a multi-cloud approach. Organizations and application developers can pick the components of their choice from a variety of vendors for each purpose. You could use Amazon Web Services for Alexa Skills, a digital assistant, and a voice and video component from a different provider.
5 – Flexible consumption models
Having the ability to add features on-demand and remove them when they’re no longer being used can allow you to be more flexible with the facilities you provide your customers. Having the option to scale up or down also provides an edge for small but growing companies wanting to assist their customers in the best way possible. Dell and Twilio offer their flexible payment solutions to optimize your IT spend according to your customers’ demands. Dell Technologies offer commitment-based, usage-based, and subscription-based payment options for you to pay as you grow and pay for only what you consume. Twilio, on the other hand, provide simple and flexible pricing options such as pay-as-you-go usage, volume discounts, and committed-use discounts as well. Such flexible models can help you cater to your customer’s preferences according to their purchase histories. Vonage is another cloud communications service provider that has pricing models available according to an organization’s size and has an impressive 99.999% uptime reliability. Each plan has carefully curated features best suited to a small, medium, or enterprise-level organization. Personalizing your customer’s experience can go a long way and it’s in you and your customers’ best interest that a cloud service provider has a flexible consumption model in place.
6 – Service Level Agreements
An ITIC poll revealed that an hour of downtime can cost 98% of businesses at least $100,000. To avoid these mishaps, it’s important that you examine your potential provider’s track record and if their servers have ever gone down. Emphasize and insist on a service-level agreement that ensures the provider’s commitment to service availability and the consequences if that commitment isn’t met. A cloud service provider that shares the same philosophy of commitment to stellar service as you should be your top priority, as your organization’s emergency response to a cloud wide outage determines your reputation. To ensure 24/7 availability, businesses make the move to cloud-based communications because it’s a hosted service; which means in the case of an unforeseen event or disaster, your business communications lines are still open and up and running. Your employees are still able to work from any place and communicate with your customers. Customers can also reach your business to speak with an agent. However, cloud-based platforms often have to go offline to resolve software glitches or carry out routine maintenance which can create problems for your business and disrupt its flow. It can affect your customer service and consequently, reflect poorly on your brand. Make sure you choose a cloud platform that is purpose-built for disaster recovery; one that features a high level of system redundancy by using two virtual instances to store your apps and data. Determine how well your vendor’s response time is if corrective action or technical assistance is needed. Check whether those providing guidance will be data experts or those that lack technical skills. This ensures your apps run off of the extra instance in case your primary has to go offline for maintenance and upgrades.
7 – Focus on Security
Security threats such as call fraud, phreaking, malware, and denial of service attacks can make sensitive information vulnerable unless your provider has the necessary measures in place. Cloud communications providers often offer security measures such as data encryption authentication protocols to secure voice communication in the cloud. Typically, in-house IT teams or locally managed systems cannot promise this level of security. Multi-factor authentication confirms user identity by combining verification methods like passwords, fingerprints, questions, and codes sent directly to your smartphone. Patch management also guarantees your data security by improving systems and keeping them updated at all times to make it less vulnerable to hackers. Vonage’s commitment to security is one of the best in the space and is reflected in the various measures they take to ensure physical, system, and application security. Before choosing a cloud service provider, make sure they have state of the art cybersecurity measures installed to protect your data because a data breach could make you lose customers. According to RapidScale, 94% of businesses noticed an improvement in security after switching to the cloud. Therefore, it is important to ensure the security and compliance certifications of the provider you choose are assured as that cloud service provider will have access to key operational assets of your organization. Your organization’s reputation in the eyes of your customers must be upheld.
8 – Before, During, and After-Sales Support Structures
A vendor should provide you with post-sale support services that are tailored for your organization’s needs and make you boast in satisfaction about your experience with them. For example, Ali Baba Cloud has created personalized support services for small-scale and large-scale organizations to safeguard the security and stability of business operations. Each of their after-sales support plans is divided into the basic, developer, business, and enterprise categories that provide technical support, case handling, and premium support that includes third-party software and architecture support too. Support services such as professionally staffed call centers for technical and warranty support also meet the demands for consistent service-quality and professional guidance. Leveraging your vendor’s technical support team will also free up your technical resources to work on other high-value projects. Your engineers will welcome the troubleshooting they conduct and the details they provide too. Vendors that make sure you have a great experience by taking ownership of service functionality and seeing it through to the end, set them apart and make them superior to the others.
Does the shoe fit? Decide the TransformX way
At TransformX, our customer obsession is aligned with our digital-first mindset. The TransformX approach enables organizations in rethinking customer experience through innovative and disruptive methods of communication. Our signature Cloud Communications offering helps clients carefully select new CPaaS solutions (or replace existing ones) as a result of a deep study of organizational, functional, and technical dynamics. A comprehensive review of the merits and demerits of the existing CPaaS solution(s) is also offered along with CPaaS program oversight initiatives. We look forward to assisting you in your digital and customer transformation journey by combining elements of the above mentioned Cloud Communications sub offerings — New CpaaS Acquisition, Existing CPaaS Review, and CPaaS Program Oversight. We help you make decisions that are customer-driven and identify the gaps in your customer approach to better your services. Start your customer-centric journey with us now!