The various teams in your organization have similar and at the same time very different needs. Sales teams generally request integration with Salesforce and revenue operations tooling. Marketing, integration into toolsets like Hubspot and Marketo. Product teams need a feedback loop that will provide insights into usability and trends for customer use cases identifying gaps and popular (and unpopular) features. Customer Support needs integration into ticketing and help systems. Customer Success needs tight integration with success platforms tied to customer experiences and outcomes. All of these teams need reporting that delivers clarity on progress with established KPI/OKR targets in mind.
The implication here is that managing all of these well is a tall order for any growing business, but your communication strategy can’t take a back seat, it needs to be a first-class citizen. After all, it’s the first thing your customers will interact with to communicate with you!
Your cloud communications strategy will tie into all of your organizational disciplines, and there needs to be enough flexibility for your teams to grow. So how will you decide which providers or platforms suit your company’s needs best?
One would think it could be relatively simple. This process might start with one question; “Do you need deep feature integration and do you have developers in your command?” If the answer is no, your decision just became a whole lot simpler, meaning you should look at a turn-key offering. In reality, it’s not that simple. The lines between UCaaS, CPaaS, and Cloud Communications are becoming blurred.
Cloud Communications Platforms or CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) providers enable APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces for developers. Simply put, APIs equate to a toolset for developers that can be used to integrate features and functionality into web and mobile applications. In the comms space, this might be represented as SMS, Voice, Video, AI, Data Analytics, Fax (yes, fax still exists), etc. Some of these platforms also have professional services teams that can be retained for development projects. For some larger customers, platforms offer the best solution as it generally offers more flexibility and allows for a more tailored approach. The approach also requires more planning and coordination as services /features need to be built before they can be used. At the very least, a good customer success group is likely a requirement.
UCaaS / Cloud Communications Service Providers provide various services that are ready to consume by their business customers, there is no development required. Not to say that these companies do not offer APIs as well, many do, but it’s not what drives their business.
These services are generally less flexible. The providers that do provide APIs generally limit it to the features available in the existing offering. These cloud offerings generally take the place of several disparate systems, some of which used to be maintained onsite at the customer location(s). These services are the product of constant innovation in business phone systems. Early in the 21st century, we had analog phone systems that were circuit-switched and were bound by wires. Those systems either died or evolved into VoIP systems that were packets switched with layers of translation for interoperability with the systems of old. Now we have multi-modal and feature-rich cloud services that encapsulate Voice (desk phone, mobile, desktop), Video (single, multiparty, mobile and desktop), Text (ott + translation for SMS) and some form of Artificial Intelligence offering.
Even with all of these features, many larger enterprise companies require white-glove treatment with well-managed onboarding as their workflows and use cases can be complex. This means a CPaaS offering might be more applicable for their use cases, as long as the features are there to support all their use cases.
SMB (Small Medium Business) to SME (Small Medium Enterprise) seem to gravitate towards readymade offerings enabled by cloud communications service providers.
There are many great vendors to choose from on both sides of the fence and many times they are used in combination to serve customer’s needs.
As a demonstration, we can take a look at any larger enterprise customer that might have a need for a business communications system. It must accommodate administrative, sales, support, and customer success. They all will likely need Voice, Video, and Chat supplemented by some smart AI to help them reduce manual laborious tasks or augmenting their workflow. Many organizations have made a considerable investment into their customer workflow, including call center systems and networks and with that in mind, the customer is not interested in hearing about ripping and replacing equipment and networks. In this scenario, you might select a CPaaS for the call center component and potentially leverage a Cloud UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) offering for the business comms requirements.
Regardless of your needs, now could be a good time to be considering improving efficiency, optimizing and upgrading systems, and adding some feature enhancements. There are plenty of options and providers to choose from, all of which are competing fiercely for your business.
What tools do you use today and how are they working for you? How often do you use AI or video/web conferencing as part of your daily routine? If you prefer sharing your comments or questions privately, feel free to shoot me a text message or call anytime: (877) 897–1952 (Note: All calls will be recorded).