How to choose a cloud communications provider
An exciting new era of customer communications is well and truly upon us. Businesses realize their customers deserve personalized, informed, seamless interactions – on the channels that suit them and their immediate situation.
Right now, relatively few organizations are able to offer this kind of omnichannel service and enjoy the resulting business benefits. But times are changing. CX leaders are rushing to invest in the cloud communication platforms that will set them and their customers up for long and profitable relationships.
It’s time for businesses everywhere to follow suit, but they need to find the right partner to support them in their omnichannel journey.
That’s what this post is all about. It highlights what you need to look for in any potential cloud communications provider, to help you make an informed decision for you and your customers.
Flexibility and scalability
The communications landscape evolves quickly, so look for a provider that can give you access to the channels your customers use now and the channels they might want to use in the future. These might include SMS, RCS, voice, live chat, email and all the popular chat apps – think WhatsApp, Messenger, Line, Telegram, Viber, Instagram and more.
There are two distinct routes to go when setting off on your omnichannel journey. You can choose a full-stack end-to-end solution, with a single interface for advanced customer engagement across a multitude of channels. Or you may want to use APIs to integrate new channels one by one into your existing tech stack.Whatever your situation, make sure your chosen provider is flexible enough to deliver exactly what you want now, as well as to scale its services as your business develops.
United teams and shattered siloes
An omnichannel strategy connects up all your channels and lets you handle customer journeys holistically. To do this you‘ll need a centralized data hub that brings together information from various offline and online sources. These might include your CRM, contact center, website, loyalty scheme, payment system or app.
Unified data means a 360-degree view of your customer, their behaviors, their preferences, and their journey. This empowers your teams to make interactions seamless, relevant, and personalized no matter what channel your customer chooses to use. Look for a provider that can unify all your data in a single platform to help you deliver exceptional experiences every time.
Global reach but local presence
Very few cloud communication providers can give you true global reach, with direct reliable connections and message delivery within microseconds. So it’s worth finding out what proportion of the global population a provider can connect with, as well as how many direct carrier connections they have with mobile operators.
But global reach must be supported by a local presence, with hands-on experience of the regions you operate in. Armed with local expertise, a provider can align its services with regional regulations and tailor solutions to meet local needs. Always check whether a provider has people on the ground in your key geographies.
Services and support
It doesn’t matter how user-friendly or intuitive a solution is, a high-level of support still has an enormous impact on the value it can help you offer your customers. From assistance with testing and integration, to advice on messaging best practice, a supportive team with a high level of technical expertise makes all the difference.
Ideally, you should have access to a designated account manager that knows your business inside out. And you should enjoy continuous network monitoring and round-the-clock support. Where possible, your support team should be local for faster response to any issues and a better understanding of the local communications landscape. Always find out if support is offered in local languages.
Checking out customer stories can give you an idea of the level of support you can expect from any provider.
Privacy and security
Protecting your customers’ data and privacy should be table stakes for any cloud communications provider. But this isn’t always the case. You need reassurance that the service is secure, with encryption at various stages including the platform itself, the APIs, and the message-delivery mechanisms. If your provider has long relationships with the world’s leading brands, this should give you confidence in its security and privacy credentials.When it comes to customer interactions, user authentication – perhaps via biometrics or mobile identity – is vital to verify the user before any information is shared. Finally, in addition to security measures, you need to be sure your provider can comply with the various data privacy regulations coming into effect across the globe.
Too many businesses make the mistake of thinking that putting an omnichannel strategy in place is a huge technical undertaking. It certainly doesn’t have to be. You can start with two channels – perhaps SMS and email – then take it from there. Just make sure you choose the right provider to help you unify your data and orchestrate your interactions. Then you can start to build personalized, seamless customer experiences informed by the insights you have about your customers.