Businesses of all shapes and sizes are betting big on instant messaging. Juniper Research predicts 160 trillion mobile and online messages will be sent each year by 2019, which means there’s no secret here – it’s a huge opportunity to reach consumers on their own terms. It’s easy to see why businesses like the idea of using popular messaging apps as part of their toolkit for reaching users. It’s also easy to see how more recent developments, such as chatbots, are contributing to this trend too.
But there’s more to getting through to customers in the way they want, when they want, and how they want than simply jumping on the instant messaging bandwagon. After all, there’s a wide range of communications channels out there. They all need support and investment to drive overall engagement and savvy businesses that want to move ahead of the competition are putting renewed focus on the importance of omnichannel communication as a result.
Why omni is key to stronger engagement
In today’s world where we’re all constantly connected to each other, contextual and real-time interaction has become the key to building stronger engagement with consumers. When you consider all the different channels that exist – from voice, to SMS, chat apps, push notifications, bots, or email – there simply can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.
For example, if you need to get a special message across to the entirety of your user base, you wouldn’t use a single channel to reach all of them. An important communication like that would be better spread across several channels, depending on which are best received by different segments of the overall user base. It’s also important to consider the context and capabilities of each channel with regards to the type of communication. For example, business communication pushed across heavily private or socially connected channels may be viewed as a breach of privacy or out of context by the user, especially on the newer channels. Facebook Messenger, connected to friends and family, is a good example of this.
Ultimately, building better business communication in 2017 has become about reaching customers and users on the channels they know, love, and, most importantly, use. It’s no good sending someone a string of emails if they never check their inbox. But if that person spends most of their time on WhatsApp that’d evidently be a much better platform for reaching them.
All of this is at the heart of omnichannel communications. It’s a concept that’s been around for a while and there’s no doubt that businesses already recognise how important it’s become. Honing the benefits of omnichannel can make the difference for improving brand image, retaining customers and ultimately generating sales, and it’s got a pretty important role to play for growth and expansion because of it. The problem most businesses face, however, is how to go about implementing an omnichannel communications platform.
The CPaaS approach to implementing omnichannel
Unfortunately, implementing something like this in house isn’t particularly straightforward. The range of different channels that the average business will need to support, and the daunting prospect of trying to stitch them all together in a joined-up fashion, typically strikes fear into all but the most hardened of IT department heads.
It’s for this reason that, for most businesses, implementing their own omnichannel using their existing IT infrastructure is neither practical nor effective. And that’s before they even consider the other challenges; how will they know what users prefer and how will they act or react on new channels? How can they ensure seamless, customer-led communication between the channels? Other questions to ask are: how can they drive users to each channel? How can they introduce cross-channel support? How should they manage different user segments? And how will they make sure the same message is being sent across different channels at the same time without duplication?
It’s not an easy problem to fix, but it’s one that’s led to the creation of the Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) model. CPaaS and other approaches like it are built with flexibility and scalability in mind, meaning it can address the needs of businesses at any stage of their move to the cloud. This is a recent development within the industry where a mobile messaging provider pulls the channels into one platform and strips away all the complexity associated with omnichannel technology, managing it for them as a service.
Why a mobile messaging provider?
When you consider how omnichannel is primarily driven through messaging APIs, specific to each platform, it becomes clear how vital the role of a messaging provider is. Support can be offered to any enterprise at different phases of transformation, even if they aren’t prepared to move their full business to cloud.
If nothing else, the challenge with trying to manage different communications channels, and nuances associated with them, as a business is that you’ll need a lot of dedicated resources to make it a reality. If you use an established messaging provider, however, the omnichannel communication framework you need – that would require significant investment to create yourself – and APIs for tapping into them already exist. This allows businesses to continue to focus on other aspects of their core business to drive growth and expansion rather than worrying about said communication channel complexities and intricacies.
Having APIs in place, however, is only one part of the challenge. The second entails cross-channel coordination and understanding users to forge meaningful conversations in context. An established mobile messaging provider, with decades of experience, will already have knowledge to help enterprises with this part.
When you take this into account, it’s no surprise omnichannel and CPaaS are joined at the hip. After all, to make omnichannel a success, you need a communications platform to run it on. And that platform needs to be designed for handling millions of messages on a daily basis, along with an extensive network of connections to ensure they’ll be delivered all over the world – which is all the more important for global businesses.
The road to better customer engagement
Businesses today are constantly readdressing how they offer their services to consumers. They are constantly developing new, highly interactive, and automated customer service experiences, allowing them to better compete in the digital business environment we have today. The preferences of modern consumers are constantly changing too, and if omnichannel isn’t part of the business customer engagement mix it certainly needs to be.
Yet it’s a balancing act. If the omnichannel platform in place is not up to scratch, it will likely cause more harm than good. The question, therefore, becomes how to best introduce omnichannel and how to best handle what could amount to millions of instant messages being delivered on a daily basis.
CPaaS can make that a reality.