We talk with Mirko Benetti, the VP of Sales for EMEA and APJ at SAP Digital Interconnect
Customer experience is a key success factor for enterprises, and with the increased pace of digitization companies are looking for scalable, reliable solutions to address their communication and customer interaction needs. At the same time, customers have been interacting with each other in different ways and expect to be able to the same when they are interacting with enterprises. This multichannel environment is becoming a basic requirement but, as Mirko Benetti, the Vice President of Sales for EMEA and APJ at SAP Digital Interconnect, points out only about 10% of enterprises are happy with their multi-channel capabilities today.
“There is a movement whereby enterprises are moving from CRM as just a system of records to more complete customer engagement solutions and communications platform as a service (CPaaS) support this,” he said. “However, in order to complete this move, systems and platforms need to involve different departments and groups inside the enterprise. Communications platform systems have the role of orchestrating content guidance and alerts and interaction during the customer journey but then they need the layer, which actually provides the means to reach out to the end user in the appropriate way in the appropriate moment, and also keeps track of all the references and the different features that each channel has. This layer is what the CPaaS actually is.”
Enterprises therefore need to first establish what their internal architecture and system should look like and then select the right platform from the right provider that can provide them with all the CPaaS capabilities they need. “The choice should be guided by various elements,” explained Benetti. “First of all, enterprises will have to deal with local needs and preferences, because end user needs in one country can be different from needs in another country or the enterprise could decide to run a programme which is international. As such it is instrumental for enterprises to work with a provider that brings global expertise and scale, together with local presence and practices. This will help shape the communication strategy of an enterprise allowing them to use different solutions and channels that work best for them.”
Benetti emphasised that in Asia customers use WeChat while WhatsApp is preferred in Europe and US users choose Facebook Messenger. It’s therefore important that enterprises can offer customers the alternatives while also complying with regulatory aspects that are in place because of the traditional communications and telecoms regulations that exist. “There are rules to be followed,” he added. “Enterprises therefore need a service provider that gives them not only the technology they need but that is also a partner to make sure their communications are compliant with local rules.”
Customers should have the flexibility to start an interaction in one channel and switch to another if they choose. This omnichannel approach encompasses voice, SMS, email, social channels and chatbots to enable users with maximum choice and to allow the communication to be continuous even if customers switch channels. A further complexity is that all of this must be achieved at scale. Said Benetti:
“To achieve omni-channel capability, the enterprise needs to work with a CPaaS provider to get rid of the complexity of dealing with different platforms but also to ensure they have the latest features and the latest channels available via robust APIs”
“CPaaS means there is obviously no hardware but also no installation of software and all the features are there. It has all the classic benefits of a cloud platform and needs to be futureproof and provide a clear roadmap to the customer to show them the features they will be able to use.”
Benetti added that there are four key principles for a successful customer engagement strategy and CPaaS capabilities have a key role in each of them. These principles include being able to recognise the customer (preferences, opt-ins), being able to protect the customer (authentication, secure communications), being able to orchestrate the customer experience (real-time, multichannel) and, finally, being able to adapt continuously collecting feedback and experience data (interaction, two-way communication).
“These principles are vital to ensure the multichannel strategy is actually effective,” he explained. “Enterprises are progressing with their multichannel strategies and their customer interactions are improving year-on-year. Not everyone is there yet but the journey has started for everybody and it is a one-way road.”
“The more success enterprises have with their users, the more the end users are satisfied and the more CPaaS providers and the associated services will flourish with even more benefit for the end users. It’s a virtuous circle”
Read the IDC paper to know more on key attributes of CPaaS providers