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Flowroute 2020 Predictions: How businesses can leverage the cloud to improve omnichannel customer strategies

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

By Dan Hastings, director of enterprise solutions for Flowroute, now part of Intrado

How businesses can leverage the cloud to improve omnichannel customer strategies

Investing in omnichannel customer communication strategies is becoming a promising approach for business decision makers wanting to deliver increased ROI on their customer service IT investments. A report by Aberdeen Group found that companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89 percent of their customers, compared to 33 percent retention for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement. Alternatively, businesses lose $62 billion in annual revenue due to poor customer experience, according to NewVoiceMedia.

Omnichannel "at the edge" strategies, or communications at every "point of service," are proving to be an effective approach to sales and customer service because they empower customers to control how they interact with a company. Interactions may include text, traditional voice call, email, company website or in person. Given that 87 percent of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless user experience, there is an opportunity for IT decision makers to leverage omnichannel at the edge strategies in order to personalize the customer journey at every step of the way.

Decision makers now have a plethora of tools available at their fingertips to help them deliver omnichannel communications at every point of service. As they begin investing in these IT tools, the company will be able to provide immediate, tailored service to customers. This improved quality of service and enhanced user experience will help ensure customers remain loyal to the business.

Below are three ways business and IT decision makers can evolve customer experiences by moving omnichannel strategies to the edge.

Connect touchpoints within the cloud

Researchers have found that 90 percent of consumers expect the customer experience to be consistent across all channels and devices (i.e. communicating with a customer service representative online, as well as calling a physical store location). Moving internal processes to the cloud can help bridge gaps in communication by providing on-site staff and contact center representatives real-time access to customer information. This could include reservation information collected via a third-party app (i.e. dinner reservations made through Yelp) or a conversation between a customer and a chat bot on a company website.

Further, logging the context or history of these past customer interactions provides service representatives with visibility into the customer's journey. This visibility helps streamline interactions between both parties by removing the need to reiterate past questions or issues - a common complaint regarding customer experiences. The ability to connect (and track) communication across every digital touchpoint and phase of the customer experience will result in improved customer service, which directly impacts satisfaction.

Choose the right cloud-based tools

In order to connect touchpoints within in the cloud and provide contextual customer communications, IT decision makers must select the right cloud-based tools. Telecom Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are an example of a modern cloud-based communication tool that enables businesses to integrate communication services (i.e. calling, messaging, video chat, etc.) directly into their existing offerings.

Whether through a cloud-communication provider or a third-party messaging company, telecom APIs let businesses easily integrate texting (which is the preferred means of communication for Generation Z) for customer communications like appointment reminders, billing, security alerts, or other updates. As Generation Z expands their position in the consumer market, businesses need to use telecom APIs to adapt communications offerings based on their preferences.

Telecom APIs are the backbone of omnichannel-at-the-edge communications because they can power a multitude of interactions, at any POS for example, which lets the customer choose how and when they communicate with a brand. Whether a customer prefers texting or video chatting, telecom APIs work behind the scenes to deliver these options.

Partner with a cloud-based communications provider

For companies that have already started to automate operations by moving processes to the cloud and now want to leverage telecom APIs to improve their omnichannel offering, a wise next step is to partner with a cloud-based communication service provider (CSP). Cloud-based CSPs can help businesses scale communication offerings to optimize customer experience and engagement as discussed above.

Cloud-based providers deliver voice and messaging over a high-speed internet connection and have emerged as an increasingly popular, cost-effective and reliable alternative to traditional telecom providers. Businesses across a variety of industries can work with a cloud-based CSP to access industry-tailored solutions based on their needs. As another option, decision makers can turn to providers that specialize in specific cloud-based telecom tools (such as Blueface or Message Hopper). These companies help their customers and partners hit the ground running by eliminating the need for customers to build their own code or invest in on-premise IT resources.

Streamlined experiences and quality customer service are of the utmost importance to customers. By leveraging the technology available today, businesses now have an opportunity to take charge of their enterprise communications through integrating cloud-based telecom tools. When businesses invest in cloud telecom tools such as APIs, they are able to mature their communications offerings at every point of service and in turn improve user experience, boost customer retention, increase brand loyalty and drive value to their bottom line.

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About the Author

Dan Hastings 

Daniel (Dan) Hastings is the director of enterprise solutions for Flowroute, now part of Intrado. He has more than two decades of management experience in the global IT and communications industries. Dan has a track record of transforming business relationships, building global teams and translating customer needs into technical solutions. In his current role, he manages diverse global and technical enterprise customer and vendor relationships.
Published Friday, January 17, 2020 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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