Smart partnerships key to next-generation customer experience
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Customer experience has always been a business priority for successful companies, and in an increasingly competitive environment, customer experience must be driven by the right partner ecosystem and underpinned by AI to deliver real business value.
Every consumer’s needs evolve as they adopt new communication technologies available to them. Today, consumers want faster, ever more personal experiences when interacting with their favourite brands, while also demanding to buy products or services at the best possible price and quality. To meet this need, brands have had to adapt quickly to use technology to engage consumer audiences and increase customer experience, and so are now realising ever more AI-powered interactions with customers on channels like SMS, WhatsApp and Instagram. With publicity on new AI platforms like ChatGPT increasing consumer interest in AI, it has also helped build their trust in AI, as they are seeing the benefits of AI themselves firsthand, outweighing a lot of previous scepticism. Therefore, far more consumers are more open to AI and like the increased customer experience it offers.
However, without the right kind of data, AI will never be able to provide meaningful insights that can help brands create the personalised experiences that build business growth, provide consumer value and develop customer loyalty. Consumers are far more likely to share their data when they know that doing so will provide benefits to them, in terms of cost savings, better customer care and closer connections to brands they love. Transparency is needed from brands as it's crucial in gaining trust. Sharing how data is being used when consumers first interact with a company means those brands that provide transparency and direct value will enjoy the kind of wide-reaching brand loyalty that only comes from more personalised, value-oriented interactions.
It is also important that consumer data isn’t seen in isolation. It can span engagements across customer service, marketing and sales transactions. So, it’s important it is not siloed by companies and covers multiple communications channels the consumer uses to interact with brands.
Ryan Miller, Senior Sales Lead, Africa & Israel for Sinch – a global communications platform as a service (CPaaS) leader – says: “Modern customer engagement has to enable rich, interconnected, omnichannel communication across multiple channels for a personalised experience. So, to gain a full 360-degree view of the customer, including their prior engagements and sentiment, a brand need access to consolidated omnichannel data.”
He cites, for example, the retail opportunity to generate targeted digital marketing, linked directly to sales, customer verification, delivery confirmation and engagement, returns, complaints and customer service. However, consolidating and integrating disparate systems and data plus integrating and automating key processes to achieve this can prove challenging.
“Organisations need to choose solutions designed to integrate and deliver business value through improved customer engagement. Their customer experience strategy should be supported by established partners who have the expertise to guide them and the advanced technologies to support their business strategies,” he adds.
Marc Emert, Sales Leader, Customer Experience at SAP, Africa, adds: “With ever-improving and sophisticated algorithms, we can now better understand customers, anticipate their needs while providing a human-like conversational interaction. Yet, complex and tailored solutions that cater to unique business requirements demand a vast and composable partner ecosystem. Intelligent customer experience comes from working with technology partners that understand individual industry needs, providing connections across departments and their technologies. Working with the best technology partners that can provide integrated operational and contextual data from across the entire enterprise with AI insights to support a seamless customer experience is therefore critical to success.”
It is therefore vital that any business that wants to have an intelligent customer experience approach must support current and future growth and have feature-rich, composable, core platform capabilities. This allows customisation at a flexible pace through vetted, certified and integrated technology partners.
Sinch, recognised as a leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) 2023 Vendor Assessment, and in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Conversational AI Platforms, is the only SAP-endorsed contact centre solution that works with SAP S/4HANA, SAP CRM and SAP Service Cloud. With out-of-the-box integration with SAP, Sinch supports omnichannel contact centre communication across channels, including telephony, e-mail, chat, video, SMS and a broad range of messaging apps. It also supports RCS communication – the next generation of SMS that is expected to see massive uptake and engagement in the near future. Sinch is also the Emarsys partner for SMS and WhatsApp. Its own chatbot solution – Sinch Chatlayer – is pre-integrated with Sinch Contact Centre to deliver 24/7 human-like voicebot and chatbot conversations.
Michael Ovens, SAP Customer Experience Partner Director EMEA South, says: “As a key partner, Sinch fits perfectly into SAP's customer experience strategy, the Sinch Contact Pro solution together with its AI-enabled Chatlayer, gives SAP's Service Cloud customers the opportunity to communicate with their customers on all mobile channels and reduce the number of calls to customer service by approximately 80% – a true customer experience moment.”
Sinch and SAP will co-host a webinar for South African organisations, focusing on the future of customer engagement, on 21 September 2023. For more information and to register for this event, click here.