How to develop and deliver messaging solutions that enhance customer experience – fast
Of the many changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, one that stands out is the growing demand on organisations across the economic spectrum to deliver an ever-more effective, efficient and innovative online consumer experience.
Dozens of studies over the years have underlined the importance of customer experience to the bottom-line. For example, in a 2018 study commissioned by Adobe, Forrester noted that “customer-obsessed companies have the highest median three-year growth in sales” and that their revenue growth was 1.4 times faster and generated 1.6 times more customer lifetime value than that of other companies.
Africa has not been immune to this trend, according to Uffe Jes Hansen, VP MEA at SAP Digital Interconnect. “In our experience with African clients, the importance of customer experience to the bottom-line has become more and more important,” he says.
Not surprisingly, technology is playing an ever-increasing role in delivering the level of customer experience that produces the greatest value. However, technology itself cannot be seen as the silver bullet for customer satisfaction.
As PwC notes in its Global Consumer Insights Survey 2020, “The Consumer Transformed”, customers expect technology to always work, to be user-friendly, and to deliver speed, convenience and the right information as and when they want it. However, they are unlikely to even notice new technology unless it malfunctions or interrupts the seamless, friendly experience they expect. In other words, having technology that does not meet customer expectations may be worse than not have any customer-facing technology at all.
According to the PwC survey, the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic has served to accelerate these trends, with 59% of respondents having increased their use of video chat apps since the COVID-19 outbreak began and 45% saying they are using their mobile phones as a shopping channel more.
In addition, the pandemic has not only reinforced the already growing shift to online shopping, it’s also encouraged experimentation, “coaxing consumers to explore different ways to access products and services”.
This is impacting how people work, eat, communicate, play, learn and consume, and it’s affecting every category of consumer activity, from grocery shopping to entertainment, healthcare and even data.
What all this boils down to is that new technologies and customer choice are playing an increasingly pivotal role in delivering a superior customer experience to consumers everywhere.
“Because we live in a globalised and interconnected world, pressure is increasing on companies everywhere to make it possible for customers to interact with them from anywhere, at any time, using the channel of their choice, regardless of where they live,” Hansen says.
“This means that to be competitive and successful, organisations have to be able to deliver effective and efficient messaging solutions across multiple communications channels, be it SMS, voice, e-mail or increasingly social media channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Lime and WeChat.”
No company or industry can consider itself exempt from these demands. For example, a logistics company needs a messaging service to send package status information to customers; a meal delivery company requires a messaging service to coordinate communication between restaurants, delivery drivers and customers; a bank needs a messaging service to send PIN codes to customers to authenticate customer logins; and a travel company or airline needs to communicate with passengers about potential flight changes or reservation confirmations, even when those passengers are out of the country.
In addition, the growing number of e-commerce companies and online retailers that have made the strategic decision to not offer telephone or e-mail support, but to only provide support via social channels and SMS, would also need these flexible messaging solutions.
“However, as we have noted before, it can be difficult for enterprises to create an optimal, remote user experience, especially when time is of the essence. CPaaS (communications platform as a service) APIs offer developers – and therefore organisations – the best and most effective solution to these challenges,” Hansen adds.
According to Michael Smith, Product Manager for SAP Live Link 365 at SAP Digital Interconnect, when used for the development of messaging applications, CPaaS APIs can save developers considerable time, reducing time to send their first message to minutes instead of days or weeks.
“By taking the grunt work out of integrating with the individual social channels and regional SMS aggregators, they let developers focus on their area of expertise instead of how text messaging works,” he explains.
“Messaging can be more complex than it seems, especially in international markets as many regional and local markets have their own requirements, regulations, best practices and customer expectations. The last mile of connectivity is always the most complex. To be successful in developing and delivering an effective messaging solution, you need a CPaaS provider with experience in local markets and with a global infrastructure that is reliable, scalable and secure.
“To be able to implement a successful messaging solution quickly, developers need the CPaaS platform to be intuitive, with the knowledge and infrastructure packaged in an easy-to-use developer interface. It should also have easily consumable APIs that provide support for a wide range of interfaces as well as good documentation, logs and analytics,” Smith concludes.
SAP Digital Interconnect’s comprehensive CPaaS portfolio streamlines the integration of multichannel communications and microservices into backend systems and apps to provide secure, reliable and immersive experiences for intelligent enterprises. These consumer-centric, API-driven solutions are enabled through SAP Live Link 365, which allows developers and technical professionals to easily access interactive documentation and sample use cases and code, as well as provide management, administration, analytics and other enablement tools.