The world of Customer and Marketing technology is vast; at this point, it’s no surprise to anyone the number of solutions per category that exist to cover multiple business needs.
In the enterprise, one function that is equal parts important and often overlooked is Customer Communications. This is generally covered by in-house-built solutions or specialized suites that mainly focus on document management and workflows with a combination of channel integrations. One of the main characteristics these platforms have in the enterprise is the vast volume of communications through multiple channels and, therefore, the customer interactions they manage.
In a Customer Engagement Engine, as proposed in the Engagement Fabric, every interaction is vital for advanced customer engagement management. Customer Communications need to be tightly integrated into the Customer Engine.
Now, what is Customer Communications in today’s MarTech landscape? Let’s explore the world of CPaaS.
What’s a CPaaS?
CPaaS, or Communications Platform as a Service, is a cloud-based platform enabling developers to add real-time communication features to their applications without building backend infrastructure and interfaces. This technology has been pivotal in the digital transformation wave, enhancing interactions and connectivity in modern MarTech (Marketing Technology) ecosystems.
The origins of CPaaS date back to the early 2000s when companies started to leverage cloud technology for communication purposes. Initial applications were basic, such as SMS or voice calls. Over the years, the technology has incorporated more sophisticated features like video calling, messaging, and even screen sharing. Twilio, Vonage (formerly Nexmo), and Plivo are some of the pioneering companies in this space.
CPaaS vs. CDP, CEP, DMP, Data Warehouse, and Data Lakes
The impact of CPaaS in modern MarTech ecosystems has been transformational. It has streamlined communications within various customer journey touchpoints, fostering personalized and real-time interactions. Today, companies are increasingly integrating CPaaS solutions to send notifications, alerts, conduct surveys, offer support, and much more.
While CPaaS primarily focuses on communications, there's a broader context within the data-centric MarTech world where Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), Data Management Platforms (DMPs), Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs), Data Warehouses, and Data Lakes reside.
A CDP is a software that aggregates and organizes customer data across various touchpoints and is used for creating predictive analytics and personalized marketing strategies. DMPs, on the other hand, primarily handle anonymous segments and profiles and are used predominantly for targeting ads. CEPs improve customer interaction and enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction levels.
Data Warehouses are large storage repositories that provide an interface for processing and analyzing data. They store current and historical data in one single place. Conversely, Data Lakes stores raw, unprocessed data, offering more flexibility.
CPaaS is a catalyst that leverages data from these platforms to create meaningful, real-time interactions. The communication initiated through CPaaS is driven by insights from CDPs, DMPs, and CEPs and stored or processed in Data Warehouses and Data Lakes.
Now, let's talk about the suite versus composable approach. A suite is an all-in-one package, while a composable approach signifies an assemblage of best-in-breed solutions. While suite solutions offer convenience, they might only excel in some areas. Composable architectures allow organizations to select the best solutions for specific needs and knit them together.
CPaaS is highly flexible and aligns with the composable approach, allowing businesses to add communication modules as needed. It doesn't bind you to use a suite of services from a single provider but will enable you to leverage different offerings and integrate the best solutions in your tech stack.
In terms of omnichannel customer engagement, CPaaS plays a critical role. With customers interacting through multiple channels like social media, emails, websites, apps, and in-person, a seamless and consistent communication experience is necessary. CPaaS enables businesses to maintain this consistent, unified, and personalized communication across all these channels, enhancing the customer experience.
CPaaS has emerged as a transformative element in the MarTech ecosystem. While it is a distinct entity from CDPs, DMPs, CEPs, Data Warehouses, and Data Lakes, it complements these technologies. It provides a versatile solution for businesses to keep pace with the ever-evolving customer communication needs.
Integrating CPaaS functions into the MarTech ecosystem
CPaaS, as a cloud-based platform, plays a pivotal role in this ecosystem. It forms the backbone of communication, connecting different MarTech stack components, enabling organizations to leverage real-time communication capabilities within their applications.
Personalized Customer Interactions: CPaaS facilitates personalized customer interactions, allowing businesses to send targeted and relevant notifications, reminders, promotions, and support messages through various channels like SMS, email, voice, video, or even in-app chat. These messages can be tailored based on the customer data aggregated from other MarTech tools, like CDPs and DMPs, resulting in more relevant and engaging communications.
Omnichannel Communication: Customers interact with businesses through multiple channels in today's digital world. CPaaS plays a critical role in managing these omnichannel interactions by providing a unified platform where all communication can occur seamlessly. Whether it's social media, messaging apps, or traditional voice calls, CPaaS ensures consistent communication across all these channels, enhancing the customer experience.
Real-time Interaction: In the age of instant gratification, real-time interaction is a must. CPaaS enables businesses to respond to customer queries instantly, conduct live video chats, or send real-time notifications and updates. This boosts customer satisfaction and helps quickly resolve issues and reduce resolution time.
Enhancing Customer Engagement: CPaaS integrates with Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs) to enhance customer engagement. CEPs provide insights into customer behaviors and preferences, and CPaaS leverages these insights to drive effective communication. For instance, based on the customer's interaction history, the system can decide a customer's most effective communication channel (like email, SMS, or voice call).
Integration with Data Warehouses and Data Lakes: CPaaS can interact with data stored in Data Warehouses and Data Lakes. For example, a business could use CPaaS to automate communication-based on the insights derived from data analysis. This might include sending out targeted promotions based on purchasing history or notifying customers about new features relevant to their usage patterns.
Enabling Automation: Through APIs provided by CPaaS platforms, businesses can automate various communication-related tasks. For example, businesses can schedule automated messages, alerts, or follow-ups based on specific triggers or customer actions. This reduces manual effort and allows for more timely and efficient communication.
In summary, CPaaS is a key piece of the MarTech ecosystem. It enables businesses to communicate effectively across multiple channels, enhancing customer experience and driving engagement. By leveraging the real-time, personalized, and automated communication capabilities of CPaaS, businesses can significantly enhance their marketing efforts and achieve better results. And in combination with other capabilities like a Customer Engagement Platform, it can provide powerful tools to marketing and engineering teams to architect a best-in-class customer engagement engine.