As interactions become more digital and efforts to transform digitally gather pace, customer expectations are increasing. They now want to communicate with organisations via their chosen method, whether that’s via phone, email, SMS, other forms of messaging such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat, or via social channels. For enterprises this creates a substantial burden because, traditionally, developer and technology teams would need to spend months of effort to enable each channel, addressing the individual requirements of each and API specifications, with each of these APIs having their own requirements for authentication, security, integration as well.
Aside from the cost implications of this ongoing development effort, the user experience is poor. If you’re a customer in Europe that wants to communicate via Facebook Messenger and the company hasn’t made this channel available to you, you’re already annoyed before the interaction even begins. Customers are used to having the flexibility to choose how they interact and often switch channels during interactions, so being told their channel of choice isn’t available is unacceptable to many. For example, they might choose to get the invoice related to a purchase by email, but when it comes to updates on the status of the shipment while in transit and delivery confirmation, would prefer to receive it on SMS or even their preferred social channel.
“This is where our communications platform as a service – CPaaS – offering provides immense value,” confirmed Meenal Prasad, the director and head of product management at SAP Digital Interconnect.
“SAP Intelligent Decision 365 simplifies these integrations through the multichannel API, a single API connection that allows organisations to enable and offer multiple channels to their end customer”
It doesn’t matter if it’s SMS, email, messaging or social channels – and there won’t be one of each because uptake varies by region, nation and demographic – the multichannel API not only gives you access to various channels, but will make it simple in the future to onboard and add new channels as they become available or popular, thereby enabling omnichannel interactions via these.”
SAP Intelligent Decision not only gives organisations the ability to offer an omnichannel experience to their customers by maintaining customers’ channel preferences, but also enables failover rules to be defined. If, for example, the customer has poor or no data connectivity, the system can fail over to a voice interaction or, in another scenario, a critical social messaging channel interaction might not be read within a time-out period. This can fail over to another channel such as SMS to keep the customer engaged and aid resolution of the interaction.
Importantly, the built-in analytics from SAP Intelligent Decision 365 provide organisations with insight into delivery rate and customer usage/response rates. Indicators such as response time or whether messages on a specific channel have been opened or not, or acted up or not, can provide visibility into the customer interaction and engagement across all the different channels a customer decides to use. In addition, these insights can enable organisations to update channel preferences according to customers’ behaviours and thereby optimise communications and engagements with them while providing a truly omnichannel experience
Taking Digital Interaction Further
“This capability takes the digital interaction beyond your customers,” added Prasad. “It’s not just for keeping customers satisfied, it’s for organisations’ internal usage, too. Especially in these times where the pandemic is changing how people interact and more digital activity is occurring, the analytics capability is vital. It can be used to ensure all your employees are safe, check with them whether any need help and to keep them updated on local developments and alerts.”
“This could be something as simple as whether the office is going to open up today or for example, for plant operations it could be a warning about unsafe conditions,” she said. “This is a critical part of employee communications and engagement and we have the solution for this in our SAP People Connect 365 offering.”
With 5 billion mobile subscribers and 3.8 billion users of social messaging apps in addition to the more traditional channels, it’s clear that the number of channels has radically increased yet each has substantial user numbers who organisations must serve in the method they choose. For Prasad, SAP Intelligent Decision 365 is just one of the tools needed to make this challenging capability simpler for organisations. “Organisations need to consider and provide all of these channels but the challenge is you still need to maintain a single view of your customer,” she said.
“SAP Digital Interconnect’s CPaaS becomes very important here because it is so easy to use and enables API-based communications whatever the channel your customers use today or could possibly need in the future as well”
“Further, this is backed by simplified programming templates, reusable code in multiple languages like Java or Python, extensive developer community support and documentation, making the integration accelerated and simple.”