All about that base
Most people have spent time building with Legos at one point in their lives. The great thing about Legos is that you can build virtually anything you can imagine with those little interlocking bricks.
What makes Lego creations even better? When you have a base plate to go along with all those bricks. The addition of a base plate adds an incalculable degree of stability to your creations, setting the stage for architectural greatness. Whether that is a replica of the Eiffel Tower, a life-sized Santa Clause, or a simple tower that you want to reach from the floor to the ceiling, the possibilities are endless.
What do Legos have to do with technology, you may ask? The point here is that having a solid foundation is the key to building awesome stuff. What you build on that foundation is only limited by what you can imagine.
In this way a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is like the combination of Lego bricks, in this analogy the programming language and APIs, and a base plate, the platform that runs the code. Inevitably, someone will ask what a CPaaS does, but there is no single function that it’s designed to do. It’s a blank slate upon which virtually anything can be built. One thing is for certain, a CPaaS can do a lot more than just traditional IVR.
Here are a few examples—some hypothetical, others already in existence—that barely scratch the surface of what is possible.
Car 54, where are you?
Knowing where things are, geographically speaking, is helpful on a whole number of levels. When it comes to the intersection of communications and geography there are plenty of possibilities to build something really cool.
For example, integrating a CPaaS with other systems could result in a location-based notification system. Linking communications technology with a Geographic Information System (GIS) could have many different applications. For instance, a trucking company may have concerns about their on-time performance if drivers don’t follow their assigned routes or run into major delays.
The GIS and other backend systems can be used to automatically determine a threshold for how far drivers can deviate from their route, or the amount of time it should take to make a delivery. Once those system determines that a truck is beyond the threshold established for its route or is delayed by a certain amount of time, it can trigger the CPaaS to call the company so that they can find out what caused the detour or delay.
A custom audio tour
One very interesting use of audio communications we’ve seen is Museum411’s custom audio tour. An innovator with their application, the company turns content from museums into a script that visitors can access via their mobile phones. The museum assigns a code to certain displays and visitors then call a number while in the museum, enter the code, and hear pre-recorded interviews with artists and curators about a piece or an exhibit.
Put your CRM to use
The possibilities for CRM integration are almost endless. Companies that do most of their sales over the phone can connect their CRM database(s) to the CPaaS so when customers place an order they can present them with a number of post-transaction options, like the survey mentioned above, or the choice of having a receipt emailed to the address on file.
The CPaaS can take that request and either send a basic email directly. Another, more robust and customer-friendly route, however, would be to have the application trigger an action instructing the company’s email workflow to generate the appropriate invoice. Once the request is received, the business logic of constructing an email commences. This may involve pulling in personalized customer data from their CRM database, building an email invoice according to the company’s brand specifications, and sending it to the email address on file. All of this can be done at the point of sale without any extra actions taken by the customer.
On a scale from 1 to 5…
Receiving feedback from customers can make a huge impact on customer service and satisfaction, but a generic survey may not be sufficient. Integrating a communications application with a customer CRM allows for personalized messaging that not only increases the likelihood that a customer will respond, but also provides more granular feedback.
Something like this could be as simple as asking a customer to rate their most recent interaction with a company, or delving deeper into customer data and asking about specific products or services. If there are multiple locations this feedback can be tied to specific stores or offices to provide accurate data.
Your very own concierge
If we subscribe to the argument from Tom Petty that “the waiting is the hardest part,” then making life easier on others, especially customers, deserves some consideration. Sure, Siri or Cortana can remind you about your doctor’s appointment, but do they know when your prescription is ready at the pharmacy? How about the current status of a work order?
Because these types of tasks require access to a company’s specific data it’s up to the company to build apps for this purpose. But think of how nice it is to receive a phone call or a text message stating that your Rx is ready instead of having to wait at the pharmacy.
Similarly, companies and customers alike can benefit from this technology to determine the status of things like work orders, support tickets, and other multi-step processes. Knowing whether your work order, for example, is pending, in progress, or complete can be an enormous advantage when trying to prioritize tasks.
The Files are IN the computer
Considering how much trouble Derek Zoolander and Hansel had with figuring out how computers work, how do you think they’d fare with smart phone apps? I think they’d be ok because the visual and intuitive nature of most mobile apps makes them relatively easy-to-use.
As mobile devices become people’s preferred medium of communication, companies with mobile apps can leverage a CPaaS to build communications features directly into their apps that take advantage of these preferences.
Most major banks have mobile apps and offer a number of different features and services. If someone wants to inquire about obtaining a car loan one option is to copy (or write down) the phone number, exit the app, open the phone app, paste or key in the number, and make the call. Or, companies can make things easier on customers and use the features and APIs of a CPaaS to integrate voice calling directly into the app, reducing a five-step process to a single action.
Make everything awesome
These are just a few possible applications you can build on a CPaaS. For more ideas check out our case studies to see how others have taken advantage of CPaaS technology. There is a little bit of something for everyone given that a wide range of industries and applications are listed there.
With such a powerful platform it’s no stretch to transform into the communications equivalent of a Lego Master Builder, but whether that’s in the style of Vitruvius, Wyldstyle, or Emmet is up to you and the application you want to create.