April 2, 2020
Telephony and communication services have dramatically changed over the last couple of years, and the pace of change seems to increase even more. These days, communication technology is no longer a stand-alone product. Instead, enterprises want to integrate their communication channels with their sales and marketing processes, their customer support platforms and other departments in the company. Indeed, now that many companies have made the move to the cloud, the next challenge is to integrate the different cloud products that they use and their communication services are no exception.
A phone is no longer a hardware device. It’s a productivity tool for sales reps that opens up one of many channels to communicate with prospects and customers.
A chat window on a website is no longer a simple Q&A interface. Instead, it’s an instant communication channel, powered by chatbots that detect intents and fulfill requests from customers in an automated fashion.
An IVR is no longer a static flow used in large corporations. Instead, it’s a context-aware menu that helps customers being directed to the right agent based on context, purchase history, CRM data and another source of information.
An agent is no longer a person in a large call center, instead, it’s a customer-centric person that needs direct access to relevant information in multiple tools (webshop backend, CRM’s, ticketing solutions) to provide relevant help to callers.
And finally, even SME’s can now benefit from cloud-based technology to dramatically improve their customer relationships. Features such as cross channel communication, a unified view of the customer, caller identification, call history logging to CRM’s, dynamic call routing and chatbots are readily available with a few mouse clicks.
This rapid evolution provides an exciting opportunity for VoIP service providers, cloud telephony platforms and UCaaS solutions to differentiate themselves in the market. Service providers can offer new highly valuable features to their customers, features that have a profound impact on the customer’s business and that move the phone business from a commodity service to a premium product.
The great news is that you, the service provider, don’t have to develop these features yourself. No, your phone system does not have to become a CRM; and no, your UCaaS platform does not have to become an AI platform. Instead, the solution is to offer so-called “native integrations” between your service and different cloud software products such as CRM software and Helpdesk software.
Does this sound a bit vague? Here’s an obvious example: modern cloud telephony services offer out-of-the-box integrations to CRM systems such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Hubspot. End-customers can activate an integration between their phone system and their own CRM to activate caller identification and call logging. Caller identification uses CRM data to show caller information on incoming calls. The name of the caller is shown directly on the phone display, inside the softphone on a computer, or in a browser. Call logging makes sure that all inbound and outbound calls are logged into a CRM, including all details of the call such as a link to the recording and perhaps even a transcript that was automatically created using Speech to text technology.
CRM integrations are just the start. If not now, then soon will you experience an increasing demand from customers to integrate your VoIP or UCaaS service with a wide range of cloud solutions such as Sales Automation solutions, Marketing Automation software, ERP systems, Webshops, Chatbots, AI platforms, and other tools that are specific to your customer’s vertical (e.g. dealer management software in automotive or booking management platforms in hospitality).
It gets even better: integrations strengthen the relationship with your customers and therefore dramatically reduce churn. If your customer has integrated 5+ of their core business tools with your telephony platform, they will not easily walk away.
By offering native integrations, your platform takes control of business-critical processes. Even more, your platform becomes a source of valuable data, which is crucial for a modern data-driven operated business. By capturing the right data and by sending the data to the right tools through native integrations, your phone platform becomes an important source of predictive data.
Did anyone just say sentiment analysis? Yes! Your phone recordings can easily be sent to an AI platform such as IBM Watson to transcribe the conversation. Next, Watson can apply sentiment analysis to the conversation. Finally, this statistical data is sent to BI software or dashboarding tools to provide a real-time view of business health. Again, you don’t have to hire data scientists. Instead, you need to enable integrations with the right tools.
The future is in native integrations, period. The next question is how to start offering these native integrations. Sure enough, your development team could build one or two integrations by using e.g. the Salesforce API. The challenge, however, is to scale the number of integrations you offer, as well as the ability to configure and customize each integration for individual customers.
That’s where a platform such as Blendr.io comes in. Blendr.io is an integration platform (iPaaS platform) specialized in cloud telephony and UCaaS. Integration platforms enable you to roll out dozens of native integrations to hundreds of cloud applications. Furthermore, iPaaS software allows you to offer integrations for a wide range of use cases. As discussed before, the most common use case is CRM integrations with caller lookup and call logging as main features. But there’s more. Another exciting feature is dynamic call routing, based on CRM data or customer data in other tools. Yet another use case is all about showing the right screens from different tools to the agent, on an incoming call: recent purchases from a webshop, open support tickets, CRM data from the customer, billing information, etc. Finally, new use trends include chatbot integrations with booking tools to provide fulfillment, AI integrations as well as many other exciting use cases.
The future is now. If you are a cloud phone service provider, a VoIP service provider or a UCaaS service provider, make sure to scale your native integrations today by leveraging a partnership with an iPaaS solution. Blendr.io will support your business not only in the actual rollout of the native integrations but also in training your sales team, providing marketing collateral, supporting your product managers in finetuning your roadmap and making sure your business is future proof. Great opportunities are just a phone call away.