CPaaS is a rapidly growing technology solution, used by approximately 20% of organisations globally today, with this figure expected to rise to 90% by 2023, according to Gartner. But what exactly is CPaaS, and more importantly, what can it do to propel your business forward? This article explains.
What is CPaaS?
CPaaS is the abbreviation for ‘Communications Platform as a Service’. These are cloud-based API solutions that allow you to integrate communications functionality into your existing business applications. CPaaS solutions include instant messaging, voice calling, video calling, and more recently, contactless payments and security features (like fingerprint verification).
To put it simply, CPaaS is just a voice and messaging API. Though the acronym might sound complex, the 'as a service' part is just a business model term that has become dominant in this digital industry, which in this case is a communication platform. The cloud-based delivery model allows you to pick which communication system you want and embed them into your services and apps.
CPaaS is suitable for any size of business that’s looking to grow and undergo digital transformation. One of the key benefits of CPaaS is that it’s affordable and flexible. You can simply use and pay for the communication solutions you need at the current time; it’s a sort of build-your-own solution.
For example, if you run a small auto business, sending service appointment reminders by SMS could be essential – but you might not need a whole suite of communication services like Messenger chat, or a video-enabled helpdesk. In this case, you could utilise a CPaaS solution just for an SMS API.
How CPaaS works
CPaaS provides you with access to real-time communications features without the need for major technical development or physical network infrastructure, so it’s a great option if you want to expand into global markets without spending a fortune. As a solution, it’s designed to work with minimal coding requirements.
A developer can easily and quickly integrate these programmable communication APIs into your application, for example, your CRM software. CPaaS solutions are usually provided with technical documentation, including sample code snippets and FAQs to help developers embed and set up the API. Software development kits (SDKs) and API libraries may also be available for fast and seamless integration. These communications APIs can often be set up for contextual and personalised communications, and for tracking customer engagement too.
Types of CPaaS providers
Broadly speaking, CPaaS providers fall into two main categories:
Specialist or focused providers – these vendors specialise in one or more communications services, for example, SMS or voice APIs, instant messaging, or video calling.
Diversified providers – these tend to offer a more comprehensive portfolio of services, including IoT implementations. They may support and bring together additional communication channels to help businesses adopt an omnichannel strategy. And they may offer advanced developer support.
How CPaaS can improve business processes
The main driver for CPaaS is its ability to strengthen and enhance business processes and ultimately help deliver upon the increasing demand for an improved customer experience. Today’s consumer has high expectations for customer service. According to SuperOffice, 80% of companies believe they provide excellent customer service, yet only 8% of customers believe they’re actually receiving that level of service.
Customers want to receive business communications via the channel of their choice. Moreover, they want to resume contact with a business at a later date and have the support agent understand their conversation history, so they don’t have to repeat themselves – even if they initiate contact via a totally different channel the next time around.
Some CPaaS solutions can help you implement an omnichannel communications experience, seamlessly bringing together all channels, like live chat, SMS and social media so you can have contextual conversations with customers.
Not only that, CPaaS can automate specific business processes that would otherwise take a lot of time and effort when done manually. Intelligent routing is one example, where CPaaS is used to route a particular type of enquiry to the right support agent. For instance, a technical question might be routed to a technical support agent, and a billing enquiry could be routed to the accounts team.
Administrative tasks are a further example. Two-factor authentication codes and appointment reminders can be automatically issued via text at precisely the right time, with no human intervention needed.
Then there’s the opportunity CPaaS provides for optimised sales and marketing. Using your CRM tool, you can identify scope for cross-selling, and use contextual communications to deliver targeted promotional messages to your audience.
Industry uses for CPaaS
The healthcare, hospitality and transportation sectors were among the first to adopt CPaaS technology. More recently, CPaaS is being used in e-commerce and education. Let’s look at some specific uses:
A positive customer experience is integral to success in the hospitality sector. CPaaS technology can be leveraged in numerous ways to engage with customers.
For instance, a two-way SMS API could enable hotel guests to check into their room in advance and allow the hotel to send a text confirmation in return. And booking reminders could be easily issued to reduce the risk of no-shows and cancellations. Airbnb is one such company that uses CPaaS to enhance customer service and communications.
CPaaS is used in the healthcare sector to provide better patient care and to make processes more efficient. A common use is for appointment scheduling and reminders. It’s used for video consultations, the recording of calls and video sessions, and even to provide translation services to patients who may not speak the native language or are hard of hearing.
Behind the scenes, CPaaS can integrate with patient data to provide healthcare professionals with the real-time, accurate information needed to run the setting smoothly.
Ride-share firms, such as Lyft and Uber, utilise CPaaS. If you use their apps, you’ll receive ETA notifications, SMS arrival alerts, and you’ll even be able to call the driver directly. Airlines also use CPaaS to boost customer satisfaction. For instance, some airlines use live chat functionality to help passengers resolve travel problems, like rebooking a flight after a cancellation.
Remote learning has driven growth in the CPaaS market this year, due to more students learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. CPaaS APIs can be integrated into online learning platforms and be used to engage with thousands of students all at the same time. Specific features are lesson recordings (so students can learn at their own pace), screen sharing and whiteboarding capabilities.
Choosing a CPaaS platform
When researching the CPaaS market, there are several points to consider. Firstly check the performance of the API itself to make sure it will meet your business requirements. (Ask the provider for industry-related case studies to get a better idea of how it works). Check that the API has been well tested and is stable.
Ensure your preferred CPaaS solution has adequate support for your developer by way of coding libraries and technical documentation. Some providers may offer a developers’ community or forum as well.
Finally, check the provider’s reputation to ensure they’re well established. There’s a risk that new CPaaS vendors could fail or be bought out by a larger firm, which could lead to service disruption.
In summary, why should you use CPaaS?
CPaaS provides a cloud-based platform for unified communications that enables developers to digitally transform their business. It provides turnkey communications capabilities such as voice calls and SMS messaging.
Developers can also expand it with any software feature if they want. Users avoid paying for features they are not using and receive highly customized features and scalability. CPaaS is the future of customer communication channels that will get your business at the forefront of cloud technology with little cost and lots of benefits.