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As many as 80% of companies have or will implement conversational customer engagement technologies to improve customer experience, and more than half will do so using a communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) offering to deliver the efficient, hyper-personalised contextual experiences their customers want most, according to a study from IDC and Sinch.
The study, Leveraging conversations to drive innovation and differentiation in the enterprise, authored by the research firm and the customer engagement technology provider, is a global survey of customer experience decision-makers at 350 enterprises. It was conducted to provide insights on the status of conversational customer engagement – defined as the ability to communicate interactively with customers from one digital channel to another while retaining context – and to assess its impact on business outcomes.
The study notes that as enterprises emerge from dealing with the impact of Covid-19, re-architecting their IT infrastructure to leverage digital platforms will be a major priority, with customer experience a top driver of these investments. It added that multichannel communications have empowered companies to connect with their customers on the channel of their choice, such as SMS, voice, email, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram. Conversational customer engagement allows them to keep the conversation going between channels without losing context.
Significantly, all respondents in this study currently used digital customer engagement across multiple channels, and 79% of respondents have initiated or plan to implement conversational customer engagement. The majority (52%) said they will deploy CPaaS platforms to do so.
Drilling down deeper into the specific contribution of CPaaS, IDC said it could serve as a springboard for customer engagement innovation, and when integrated with existing CRM and contact centre technologies, it could enhance their capabilities and extend their useful life.
While IDC observed that enterprises currently use their CRM and call centre platforms mainly for conversational engagement, with CPaaS as a third option, it added that CPaaS has become an important platform for enterprise developers, citing research calculating that half of such workers had engaged directly with a CPaaS provider.
IDC fundamentally regards the cloud-native CPaaS as aptly suited to drive the digital engagement strategies of enterprises, orchestrating sophisticated workflows from CRM platforms to call centres, which support intelligent case routing and personalised interactions. It added that it sees CPaaS as providing businesses with an interconnected global network of operators, as well as real-time access and scale for communications across multiple channels (voice, messaging, video and email), making it easy to deliver efficient, hyper-personalised contextual customer experiences.
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The survey also found that while most companies employed multiple channels and a majority are using conversation systems, only 22% of companies use more than three channels for conversational engagement.
Looking at use cases for customer engagement technology, the study found customer service activities – such as customer care and support and customer satisfaction surveys – were the most commonplace, followed by operations activities and transactions tied to financial payments.
In conclusion, IDC cautioned that there were challenges in implementing conversational customer engagement. It said companies needed to find the right partner with the relevant technology platform and expertise to establish a road map that “truly optimised” the customer journey, and that they also needed to understand the ROI and vision to engage a broad range of personas across the customer lifecycle, from customer acquisition to customer care, to benefit from the totality of the process.