Checklist for selecting your cloud communications provider

13 April 2017 | Dave Rich


Increasingly, businesses are incorporating communications services such as voice and messaging into their applications to optimise the customer experience.

Being able to call or text directly from an app has become a “must-have” feature for many brands – ask any consumer that’s ever requested a driver, booked a vacation rental or hired a pet sitter from a mobile app.

As a result, businesses are taking a close and critical look at their options for communications service providers to deliver these services. The right partner makes all the difference in ensuring a smooth integration, from initial onboarding and phone number porting, to customer service and troubleshooting.

Cloud-based communications providers have emerged as a go-to option for businesses because of the services they offer, and the benefits cloud-platforms can have on both internal operations and the customer experience.

Before severing ties with your legacy telco carrier, it’s important to research the different platforms and providers on the market, as well as your configuration options for cloud-based communications. For example, the rise of the Be Your Own Carrier (BYOC) model leverages Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS), and enables developers to incorporate real-time communications features into their applications using APIs. This helps developers avoid the complexity involved with operating network infrastructure while still maintaining control over their customer experience.

Other popular IP-based “hybrid” models that support voice and messaging over a high-speed internet connection include cloud-hosted PBX technology and purpose-built software solutions. Cloud-hosted PBX technology replaces the existing PBX or contact centre technology with similar solutions in the cloud and offers the least disruption to the organisation’s operations. This option also allows organisations to maintain traditional features like making and receiving calls on a traditional handset, voicemail, multi-party conference calling, etc. Purpose-built solutions are industry-specific and pre-integrated into a workflow, meaning that the communications become an embedded capability within a software solution. These vertical-specific applications allow, for example, healthcare offices to reduce patient cancellations, banks to increase security through improved fraud alerts, and a claims processing unit to automate claim status via SMS notifications.

Despite the many benefits to operating communications services in the cloud, switching providers and taking those first steps can be a complicated and daunting process. As with any technology purchase decision, conducting in-depth research is important to ensure you find the service provider best-suited to meet your company’s – and your customers’ – unique needs. Below is a checklist of four criteria your future cloud communications service provider should offer:

Quality of service: QoS is perhaps the top criteria your provider should meet because customers expect instantaneous, seamless and flawless voice and messaging services from the start. Anything less can negatively affect the company’s reputation, productivity, and customer loyalty.

Ease of adoption: Onboarding new users and porting phone numbers can be two of the biggest challenges that developers face when it comes to moving to cloud communications. It’s important that a provider offers simplified operations to ensure smooth adoption and control over the porting process. A provider with reliable operations will have extensive experience with onboarding and automated porting, as well as with the call flow design, support, service, and custom implementations processes. 

Level of intelligence: Contextual or intelligent communications are interactions that have specific data or context, associated with them. Organisations that offer intelligent interactions through their apps can not only streamline business operations, but also provide added convenience for end-users by speeding up the customer service process. For example, let’s say you run a small dental office and send an appointment reminder via text to your patient. The text might include an option for the patient to call your office to reschedule. When the patient “clicks to call” from the text message, the receptionist can access information through their scheduling software interface about who is calling and that the call was a result of the reminder text – providing more context for the call, which leads to a more streamlined customer experience.

Level of control: Control and direct access to telecom resources such as phone numbers, inbound/outbound calling, text messaging and advanced signaling data are imperative criteria to consider when evaluating potential providers. Without this direct access, operating processes can be delayed with potential negative consequences for the customer experience.

Confidently checking these four boxes will ensure you’ve selected a cloud-based communications provider that will advance your in-app communications initiatives. A successful move to the cloud will be the result of researching the available cloud communications models, selecting the right service provider partner - holding them accountable to the criteria listed above; and identifying where your company differentiates in the customer experience.