The internet has increasingly become the focus point for communications over the last 30 years. Traditional mediums have evolved with the internet and have provided opportunities to break into new markets. With this, communication systems that traditionally operated within one channel, are now striving to provide an omnichannel approach that can seamlessly handle and integrate many forms of communication.
Unified communications as a service or UCaaS, is a cloud service which bundles communications products within a single platform. These solutions are generally ready to go out of the box and can be easily integrated with other business applications for additional benefits. Businesses can now centralize both their internal communications between employees and their external facing dialogues with customers, all within a single platform.
The evolution of business communication
Modern consumers take for granted that they can interact with businesses over each of their favourite communications channels. This stems from the pervasive nature of smartphones globally which has made real-time communication possible from anywhere, across a multitude of applications which incorporate:
- Voice calls
- Text Messaging
- Instant Messaging
- Video and Conference Calls
When businesses fail to provide a customer with a means of contact through their favorite application or medium, this adds significant friction to their experience. Similar situations arise internally as employees context switch between applications like Slack, email and conferencing services. This leads to the potential risk of missing important details or wasted time spent searching for information.
Why UCaaS is gaining popularity
Enterprise organizations slowly phased out traditional telephone systems years ago in favor of online methods like email. They began migrating their telephony to private branch exchange (PBX) systems that introduced the flexibility and scalability of software. Multiple users could now share a limited number of phone lines with call routing logic controlled at the PBX.
UCaaS represents the next possible step in this telephony evolution as it introduces further virtualization, reliability and scalability. As a complete software solution, UCaaS reduces the cost and potential downtime for companies as all installation and maintenance is outsourced to the service provider.
As businesses grow, the “as a service” feature is appealing as they know their underlying platform can scale with them. This enables them to grow volume and expand globally with ease, adding new locations and channels as needed.
Customers also come to expect next-generation features through their UCaaS solution. As they look to upgrade their services with more complex call-flows and omnichannel routing logic, UCaaS providers must be able to deliver a wide variety of features like two-way transcription, faxing, SMS and IVRs.
Choosing The Right Provider
When building your UCaaS platform, there are a couple of things you need to consider when selecting your underlying or CPaaS (Communications as a service) provider. You are going to need a communications provider that can easily scale across all of your communications channels.
The right CPaaS provider makes it easy to embed outbound calling and other great services into your platform, freeing up your engineering time to focus on growing your business in other ways.
The wrong CPaaS provider, on the other hand, can hamper your organization with limited international reach, retrograde technology and inflexible contracts. Choose a communications provider that is committed to your growth with a proven track record for innovation.
Global access to phone numbers
The first obstacle to global voice is purchasing phone numbers in target markets — make sure you can get local, national and toll-free numbers. Look for a CPaaS provider with direct access to the primary market’s number supply, as well as embeddable and programmatic number searching.
Only facilities-based communications networks and cloud-agnostic telephony engines have the technical capacity to support real-time digital communications at scale. No amount of retrofitting internet or public switched telephone network (PSTN) will result in the clear and global communications modern users demand.
Fully featured across channels
Customers will want to leverage the ability to customize communication routes both within and between channels. For example, the handoff from text to call in customer support scenarios. Fully featured numbers as well as the ability to quickly port numbers and provision messaging and voice are crucial. Check that your provider empowers your team to be as efficient as possible with clean, easy-to-use APIs and documentation.
Nothing can take up more of your time that reporting internally and manually calculating customer invoices. Ensure that your provider captures the data on all calls and messages. Moreover, this information should be available to you in realtime, to enable you to generate actionable insights on business decisions, monitor usage and even help train customer support agents.
Most UCaaS providers price their platform according to a tiered “as a service” model. Therefore, ensuring that the underlying costs from your provider are mapped to your actual usage is imperative. With the movement of all services to the cloud, you should look for a provider that can offer you pay-as-you-go-pricing with the ability to improve your margins as you scale.
Telephony is still at the heart of all modern communications systems, so check out Unifying Your Communications - Part II: VoIP is Central to UCaaS.
In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about Telnyx as an underlying CPaaS provider for UCaaS solutions, check out our case study with Ooma here.
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