CPaaS partner research is similar to using a dating app. There are tons of choices and at first glance, they all look great. But how do you know when to stop scrolling and swipe right?
Just like choosing a partner, a big part of selecting a CPaaS provider is knowing what to ask. It’s important that the first interaction is all about discovery.
If you’ve shortlisted a few prospects and are ready to dig a little deeper, there are five core questions you should ask to see if the vendor and your organization are a good match. And if you feel the sparks fly, a few follow-up questions have been added to help you drill down into their specific areas of expertise.
5 Questions to Ask a CPaaS Partner
The questions below cover topics like compatibility, support, and future growth—all the things you need to know about a life partner and a technology partner. Use these to help you narrow down your list of providers and pinpoint the right CPaaS partner for your business.
1. What voice solutions do you provide?
Your communications strategy is essential to your success. As your business expands into new markets and territories, and you bring on new agents, you’ll need a communications partner with flexible and scalable solutions that can expand too.
Do their services match your communications needs?
This seems basic, but we have to say it: Know what communications services you need, and ensure a potential CPaaS provider offers them. Besides basic inbound and outbound calling, you may need a cloud communications partner that offers:
- Group messaging
- Vanity numbers
- Skills-based routing
- Number porting
- Automatic call distribution
- Virtual attendants
- CRM, helpdesk, and chat integrations
If you haven’t already, list out your communications priorities. Be as specific as possible, and talk through it with the CPaaS providers you’ve shortlisted to confirm they do (or will in the near future) provide those services.
How extensive is their global reach?
You’ll want to ask about a potential provider’s global reach and reliability. The best CPaaS partners offer an owned network of redundant call routes for minimal downtime and crystal-clear call quality. Look for a partner that can enable your business to seamlessly connect you with customers regardless if they’re located down the street or across the world.
A provider with international carrier-grade voice services is worthwhile for businesses with a multi-country presence. Ask about what their redundant global network entails with points of presence in hard-to-reach geographic locations like Asia-Pacific and Africa. Don’t forget to talk about network security and their platform developments to combat cyberattacks.
Can they help you reach local audiences?
If you do need international calling capabilities, partnering with a CPaaS provider that offers calling line identity (CLI; also called local presence dialing) is especially important. About 75% of outbound calls from non-local numbers go unanswered. People generally don’t trust non-local numbers. At the same time, phone calls are 10 times more likely than email to lead to a sale.
The solution? Outbound calling services through a VoIP provider that displays your number with a local caller ID. The recipient sees a phone number with their area code on their screen, but you keep your original number.
If you plan to offer localized operations or support from a central call center, you’ll want to ask about establishing a local presence through VoIP origination as well. The ability to provide local numbers for inbound calling in different service areas without having to go through multiple local carriers is a game-changer. Local presence dialing means your customers are more likely to answer your calls and pick up their phones to reach out to you.
Can they support an international call strategy with remote workforce capabilities?
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing monumental shifts in where we work, it’s more common than ever for employees and agents to work remotely. Teams working from home require reliable VoIP tools to enhance their customer conversations. Business leaders should inquire about remote workforce capabilities that can support them on an international scale and monitor call strategy success. Some of these talking points include:
- Cloud-based software
- Ease of use
- Analytics and reporting
- Call monitoring
- Mobile webphone
And speaking of a mobile webphone, agents can stay connected using their smartphones and webphones through a business phone app – regardless of their location. CPaaS providers can help translate your inbound and outbound phone capabilities into your preferred work environment, allowing you to empower your remote workforce and…
- Keep agents productive with automated workflows
- Stay connected through unified communications
- Carry out calls and access resources from anywhere in the world
- Maintain quality standards and performance goals
- Efficiently delegate call tasks with call configuration
2. Can your platform work with my existing infrastructure?
Having an existing PBX (on-premise or cloud-based) is not a dealbreaker for working with a CPaaS provider. A cloud communications platform should be intuitive enough to add value to your already-invested architecture. Here are specific questions you should ask about integrating CPaaS features with an existing phone system.
Can I keep my existing phone system?
In a nutshell, yes. Intuitive CPaaS solutions use SIP integrations to connect your on-prem or cloud-based PBX to international calling routes. You should be able to manage international SIP trunks from a single interface within a CPaaS platform, making it easy for your reps to talk with customers over high-quality VoIP connections.
Whether your teams choose to continue using your existing system like MS Teams or the lines offered by a SIP integration, the right CPaaS will let your agents work from their preferred voice environment.
Can I integrate CPaaS with my CRM?
Look for a cloud-native communications solution that provides useful CRM-enabled CTI to automate your agents’ tasks and workflows. With this integration, agents can work out of their CRM environment while driving more productive and profitable conversations. Some of the benefits of integrations include:
- Automatic call logging
- Screen pops for contextualized details
- Better international call quality
- Data-driven analytics
- Click-to-call technology to dial outbound
- Give callers the option to receive a callback
What SIP features do you offer?
When evaluating cloud-based SIP/VoIP trunking solutions CPaaS providers, look for unlimited channel capacity and local caller ID services. SIP integrations should feature the flexibility for you to add or reduce the number of trunks through the interface. They should offer security measures like an integrated session border controller, TLS and SRTP encryption for secure calls, and real-time alerts about abnormal traffic to monitor and reduce call fraud. Ask if you will have to pay for a SIP trunk tier package regardless of usage or only for the SIP trunks you use.
Can I manage all my numbers (and carriers) in one place?
A good CPaaS partner will have the capabilities to manage all of your numbers and carriers within their platform – even if you bring your own carrier (BYOC)! For you, that means less headache, lower costs, and better operational efficiencies all around.
3. How long does it take to set up your platform?
Ease of setup is one of the major benefits that has driven cloud-native communications adoption. If a solution you’re considering takes 6.5 months to set up, it may not be worthwhile for your business (no matter how great it is). On your quest to find the best CPaaS platform, make sure you inquire about these important factors:
How quickly can your teams start using the platform?
Your CPaaS provider should be able to have your teams fielding inbound calls and knocking out outbound calls on an accelerated timeline. With a cloud-native platform, implementing a CPaaS system is much simpler than establishing an on-premise network. Most CPaaS providers offer instant downloads to agent desktops. This means you can establish new territory teams or onboard new agents within minutes.
You should expect few to no business interruptions when deploying a cloud phone system. When deciding between platforms, ask how long the implementation process will take and what kinds of impact will you need to advise customers about. Does it take 24 hours or 30 days to complete the onboarding process before you can dive into the technology? And if you need support, can you reach them 24/7/365, or do they only operate within a time window?
How easy is it to reassign numbers and roles?
Going forward, your admins should be able to consolidate and centralize all inventory while re-assigning numbers and adding roles as needed with just a few clicks. A robust CPaaS platform allows brands to integrate their existing phone systems with cloud technology, manage and provision numbers instantaneously, and establish new users and call distribution models quickly and accurately.
What’s the process for setting up new integrations or call flows?
The beauty of CPaaS platforms is that they operate on pre-built (but customizable) applications to improve the customer experience. Setting up business tool integrations and call flows is a simple process offered by most platforms, but where they’re managed matters. Voice menus and integrations, such as Salesforce and Helpdesk, should be manageable from a single interface to ensure satisfaction is maintained throughout the call.
For businesses that require more advanced functionality, make sure your provider also allows for APIs. The shift to low-code/no-code script makes programmable APIs incredibly easy for users to implement and customize as needed rather than relying on an IT pro to do it. These functions allow businesses to integrate their phone system with their tech stack, adding value and interoperability to streamline workflows and optimize call flows for exceptional customer satisfaction on a larger scale.
Additionally, many providers offer access to developer communities or integration libraries. So changing processes or tools within the platform is easier and faster than starting from scratch. Even if your in-house developers decide to create company-specific applications and workflows, your CPaaS partner should be able to offer technical guidance through a curated knowledge base and live support.
4. Does your application provide transparency into call data?
No matter which CPaaS provider you choose, you must be able to see and use call data to continually improve your operations. Here are some pertinent questions about call data transparency that should be on your checklist.
Which types of call data can we view through your platform?
Call center data shows you which areas your teams are acing, and which areas could use improvements. Some of the most common contact center KPIs you should be able to pull reporting on within a CPaaS analytics dashboard are:
- Average after-call work time
- Average call abandonment rate
- Average handle time
- Average speed of answer
- Average time in queue
- Calls handled
- Customer satisfaction
- First call resolution rate
- Net promoter score
- Percentage of blocked calls
- Service level
- Call quality
Call data is central to your organization’s ability to improve agent productivity and fulfill your SLA with stakeholders holistically. The right CPaaS for your organization will let you track the KPIs that matter the most to your industry and organizational goals. Furthermore, the ability to use scheduled reports and a centralized analytics dashboard will help your business leaders proactively share insights and identify gaps in call flows.
How quickly can we change call flows based on call routing and quality data?
Instantly enabling changes based on actionable insights is a hallmark of cloud-based communications. The best providers of call routing software empower brands to map out and visualize the entire call journey to help improve the customer experience. Not only will you provide enhanced customer service, but you’ll be able to change routes and optimize call flow without relying on IT support or any physical re-wiring.
Ask to see if the provider proactively reports on call quality. Monitoring factors like MOS, jitter or packet loss will be important for a great customer experience.
5. What is your account support like?
Today’s businesses are always on, thanks to the global reach of modern communications. There are customers to take care of, emails to respond to, and phone calls to return. It’s a no-brainer that your CPaaS partner should have 24/7 support to ensure business continuity. Here are a few more pointed questions about CPaaS customer support you should ask:
How many customer support channels do you offer?
A hotline isn’t hot enough for some businesses. A great CPaaS partner is available on several channels for quick support needs. Phone support is standard, but online chat, including chatbots that can ask qualifying questions and efficiently route you to the best qualified live agent, is becoming a gold standard of customer support as well. A customer portal where you can register trackable support tickets, SMS, and/or good old-fashioned email should also be part of their customer support arsenal. No matter where you are, what time it is, or what tools you have at your disposal, you should be able to connect with your CPaaS provider for quick fixes or in-depth troubleshooting.
Do you offer enterprise support?
Enterprise clients demand more personalized service. If you’re going to use a CPaaS at an enterprise scale, ask about personalized and complimentary onboarding. Can they send someone to train your teams on their platform? Once you’re onboarded, can they dedicate an account representative for your company who will learn your business model and communications needs? The right CPaaS partner will have the capability to offer personal services that include regular check-ins and proactive account monitoring.
Can your product development team partner with ours to accelerate new features?
As a growing business, you’ll require network backing and support from your communications provider. When you’re narrowing down your CPaaS choices, ask questions regarding how your requests get filtered back to the product development team. Making sure those requests are heard, and hopefully considered into their roadmap, will be important.
The right CPaaS provider will understand that your success depends in part upon them responding to your requests for new features, bug fixes, or process improvements. They’ll offer a dedicated account manager or team who will work with your IT and product teams to uncover and develop the CPaaS components you need to continue growing your offerings.
Ask the Right Questions to Uncover the Right CPaaS Partner
Selecting a CPaaS partner can take time, especially if you’re making the leap from an on-prem to a cloud-native environment. Talking through your needs, assessing responses, and seeing a product demo is a helpful start to the process of growing your organizational infrastructure. But knowing what to ask before investing in a new communications platform can arm you with the confidence that you’re making the right move for your business.
AVOXI is a leading CPaaS provider with high-quality global voice coverage in 170+ countries, helping businesses enhance their voice, messaging, and contact center services. Built with the features to accelerate your growth, AVOXI’s SIP trunking, call recording, skills-based call routing, and TrueLocalTM caller ID services, give you a broad toolkit to manage your communications needs. Contact one of our experts today to see the AVOXI platform for yourself.