Sunday, May 19, 2024

    EDITORIAL Is video killing the messaging star?

    Hot on the heels of Asda rolling out RCS messaging to its customers in the UK, Welsh Water is also stirring up conversational commerce by ramping up its customer experience using CPaaS – and just as we predicted a few weeks back, it is now involving video as well as messaging channels.

    Welsh Water, a not-for-profit company responsible for supplying drinking water and wastewater services to 1.4 million households in Wales and western England. Supplying one of the world’s most diverse geographical regions, Welsh Water faced challenges providing customer support especially when related to triaging customer issues such as leaking or burst pipes. A lack of visual data made it difficult for staff to know what exactly was needed to fix an issue, including the necessary tools, leading to wasted time and money – a cost of approximately £130 per trip.

    Now the company is using a CPaaS platform that brings together the usual suspects of SMS and voice, along with messaging and chat apps, but is also adding video chat so that agents in its call centre can see what the problems are – helping to route the right team to fix the problem.

    This added video dimension serves a clear purpose for Welsh Water, but for the wider telemedia market it heralds just where CPaaS platforms are now headed: new and ever more engaging channels need to be added.

    The pace of change in customer engagement has been relentless over the past few years, but the speed with which new trends have emerged has been startling. WhatsApp is now standard issue for most large brands looking to engage their customers, while social media and social DM-ing isn’t far behind. The addition of RCS now looks positively vanilla compared to the prospect of video chat – FaceTime and WhatsApp predominantly, although you could see Zoom in the mix – coming along. Even top-end millennials like me automatically FaceTime friends and family now, rather than make a call. I will certainly not think twice about video calling to have my boiler fixed, say.

    All this is great for consumers, but is a challenge to the telemedia industry, CPaaS platform providers and the businesses themselves. The tech needs to be integrated and/or retrofitted to existing platforms and training and protocols need to be developed to make the ‘front of house’ video-ready.

    However, the real challenge lies in what happens to MNOs. They already were facing erosion of call and text volumes – and revenues – as callers switched to OTT and other messaging channels to engage businesses. Now they are set to lose even more as those customers shift even further into the much more engaging experience offered by OTT video calling.

    The only option they have is to ramp up RCS, add video to it, or get out of Dodge and do something else.

    Running CPaaS platforms for big corporates is one way to go, but there may be another route to making their businesses fit for purpose in the dumb pipe world. While consumers are choosing new ways to interact with businesses they are also looking at new ways to entertain themselves.

    Subscription services such as Netflix, BT Sport et al are nothing new, but how consumers want to access them is changing. With so many to choose from, it is increasingly hard to work which to buy. Instead, they are looking at how to dip in and out and pay just for what they use. This presents MNOs with an opportunity. Collate this content and offer it on a pay-as-you-watch basis, billed using carrier billing or open banking and you have yourself a lovely new revenue stream – and it places operators back in the position of being valued brands that deliver something more than just a utility.

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