Below is our recent interview with Matt Thompson, VP Global Product Marketing of Soprano Design:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Soprano Design?
A: Soprano was founded in Sydney, Australia 25 years ago by Dr Richard Favero who remains head of our business today. We’ve had plenty of pivotal moments and milestones along the way from powering Australia’s first mobile payment transaction in 2001 to enabling Australians to vote for their favourite Australian Idol on their devices a year later when Telstra began using our CGP to support inbound SMS voting for the hugely popular TV show.
The need for stronger customer relationships was our catalyst for creating a trusted mobile interaction system back in 1994 and 25 years later it remains king alongside our mission to ensure the right person receives the correct information at the right time with our software.
We achieve this every day for clients around the globe and we’re proud of the role our platform plays in improving people’s lives, providing them with important information in their preferred environment and strengthening relationships between parties for our clients.
We’re now on track to achieve our strongest year to date with our global messaging volumes set to exceed seven billion in 2020 – nearly 40% year-on-year volume growth since 2018. We have regional offices in Europe, North America, South America, New Zealand and Southeast Asia and our products are sold by some of the best-known mobile network operators and resellers in the world, supporting their local enterprise and government customers communicate effectively with their stakeholders.
Q: You’ve recently launched Soprano Connect; can you tell us something more?
A: More and more people are going mobile first, choosing their smartphone as their preferred communications device for business to leisure updates. Our insights show businesses know exemplary service is essential to maintaining an edge on competitors and that customer service, once landline or email based, is increasingly mobile. In fact, industry analyst Gartner reports the open and response rates for SMS are now as high as 98% and 45% respectively while emails have just 20% open rates and 6% for responses.
Soprano is known for its powerful cloud-based enterprise platform that integrates IP, SMS, MMS, voice, and location into a seamless, secure business mobile messaging experience. Our new Soprano Connect enables clients to maximise the growing trend towards messaging in environments such as WhatsApp and Rich Communications Services (RCS).
WhatsApp is now one of the world’s most popular messaging platform with over 1.5 billion active users. That makes it a logical connection point for companies and customers – especially when it’s time sensitive information that needs delivering such as confirming an important doctor’s appointment or information about what to do in a natural disaster. The other environment Soprano Connect supports is RCS which is a new Chat option that the device manufacturers and mobile operators are beginning to expose to mobile consumers. It’s typically used when a mobile user wishes to engage a brand such as posing a question directly to their bank or preferred retailer and get a response in real time rather than sitting on hold for hours.
Initial response to Soprano Connect has been extremely positive with clients appreciating the agility and ability to quickly and easily communicate with their customers as more people blend their work and personal communication needs. Our early adopter customers and telco partners in the US, Europe, Asia Pacific and Australia are currently trialing it across WhatsApp and Rich Communications Services (RCS) with global availability from end October 2019.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your solutions?
A: We provide critical messaging support between clients and their customers across a range of sectors from banking and retail to finance, health and government departments. Our solutions cover mass text messaging, automated inbound messaging to incident management and SMS notifications and alerts. And in a world of increased phishing, cyber security risks and fake news, those sending and receiving critical information need to know more than before its secure. We work with major financial institutions to enhance their data privacy controls with encrypted data to reduce the risk of security breaches. And we provide security enhancements for existing systems using mobile messaging for two-factor authentication and one-time passwords to keep financial data safe. In the health sector for example, we support major hospitals that employ our SMS service. Previously one hospital used a service which only sent one-way SMS to patients, parents and caregivers. Working with us they now use MEMS for two-way appointment reminders, treatment updates and post-op care. It’s greatly reduced the volume of no shows, reducing hospital costs, and improving patient wellbeing. Our solutions meet genuine needs and are delivered in an environment that best suits people today.
Q: Who is your ideal client and why?
A: Like us, our clients understand and appreciate the importance of keeping their customer data secure and providing them with relevant communication – not spamming them. We have excellent client relationships across banking, retail, finance, health and government departments around the globe because of this shared focus.
Our ideal clients are in the midst of digital transformation to automate their out-of-date or inefficient processes or system interactions. In the digital transformation era, what sets us apart from our competitors is our priority on putting the customer problem front and centre of everything we do, because their problem is at the heart of their own digital transformation process. By working consultatively to address their problem (rather than reacting to a solution request), we often identify unique and innovative mobile messaging solutions that move them into their own place of differentiation. Problem solving drives and inspires us to create something beautiful. It could be as simple as helping a group of teachers plan their meeting times more effectively. Or be more mission critical like coordinating an emergency response team or helping a hospital improve its operational efficiency, so doctors can see more patients.
Q: What can we expect from Soprano Design in next four months?
A: This year has been an unprecedented period for Soprano as we mark 25 successful years in business, the launch of Soprano Connect and our strongest year to date with our global messaging volumes up almost 40% versus 2018. Our plan is to continue this upward momentum in the coming months as the global demand for enterprise messaging continues to drive growth across a range of key industry sectors including financial services and retail.
We believe, based on consumer demand, that these new avenues for mobile engagement with a brand using WhatsApp, RCS and WeChat will become increasingly common and brands will want to be capable of engaging with their customers in these popular areas of the mobile device.
We recently signed a strategic partnership with leading Philippines mobile network operator Smart Communications. This agreement with Smart is Soprano’s sixth major APAC telco partnership, others include Telstra in Australia and Starhub in Singapore.
In Singapore we recently secured preferred vendor (OSPAR) accreditation by the Association of Banks Singapore (ABS). We’re extremely proud to have been selected by the Association of Banks Singapore and together with our telco partners are looking forward to helping even more Singapore based financial services firms deliver secure and trusted communications to their customers.
Soprano Connect is in the process of being rolled out to our clients and feedback to date has been excellent. Over the coming four months we’ll continue to support our current and new clients with not only Soprano Connect but our wider solutions as more businesses appreciate how critical it has become to have a presence within mobile device environments and reach their audiences effectively, efficiently and safely.