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Businesses Need to Capitalise on Post Pandemic Digitisation Efforts; Reveals Twilio

A new study by customer engagement platform Twilio reveals how businesses’ digital acceleration in response to the covid pandemic has led to a wealth of channels that now need to be consolidated into nuanced, personalised customer engagement strategies in response to today’s consumer needs.

Customer retention is a hugely important factor for businesses at this time of economic uncertainty. Failing to address the challenges could have a significant negative impact on these businesses. The Twilio digitisation study examined the methods of contact offered by 100 of YouGov’s most popular UK brands and compared this to consumers’ surveyed experiences.

Since the pandemic, businesses have made huge progress towards digitisation. The Twilio study found that 48 per cent of the top 100 companies now offer online chatbots as a customer service channel.

Without taking advantage of first-party data to understand their customers and personalise their approach, businesses could be missing a big opportunity to engage with their customers.

Almost one in five have cut their phone lines (18 per cent), despite 87 per cent of customers wanting to speak to a person directly to solve a query. The study also found that 37 per cent of phone lines are not freephone.

Consumer opinion surveys also reflect this missed opportunity: 39 per cent feel that it is more difficult to reach UK companies now than it was in the past, despite there being more channels available than before.

Digital engagement options aren’t cutting it

A bid for efficiency has yet to pay dividends. Many companies offer digital options for engagement before phone lines: 36 per cent offer online chatbots, 12 per cent email and 7 per cent in-app communication.

Despite automation tools offering the opportunity to streamline digital engagement, 55 per cent of consumers think businesses aren’t dealing with their queries efficiently. This suggests that the technology implemented is not living up to expectations. This would suggest that businesses would benefit from back-end systems that can join the dots between interactions.

Businesses may also be over-reliant on options that don’t offer the opportunity for personalisation. Fifty-four per cent offer generic FAQs and 19 per cent contact submission forms before the customer reaches a phone number. While these options may be necessary, many are missing out on the opportunity to better understand customer needs. First-party data could be used here, for instance through using a ‘Customer Data Platform’ (CDP).

Many are also yet to take advantage of technologies that meet customers where they are. Only 3 per cent offered WhatsApp as an engagement option, and only 5 per cent offered accessible options such as British Sign Language-enabled calls tailored to deaf customers.

‘Forced to jump through hoops to get the response we want’

Samantha Richardson, customer engagement consultant at Twilio, explained the need for new strategies. Richardson said: “We all know that feeling when we need an answer from a company but we’re forced to jump through hoops to get the response we want.

“This frustration is usually a symptom of an unhealthy digital ecosystem. Many organisations aren’t taking advantage of first-party data tools like CDPs to build an engagement strategy, so they aren’t reaching their customers in the right way. Personalised, data-driven customer engagement can allow brands to interact with customers on their terms, remove friction, encourage dialogue, and ultimately improve their lifetime value to the business.”

If businesses can implement an effective strategy, it could significantly improve customer retention rates. In turn, this could have a positive effect on businesses’ bottom lines because customers who feel understood and valued are much more likely to return.


  • Tom joined The Fintech Times in 2022 as part of the operations team; later joining the editorial team as a journalist.

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