Transforming customer experiences with AI
AI News caught up with Hema Thanki, EMEA Senior Product Marketing Manager for Twilio Segment, to discuss how the company is using AI to transform customer engagement and personalisation.
AI is fundamentally reshaping customer engagement and personalisation by enabling businesses to deliver tailored experiences and responses to individual customer preferences on a large scale.
During our conversation, we discussed how Twilio is at the forefront of this revolution as well as addressing the stark contrast between companies’ claims of personalisation and customers’ actual experiences.
AI News: How are you using AI to deliver more personalised and satisfactory customer experiences?
Hema Thanki: According to Twilio’s recent State of Customer Engagement report, 91 percent of companies say they always or often personalise engagement with consumers. But, consumers don’t agree. Only 56 percent of consumers report that their interactions with brands are always or often personalised.
Instead of becoming “customer-centric,” most companies have become “system-centric.” Exploding tech stacks and patchwork solutions lead to fragmented data, an incomplete view of the customer and, ultimately, disjointed experiences.
The reality is that every consumer is a complex individual with unique wants and needs that change from moment to moment. In order to truly put customers at the heart of your business, you need to be able to know who your customers are, understand how to best meet their needs and exceed their expectations, and then activate those insights to engage them how, when, and where is most relevant and meaningful to them.
These elements make up the engagement flywheel that is key to powering dynamic customer engagement that adapts to every individual customer at scale.
We recently announced Twilio CustomerAI to unlock the power of AI for hundreds of thousands of businesses and supercharge the engagement flywheel. With CustomerAI, brands can expand their perception of customer data, activate it more extensively, and be better informed by a deeper understanding of their customers.
AN: What are some examples of how businesses can use Twilio CustomerAI?
HT: Today’s marketers need to not only understand past customer behaviour but must be able to anticipate and act on customers’ future wants and needs. AI and machine learning (ML) models are incredibly effective at doing this but are complex to build and require data science expertise.
With CustomerAI Predictions now generally available, Twilio Segment is putting the power of predictive AI at marketers’ fingertips. Without having to tap technical teams, marketers can now create precisely targeted audiences out-of-the-box, trigger customer journeys, and personalise multichannel experiences based on a customer’s predicted lifetime value (LTV), likelihood to purchase or churn, or propensity to perform any other event tracked in Segment.
Brands like Box are using Predictions to save time, optimise campaign performance, and discover revenue opportunities:
“As marketers, the holy grail is to reach your customers and prospects in a way that is meaningful, relevant and additive to them. CustomerAI Predictions has equipped Box’s marketing team with the ability to forecast customer behaviour to a degree that was simply unavailable to us before.
We’ve been able to explore segmenting our audience based on predictive traits like who is most likely to join us at in-person events or who is more likely to purchase, and this allows us to meet those people where they are in their customer journey. Tools like Predictions put marketers at the centre of this new era of AI which is transforming how companies engage and retain their customers.” – Chris Koehler, CMO at Box.
AN: What other emerging AI trends should people be keeping an eye on?
HT: When companies rely on managing data in a customer data platform (CDP) in tandem with AI, they can create strong, personalised campaigns that reach and inspire their customers. Here are four trends in AI personalisation.
- Personalised product recommendations: Using AI to serve personalised product recommendations is a way to ensure your customers are being served optimized content. It can also build trust with your brand, leading to repeat purchases. Take Norrøna, an outdoor clothing brand in Scandinavia. They built a complete recommendation platform – from data collection to machine learning predictions, in just six months. Norrøna relied on Segment for the collection and management of client–side and server–side customer data. Segment assigned an ID to each customer and ensured the data collected on them was clean, thanks to the schema.
- Behaviour–based email campaigns: AI is getting us as close as possible to identifying patterns in user interactions and helping with creating behaviour–based email campaigns. If a customer frequently clicks on one type of email content, an AI–powered system could trigger an email to that customer containing content related to what they are clicking. Using Twilio Engage, you can send emails right from the Segment app, relying on your first-party customer data to lead the way.
- Dynamic website content: The days of static landing pages are in the past, thanks to tools that collect user behaviour and churn out personalised website content in real-time. In fact, Segment’s website displays dynamic content to customers based on their own interests—thanks to integration with Mutiny. Whenever a visitor lands on the Segment website from a particular IP address, they will be met with personalised landing pages based on their unique behaviour. This means personalised content for every single visitor.
- Predictive customer segmentation: Predictive Audiences let businesses target users who have an increased likelihood of performing an event. It works with out-of-the-box audience templates that are pre-built with Predictions. They include templates like “ready to buy” or “potential VIPs.” AI can then analyse these profiles to create predictive segments. For instance, AI could identify a group of customers who are likely to churn based on their behaviour. This allows you to proactively engage with these customers through tailored retention campaigns.
AN: Do you have any best practices and tools that you use for testing, monitoring, and debugging your AI models and applications to ensure quality and reliability?
HT: Customer data unlocks the promise of AI as a unique market advantage, but your AI is only as good as the data you put into it. If your data is siloed, stale, inconsistent, and incomplete, your AI outputs will reflect that. At Twilio Segment, we have a long history of helping companies build trusted data infrastructures with unified, real-time, consistent, and consented data that is critical to your AI strategy.
Our composable CDP ensures your data is AI-ready, helping you collect, clean, and activate customer data with our open, API-first platform and 450+ pre-built connectors that enable you to start with data anywhere and activate it everywhere.
With Segment, you choose where you start. Whether that’s getting data from SaaS products into your data warehouse, or activating existing data with reverse ETL, Segment gives you the flexibility and extensibility to move fast, scale with ease, and efficiently achieve your business goals as they evolve.
AN: Are you seeing more customers looking for AI solutions to improve operational efficiencies amid global economic uncertainties?
HT: Marketers spend massive amounts of time writing, designing, and building campaigns and customer journeys. With generative AI soon available (scheduled for public beta in 2024) inside Twilio Engage and Segment CDP, marketers can save precious time, boost productivity, and optimise for stronger results.
Using the new CustomerAI Generative Email coming to Twilio Engage, marketers will be able to enter simple text prompts that turn ideas into HTML in minutes. This builds on the AI capabilities available in Twilio Engage today, such as our Smart Email Content Editor which suggests conversion-worthy email headlines, images, and calls-to-action to drive better engagement with the click of a button.
Meanwhile, marketers will be able to skip the manual process of architecting customer journeys thanks to CustomerAI Generative Journeys. Soon, they will be able to simply describe campaign type (promotional, win-back, etc.), audience definition, and which channels they want to use, then Twilio Engage will automatically build the journey using generative AI—saving marketers time while accelerating growth.
AN: What will Twilio be sharing with the audience at this year’s AI & Big Data Expo Europe?
HT: Twilio Segment is excited to be taking part in AI & Big Data Expo Europe in 2023! As a proud sponsor, we’ll have a strong exhibiting presence – feel free to drop by stand 242 to meet a member of the team and discuss how Segment can collect, unify and activate your customers’ first-party data.
We’ll be joined by Folkert Mudde from Albert Heijn who’ll be talking through their positive partnership highlighting how the supermarket chain supercharges personalisation for 4+ million recognised users with Twilio Segment. Check out this session on 26 September within the ‘Applied Digital, Data & AI’ track at 14:30 CET.
Arthur Viegers, SVP of Global Engineering at Twilio Segment, will be taking part in a dynamic panel discussion on 27 September at 11:40 CET on the topic of ‘The Future of AI-Enabled Experiences’.
Twilio Segment is a key sponsor of this year’s AI & Big Data Expo Europe on 26-27 September 2023. Swing by the company’s booth at stand #242 to hear more about AI from the company’s experts.