Every in-person experience in the future will have a digital element and businesses that don’t adopt this model will take a hit on customer loyalty and relevance, according to Twilio chief customer officer, Glenn Weinstein, who shared his customer experience (CX) predictions with Retailbiz.

“We are never going back to fully analog.The pandemic forced us to figure out how to conduct meetings over video, collaborate virtually, and develop contactless customer engagement models,” he said.

“As we move into a post-pandemic world, in-person interactions will include the kinds of consumer-friendly digital communication that disruptor and incumbent companies adopted in 2020. In-person transactions will routinely include elements of digital engagement, such as text message updates that a table is ready, or medical appointments that begin with completing digital paperwork from home, continue at the doctor’s office for an in-person exam, and conclude back at home with a video check-up. Multichannel conversations are here to stay.”

Another prediction made by Weinstein was that businesses will need to embrace true customer engagement, utilising the right channel for the right conversation. For example, email marketers are learning when SMS is a more effective engagement tool, and vice versa.

“Contact centres will be able to initiate a trouble ticket with a voice call, continue via group text chat, and conclude on the web. Brands will increasingly meet their customers where they are, rather than force them into a pre-chosen channel,” he said.

“Increased commercial use of messaging services such as WhatsApp and Facebook, and adoption of new messaging technologies like RCS, will expand the options that consumers have for engaging with brands.”

Weinstein also expects virtual contact centres to become mainstream within the next five years with businesses eliminating their dependency on hardware.  

“Contact centres are one of the last large technology categories to migrate wholesale to the public cloud. In prior technology generations, public cloud software providers have come to dominate in CRM, email, HR management, financial management, ecommerce, and many other functions where organisations previously relied on physical infrastructure. However, contact centres still often depend on specific hardware and networking stacks from the legacy players. We will see this phase out as decision-makers see the economic writing on the wall and make the shift.”

According to Twilio chief product officer, Chee Chew, customer data will be an increasingly valuable asset to leverage personalisation at mass scale.

“In the past, wealth bought you personalization; for example, a personal shopper, but it come with hefty fees reserved for the elite. Digital is enabling companies to personalise at massive scale. Bricks-and-mortar stores can’t personalise the storefront when a customer walks in, but an online storefront can.

“Twilio bought Segment to democratise data by enabling companies to optimise customer data to create a more personalised customer experience. But we need to be incredibly cautious when it comes to handling customer data – with power comes great responsibility.”