Twilio study reveals how digital adoption will drive customer engagement in 2021.
In 2020, digital engagement kept us all connected. In 2021, it will be crucial to every businesses’ success and survival. Twilio’s The State of Customer Engagement Report 2021 that polled over 2,500 global enterprise decision-makers, reveals the trends driving CX in 2021.
Digital transformation, the macrotrend that defined the past decade, accelerated at a remarkable rate in 2020. Creative new solutions were built out of necessity to keep us all connected despite physical distance. Boundaries between our online and offline lives dissolved.
According to Twilio, 87% of businesses reported that digital communications were critically or very important to their survival during the pandemic. 96% said NOT digitizing customer engagement would have negatively impacted their business.
Digital Engagement Hits New Highs
The report also revealed that most companies sped up their digital strategies two to four weeks after the initial pandemic lockdown in their countries. In-person interactions moved online at light speed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every organization raced to build new ways to engage customers, communities, and constituents. Digital engagement did not just keep organizations afloat; more digital touchpoints are giving organizations better insight into their customers and leading to higher customer satisfaction. Businesses have no intention of going back.
The challenge â€” and opportunity â€” is that more interactions across more channels generate a flood of customer data that organizations struggle to make actionable for the customer. Why? The process of collecting and making sense of multiple digital touchpoints has always required specialized machine learning engineers and expensive data expertise.
Twilio suggests that businesses will arrive at the holy grail: personalization at consumer scale. Earlier, only a handful of the largest brands had the resources to offer truly personalized customer experiences. The combination of soaring digital engagement and customer data platforms that abstract away complexity will allow all businesses to build a richer and more holistic view of their customers and tailor the experience they deliver for millions.
How Digital Adoption Fosters an Agile Workforce
2020 irrevocably changed what modern work looks like. At one point in the year, more than half of the global workforce was working remotely, enabled by digital communication tools that replace in-person interaction. Many office workers will never go back full-time. Every day more businesses announce flexible remote work policies. These changes open up employers to increasingly distributed teams and new talent markets. Accelerated migration to the cloud and adoption of remote contact centers are enabling a growing, agile workforce.
The report found that 92% report COVID-19 accelerated their move to the cloud, while 95% reported they planned to increase or maintain their current communications channel offerings after the pandemic.
Employees dividing time between home and office is not the only way the workplace is transforming. Companies are using digital communications to reimagine their front-line engagement so that employees can serve customers from anywhere, under any circumstances. Sales associates are using text and video to deliver personalized recommendations to clients from the sales floor. Cable technicians can field problem reports and troubleshoot remotely. Food delivery workers let customers know when their orders will arrive from the road for contactless drop-offs.
Digital’s Impact on Healthcare, Finance, and Public Sector
Healthcare providers embraced multichannel tools to deliver care virtually. Banks leaned into customer-facing digital services, using mobile apps, messaging, and chatbots as the primary interaction with customers. Governments used communications software to build contact tracing solutions and keep residents safe. Even courts held hearings via videoconference. These highly regulated industries (HRIs) are embracing digital at a rapid pace, cracking open new opportunities that normalize more consumer-centered experiences.
92% reported COVID-19 spurred their company to explore new strategies to serve customers. 46% increase in digital customer engagement in HRIs due to COVID-19.
The working world will no longer be constrained by shared physical locations or physical hardware. The average knowledge worker will spend close to half their time in the office and half remote, while service workers day-to-day will be enhanced with digital communications. Businesses will maintain the new workflows they have created to drive additional customer loyalty and create new revenue streams.
We expect leading healthcare providers to differentiate themselves by leveraging technology to connect and support patients as they go about their daily lives, a critical step in improving population health and lowering costs. Banks no longer view online banking as a secondary channel. A great online experiences being built will attract new generations of customers and create opportunities to serve the unbanked and underbanked. In the public sector, digital communications will connect government agencies with more constituents more directly, enabling new avenues for dialogue.
As digital transformation reaches the last mile â€” front-end customer engagement â€” it is becoming clear that the way marketers make a customer feel is as important as their core product or service. Great online experience cannot be bought; it must be built. Forward-looking organizations are now focused on building the best customer experiences around their product, using flexible software building blocks (APIs) to set themselves apart. Businesses that can listen to customers and adapt to what they hear at the pace of software will win.