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Delivering effortless customer engagement in retail

Hyper-personalising marketing strategies and data, analytics, and AI to improve customer experience have become crucial to driving loyalty

Advanced customer engagement platforms provide a new universe of data for businesses to deliver personalised customer experiences along the customer journey.
Advanced customer engagement platforms provide a new universe of data for businesses to deliver personalised customer experiences along the customer journey.

By Ved Antani

Today, most businesses offer various channels to communicate with and engage their customers across many touchpoints. Whether they are interacting with a business on social media, website, IM platforms, video, or in-person at a brick-and-mortar store, customers expect brands to respond to queries, needs, and desires in an efficient and valuable way, and on their preferred channel. 

The explosion of digital channels has thus made delivering consistent personalisation across these touchpoints more complex in the customer journey. Businesses now require an integrated view of customers’ current and past behaviour across all channels to build a holistic 360-degree view of each customer.

Let’s take a look at the retail space in India as an example. With customers increasingly moving to online shopping, the IBEF predicted that the country will become the world’s second-largest e-commerce market by 2034. 

However, with the growing ecosystem of home-grown retail brands and start-ups, maintaining customer loyalty has become a competitive game, even for the larger retail giants. The pandemic-induced expansion of online retail businesses has propelled the retail industry’s digital transformation, enabling widespread customer access to all sizes of retail players. According to Twilio 2022 State of Customer Engagement Report, 68% APJ businesses increased their digital customer engagement investment in 2021. With businesses having the capability to sell the same products to the same customers, the only important element to consider is how their customer engagement differentiates them from their competitors.

First-party data is now imperative

Advanced customer engagement platforms provide a new universe of data for businesses to deliver personalised customer experiences along the customer journey. The result is an increase in customer satisfaction. However, not meeting the customer’s data privacy and transparency requirements leads to a negative impact on the business bottomline.​ 

A retail business that leverages its customer data engagement platform to collect first-party customer data can access real-time customer insights and equip engagement teams to adopt behaviour-based automation and intuitive experimentation approaches. These will enable them to go from discussing ideas to executing campaigns quickly and independently, without overly relying on data teams to pull and analyse first-party data. According to the same report, 96% of businesses in APJ agree that fully owning and utilising customer data will be their biggest growth lever over the next three years. The report also indicates that adapting to the cookieless era over the next year is imperative for brands to create personalised services for their customers.

Move beyond personalisation to power digital experiences 

Using real-time insights from customer data provides businesses with an opportunity to add value to every interaction. With a solid foundation of actionable insights from online and offline customer activities, businesses can deliver targeted communication at every customer journey stage. The same survey states that 96% of B2C businesses say personalisation increases brand loyalty.

Hyper-personalising marketing strategies and data, analytics, and AI to improve customer experience have become crucial to driving loyalty. This acts as a differentiator in a customer’s willingness to purchase from the brand and opens doors to deepening existing relationships while creating new ones. A foundation built on clean, accurate, real-time first-party customer data is necessary for marketers to build audience groups at the micro-level, making intelligent, hyper-personalised engagement possible across every channel.

It’s no longer enough for B2C companies to think about digital customer engagement in the separate business contexts of marketing, support and product. Instead, companies that want to harness the power of the past two years of rapid digital transformation need to develop a holistic view of their customers across all touch points. 

That means a strong emphasis on meaningful personalisation, based on first-party data and a genuine understanding of your customer and how they interact with the business. Fostering such direct relationships is key, especially in a world where digital fatigue is growing. Customers are increasingly wary of brands that mishandle data, waste their time, or break their trust. Customers who feel that their data is being misused are now starting to abandon the companies that let them down. Trust is essential in every interaction. With a cookieless world at hand, companies that invest in first- party data and shift away from the world of third-party data stand to win. They will be able to maintain their awareness of customer preferences and behaviour, continue to offer personalised experiences, and build trust and respect with their customers.

The author is vice president, engineering and managing director, Twilio India

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