‘CRM is not enough’ | The Manila Times

SINGAPORE: This year, customer engagement platform provider Twilio brought its user and developer conference to the island-city state, where the tech company gathered senior executives, developers and partners from across industries to discuss how innovative companies use omnichannel communications and data to drive customer engagement.

Dubbed Signal Singapore 2023, no less than Jeff Lawson, Twilio’s co-founder and chief executive, was present at the event to highlight the company’s communication services and communications platform as a service (CPaaS) offerings, with greater emphasis on the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Twilio provides programmable communication tools for making and receiving phone calls, sending and receiving text messages, and performing other communication functions using its web service APIs.

n Jeff Lawson, co-founder and chief executive of Twilio. Photo by The Manila Times

n Jeff Lawson, co-founder and chief executive of Twilio. Photo by The Manila Times

Beyond CRM

For over two decades now, customer relationship management (CRM) has been the primary process, particularly in the digital age, in which businesses or other organizations administer their interactions with customers, typically using data analysis to study large amounts of information.

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“CRM is simply not enough,” declared Lawson in his keynote on Wednesday at the Raffles City Convention Center in Fairmont, Singapore. “This is the dirty secret of the industry. Every customer I talked to tells me that despite the fact that we poured, you know, collectively, tens of billions of dollars a year into the CRM solutions, it’s not working. Customers are still getting this disjointed experience.”

For Lawson, the solution for companies or brands to level up customer relationships is through the use of AI in the platform, acting as the “magical employee” who would personally take care of and look after every customer’s needs and wants.

“This is a set of predictive and generative AI capabilities that allow you to take data, understand each customer and apply that understanding across every single touchpoint, and make the experience amazing,” said Lawson. “The new generation of large language model-powered assistants are smart. You just need to give access to data, to knowledge about your company. You’re going to point it on your website, knowledge bases, facts, policies, and it’s just going to take all this data and soak it up. You don’t have to do any special training; you literally just point it to available information that is out there.”

What is CustomerAI?

In August, Twilio formally launched CustomerAI, which is aimed at businesses “to organize and pair signals coming from various channels such as text messages and calls to web and mobile activity, contact center conversations, and email correspondence, with generative and predictive artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.” This, according to Twilio, could help their business subscribers to “better understand and provide deeper value to their customers.”

Through CustomerAI, Twilio’s AI-aided platform could couple the power of large language models (LLMs) with the rich customer data that flows through its customer engagement platform to “help companies unlock the potential of their customers.” Further, brands could now expand their “perception of customer data, activate it more extensively, and be better informed by a deeper understanding.” Twilio added that the company developed these new AI-powered capabilities and enhancements to push the envelope of what’s possible for customers by leveraging its proprietary technology and working with a close group of trusted, world-class partners that meet its privacy and data protection standards. Showcasing the impact of CustomerAI across the Twilio Customer Engagement Platform, AI is all about making it “faster and easier for companies to deliver truly personalized experiences to customers.”

In effect, AI and machine learning (ML) models could help “anticipate and act on future customer behavior.” However, effective, complex models require real-time data and data science expertise. By putting the power of predictive AI at marketers’ fingertips, they can now “create hyper-targeted audiences out-of-the-box, trigger customer journeys, and personalize multichannel experiences based on a customer’s lifetime value (LTV),” this, even without having to tap on knowledgeable technical teams.

“With generative and predictive intelligence, Twilio’s high-quality interaction data can be highly personalized and tuned with a level of sophistication that was previously only attainable by the tech giants,” said Lawson in an earlier press statement. “With Twilio CustomerAI, brands can transform their customer relationships and unlock their full potential.”

In addition, as Twilio pushes its CustomerAI tools and leverages its proprietary technology, the San Francisco, California-based tech company is working with trusted industry leaders like AWS, Google and OpenAI to meet its privacy and data protection standards. It is building CustomerAI safely and responsibly and recently published its CustomerAI Trust Principles as a part of this commitment to build privacy and security by design into its product development lifecycle and will ensure companies have full transparency and control of the data that informs AI-powered interactions with their customers. This, as marketing and product innovators are moving beyond generic personalization based on demographics or location to achieve that “excellent personalization” they are looking for on targeted customers,

“I am confident that one of the amazing uses of AI will be to build better companies,” said Lawson. “AI is going to spin this flywheel of understanding and engagement faster and faster and faster. And the companies who take advantage of that, they’re growing ten times better at serving their customers, and they’re going to do it at one-tenth of the cost, and that will be a game-changer for every single industry.”