SIGNAL 2023: Twilio’s CustomerAI vision and product announcements
Time to read: 6 minutes
Everyone is talking about it, and we’re all discovering new ways of using it every day.
But how will AI shape the future of customer engagement? What should brands bear in mind when they use AI to deepen customer relationships?
At SIGNAL 2023, we showcased CustomerAI, a set of capabilities woven throughout all of our products that couples the power of large language models (LLMs) with real-time customer data flowing through Twilio’s Customer Engagement Platform. CustomerAI will help you to truly listen to your customers, interpret the signals they’re sending you across channels, and activate them through personalized experiences for every individual.
It starts with enabling you to perceive your customers: to see them, hear them, and digest that information in a way that helps you determine what they want.
Then, we help you leverage that perception to understand your customers. We provide tools that help you synthesize all that data, and find the insights that drive personalized customer engagement for each person.
And then, we’ll help you activate those insights, engaging each customer at the right time, in the right place, and through the right channels. That’s the key to truly personalizing their experience based on everything they do.
At SIGNAL, we explained how all of this works together to become a flywheel for customer engagement, while also announcing new features to help our customers make this virtuous cycle a reality.
Let’s talk about what CustomerAI looks like in practice, across the stages of the flywheel, and how it can accelerate better engagement.
Your AI is only as good as your data, and that data can be messy. Without unifying it and making it intelligible across your organization, it’s not helpful.
You need to be able to harness the right data in the right way in order to perceive and understand your customers’ behavior at any and every part of their journey.
That’s the driving vision behind Twilio Segment’s composable customer data platform (CDP). It can help you with specific tasks, like adding events from your website, or support you in orchestrating an entire journey. You can choose where you start, whether that’s getting data from SaaS products into your data warehouse, or activating existing data with reverse ETL. That way, you can achieve your goal more quickly and efficiently.
As the #1 CDP in worldwide market share for the fourth year in a row according to IDC, Segment helps brands reduce or eliminate the complexity of their data by unifying it all in one golden profile, making that data easily usable. And now with Twilio’s Zero Copy Architecture—pilot coming soon—you don’t even have to move the data from your data warehouse or make copies of it. Now you can just query it directly with a click for use, whether that’s for segmentation, audience building, personalization, and more.
Segment is now expanding the golden profile with Segment’s B2B Edition with Linked Profiles, in private beta in Q4. It enables brands to understand each individual’s relationships to others. Users can link any customer information from any part of your business to a profile, enabling them to model beyond the individual to multi-user accounts, households, and more.
That’s not the only data hurdle we’re tackling. Voice data has always been a challenge because it’s unstructured and hard to analyze. However, it remains a critical customer service channel, where every call holds vast amounts of data. Twilio’s Voice Intelligence—newly available in public beta—brings structure to voice data, using a transcription and language operator tool that deploys conversational speech recognition to intelligently extract insights.
Comprehensive data requires a deeper understanding to activate well, and Twilio continues to invest in tools to help brands do just that.
One huge investment we’ve made is in CustomerAI Predictions in Segment, now generally available. We know that predictive models aren’t exactly new, but the ability to run them natively in your CDP is.
And that’s what Segment does: it makes engagement predictions easy. All you have to do is know what you want to predict—maybe it’s the date a customer will buy or possibly churn—and Segment will do the rest. You can use that data to plan when to send them an SMS text message with an offer to drive them into the store.
You also want to show customers you understand them when they come to you with questions or concerns. That’s why we’re making the Twilio Flex contact center even more powerful with GenAI Agent Assist, in private beta in Q4.
In partnership with Google Cloud, Flex customers can deploy GenAI Agent Assist to help them:
- Generate recommendations to agents
- Provide tailored “next best actions” they should take when interacting with a given customer
- Receive AI-generated rapid summaries at the end of calls
Additionally, Flex Unify— coming soon in public beta—will natively surface Segment’s rich customer profile data to agents in real time. This will help them see all of the rich details about a customer, like real-time purchase and return data, and click-stream activity, so they can tailor their conversation accordingly, empowering contact centers to increase customer lifetime value and boost sales conversions.
Being able to activate customers on the flywheel depends on three capabilities: deliverability, action, and insights.
You can’t engage customers if they aren’t receiving or seeing your messages. That’s why we’re focusing on deliverability with our Traffic Optimization Engine features, including:
- Real-time Routing, now generally available, which optimizes traffic using our patented algorithms.
- Market Throughput, currently in public beta, which reduces global delivery overhead by setting per-country rate limits by sender type.
- Multitenancy, currently in private beta, which ensures a fair allocation of traffic throughput across teams or ISV customers.
- Traffic Shaping, currently in private beta, which dynamically manages capacity per message based on sender, destination country, tolerated latency, and more.
- Insights, currently in private beta, provides real-time, out-of-the-box reporting on messaging deliverability, capacity allocation, and queueing.
Receiving a call, text, or email is only half the battle. Making each touchpoint relevant, and every journey cohesive, is key to driving action. We know that can be difficult and time-consuming, which is why we’ve invested in tools that simplify the process.
CustomerAI Generative Journeys, in public beta in 2024, will power your customer journey builder with Twilio Engage. It will be easier for marketing teams to build smarter audiences, content, and campaigns. Just describe who you want to market to, and Engage will do the rest.
CustomerAI Generative Email, in public beta in 2024, will even draft the perfect email based on your goals. All you have to do is enter simple text prompts that turn ideas into HTML in seconds.
While reaching a customer is critical, building trust in every communication is essential to driving action. We’ve all gotten spam calls or unwanted texts from unknown senders. The odds of you engaging are low if you suspect it isn’t the brand you know and love. With Trusted Communications, brands can leverage capabilities like Branded Calling, now in private beta. Essentially, a call that would’ve been marked as spam or screened gets picked up, because the brand’s logo pops up and the end consumer knows it’s safe to engage.
Trust goes both ways and no business wants to spend money on fraudulent accounts. Twilio Verify gives businesses a single API to make sure they know who they’re talking to; Twilio Verify Fraud Guard, now generally available, furthers that goal by using machine learning to proactively protect brands from SMS pumping attacks. That layer of protection now comes out-of-the-box for every new Verify customer and across every verification.
Beyond deliverability and action, communications should bring in new data to help you continuously improve your customer’s experience. That’s where Perception Engine comes in, currently in pre-release. It enables you to add the most important details of a conversation across channels—like an address, preference, or request—to your customer’s golden profile, all without training a machine learning model. This enables you to develop more relevant, timely, and engaging communications that are more likely to be read and acted on by customers.
We hope you are as excited as we are about these announcements unveiled at SIGNAL. Don’t miss all of the exciting keynotes and breakout sessions we have around what’s possible with Twilio and CustomerAI, now available on-demand for free on the SIGNAL platform.
Interested in learning more? To dive deeper into each of these announcements and capabilities, take a look at detailed blog posts on:
- Twilio’s approach to trusted CustomerAI
- Twilio Flex, now powered by AI and real-time data
- Twilio Segment extends real-time CDP to unlock AI
Joyce Kim is Twilio's Chief Marketing Officer and leads global marketing as Twilio executes its vision of becoming the leader in the emerging customer engagement category. Joyce brings over two decades of experience scaling commercial innovation and growth in the technology sector through large scale digital transformation and brand elevation strategies. Her expertise spans all facets of Go-To-Market including digital, brand, communications, channels and product strategy for global technology and SaaS companies.
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