Businesses are embedding communication technology into their applications to return human interaction to customer service, something that was lost when the corner store made way for the cable company.

That’s the view of Patrick Malatack, VP product development for cloud communications platform, Twilio.

“Technology, frankly, has been dehumanising a lot of our business transactions and we are now finally there with an opportunity for it to humanise those experiences through the power of software,” Malatack told Which-50.

“For a long time certain technologies have taken the humans out of our customer experiences. The opportunity we see is for the communications embedded into these applications to allow us to finally humanise these experiences again.”

Twilio allows any business to embed communications in their application. It is, for example, the technology enabling you to call your Uber driver.

Malatack said Twilio customers are designing workflows which use both humans and machines. Straightforward requests can be handled by chatbots and a human operator steps in when something more complicated arises with all the relevant contextual customer information at hand.

He said customers can receive a SMS from The Iconic telling them their order is on the way. If they reply to say they’ve changed their address the issue can be escalated to a member of the customer service team.

“What we are actually seeing is that it is usually a blend of AI and bots with humans that usually provides the best experiences,” Malatack said.

“It shouldn’t just be ‘no I’m a machine and I can’t understand you.’ We should automate the things that make sense to automate and  humanise the things that make sense to humanise.”

A business case for better communication

“Many of our communication experiences today with businesses are really, really broken,” Malatack said.

While the driver behind designing better customer communication systems is often a desire to create a better customer experience and improve NPS there are derivative benefits to the business as well, he argues.

“When you send the customer an alert or a notification you keep them informed and you treat them like a person should be treated it turns out they don’t call your contact centre as much,” he said.

“You frequently go from the original business case which was just around customer experience and having higher NPS and treating your customers better to these really, really tangible benefits like lower return rates if you’re in the retail space.”

Messaging and voice

Consumer communication trends are influencing the way businesses interact with their customers.

“Overall the macro trend we are seeing is consumers love to message one and other. Increasingly people want to interact with businesses the same way they interact with each other.”

The challenge for all businesses is determining where their customers are and how they want you to communicated with them, he said.

“These global consumer enterprises like Google, Apple, and Amazon are creating more and more channels for you to interact with your customer on.”

The result is the need to build communication platforms that support a variety of platforms and more channels.

“For businesses, the world of how you talk to your customers is getting more and more complex… Really it’s about making sure you communicate with your customers in the manner, in the channel which your customers want to communicate with you.”

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