The vast majority of UK businesses (72%) increased investment in digital customer engagement in 2021 and many are reaping the rewards. In fact, those that did invest in customer engagement technology increased revenues by 58%.
The rewards for businesses don’t stop at direct financial benefits. Many businesses reported that these technologies also positively impact customer retention and trust: two in five UK businesses (40%) said that investing would increase loyalty, while 42% said it would increase trust.
According to the research from customer engagement platform Twilio, 39% of global businesses cited “lack of in-house talent” as a roadblock to digital customer engagement strategy. In the UK, nearly half of respondents (47%) said that they lack the in-house talent to run digital customer engagement programmes, which is a barrier to resilience in the long run. This is significantly higher than in the US, where one third (33%) said they had a talent gap.
The pandemic has proven that effective digitisation is fundamental for long-term business resilience. Digitisation was not only paramount to empower businesses to continue serving customers when in-person interaction was not possible; it also offered customers greater flexibility in the longer term, which has shaped consumer behaviour and preferences for good. Yet the tech talent shortage has impacted organisations’ ability to digitise rapidly and effectively, and this is true in the area of customer communications and engagement as much as any other.
It’s crucial that this issue is addressed now, as customer engagement is going to continue to move over to a more digital playing field. By 2025, businesses expect that digital customer engagement will increase 47% from pre-pandemic levels globally.
Customer engagement impacts business bottom line
Yet at the same time, strong customer engagement has never been more important. In fact, consumer opinions demonstrate that a failure to engage effectively with your customers could significantly affect the bottom line. Nearly nine in ten UK consumers (89%) said that they would stop doing business with a company after a frustrating customer experience. One fifth (21%) said they’d cut ties if they could not connect to someone from customer support, and 16% if they knew they could get better customer experience from a different company.
Concurrently, organisations who have successfully invested in their customer engagement strategy have reaped the benefits. UK businesses who did so saw revenue increased by 58%, but other markets saw even greater returns: France saw a 70% rise, the US 79%, Colombia 95%, Brazil 95%, and Mexico 91%.
“This research demonstrates what we have known for a long time: that good customer engagement matters,” said Paul Adams, vice president, EMEA at Twilio. “While insufficient in-house talent can be an issue for implementation of customer experience strategies, the research shows that overcoming it has a truly positive impact on a business’ bottom line.
“The lack of tech talent in the UK is well documented, but there are ways in which companies can mitigate this, for example using partner networks or easy-to-implement APIs that can help stretched tech teams build solutions more quickly. Overcoming the tech skills gap is a long term play, but one that should undoubtedly be prioritised at all levels to ensure long-term digitally-driven company resilience and business success.”
The report goes on to find that, globally, utilities, professional services and retail industries saw the greatest digital acceleration as a result of the pandemic. Utilities and energy companies reported that it sped up their organisations’ digital transformation strategies by 7.9 years, 7.6 years for professional and technical services and 7 years for retail and ecommerce businesses.
Split globally by industry, construction companies reported saw the greatest ROI from digital customer engagement strategies with an 88% revenue boost, while telecoms saw an 83% lift and tech 82%.