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Text-based Channels in Twilio Flex – Some Considerations

Text-based Channels

A primary selling point of the Twilio Flex platform is support for rich, omni-channel interactions out of the box. Until recently, implementing and supporting multiple channels of customer interaction required using a variety of platforms or approaches. A number of contact center vendors are working on ways to remedy this. However, Flex stands out for its ability to scale, consistent approach and developer-friendly API platform.

The disadvantages to enterprises trying to cobble together an omni-channel approach quickly become obvious. Higher costs, working and contracting with multiple vendors, training and support inconsistencies and inconsistent behavior in customer interactions are a few.

Fortunately, the Twilio Flex developer-driven framework allows you to standardize your omni-channel approach on a single platform, but still keep your customizability options open.

What Are Text-Based Channels

For my next few posts, I would like to focus a bit on text-based channels. Text-based channels represent the real breakthrough in communicating with customers by enabling them to use one or more of the platforms they prefer. It’s fairly clear now that there is a major shift away from voice communication as the primary preferred approach for many people. We are also seeing a lot of interest in using one of these channels as a “gateway to Flex” or a way for enterprises to dip a toe in the water, particularly in contact centers that are still primarily voice-based.

What I’m calling text-based channels are really defined by a back and forth between the customer and your agent (or two-way typed communication). The cadence of this communication can vary substantially, from near real-time to long gaps between messages.

As a developer, I really like the way Flex abstracts the core behavior of these channels to use a standard pattern under the covers. To support these interactions, all text-based channels converge on Twilio’s Programmable Chat as the service to enable communication.

Thinking About Text-Based Channels

From our experience so far, the differences between these channels (what Flex calls a Task Channel) then fall into a couple of categories

  • How does the customer engage in the communication or how does the customer start talking to me?

  • How does that interaction get routed on the Flex platform so I can get it to the right agent or expert?

  • What type of interaction is it? Near real-time (web chat as an example) or more asynchronous (such as SMS).

  • What additional capabilities does the channel support, either natively or with some customization? This can be features like typing indications, emojis, inline images or video and so on.

I thought it would be interesting to observe at a high-level how these differences come into play in designing and thinking about the types of customer engagement you can enable in your contact center with Flex. The beauty of having this consistent way of implementing these channels on Flex is that it opens opportunities to focus on making your customer interactions the best they can be.

Next Steps

In my next few posts, I will dig into the details of each of these aspects a bit more and talk about how our Twilio team at Perficient approaches learning and discovery with our customers using these frameworks. Like all technology shifts, Flex offers a chance to step back and really consider how to best connect and stay connected with our customers in ways that may not have been possible before.

Consideration 1: Text-Based Channels In Flex – Customer Engages

Consideration 2: Text-Based Channels In Flex – Routing the Interaction

Consideration 3: Text-Based Channels In Twilio Flex – Velocity of Conversation

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Curtis Swartzentruber, Director, Customer Engagement Solutions

Director of Customer Engagement Solutions, currently focusing on the Twilio Flex contact center platform and other Twilio services. My background spans 25 years including Microsoft and front-end application development, unified communications, enterprise architecture and services, Azure, AWS, database design and a little bit of everything else.

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