With millions of developers building on Twilio’s Customer Engagement Platform, we often say we have a front-row seat to the innovation in customer engagement. We also see some of the challenges developers and businesses face.
While many businesses have a goal of serving customers over multiple channels, they are faced with the complexities of integrating multiple channels (even with Twilio), orchestrating across channels, and managing groups. That’s what we set out to solve when we built Twilio’s next generation API for unified conversations across SMS, MMS, WhatsApp, and chat. Twilio Conversations is our answer to those challenges, and it’s now generally available.
We’ve seen developers turn to Conversations for chat-based support, WhatsApp conversations between businesses and customers, and to develop applications that unify all of the channels into one easy-to-manage view for employees.
Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work building out new features to make that development experience even simpler. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve been working on:
Most conversations with businesses today are limited to two people; between a relationship manager and a consumer, or a customer support agent and a customer. When more than two people become involved, most businesses are unable to support a natural group text. That’s particularly noticeable when most of us spend our days in group chats on Slack or WhatsApp.
Group Texting with Conversations allows developers to support up to four participants in a conversation while maintaining their identities using the MMS protocol in the US and Canada. Whether participants are using chat or WhatsApp, when viewed by a consumer on their native messages app, each message is attributed back to the correct participant. To reduce development time, the Conversations API automatically selects whether texts are displayed with SMS or MMS based on participants in a conversation.
Automatic Conversation Archival
Conversations often don’t end cleanly. Sometimes consumers get distracted or just stop talking, which previously meant a graveyard of incomplete conversations that needed to be cleaned up. With States and Timers, there’s no longer a need to manually remove old conversations via REST API or build these features on your own. Enabling States and Timers will automatically archive conversations if they’re inactive for a day, a week, or even a year. Control those timers programmatically to drive the right UX for your customers.
To allow developers to understand message and conversation performance, Conversions includes Delivery Receipts. Developers have visibility into the status of Conversation Messages sent across different channels, including whether messages have been sent, delivered, or even read (for OTT) by Conversations Participants.
As many healthcare practices move to a virtual first standard of care, messaging for screening, virtual waiting rooms, and ongoing care are becoming common. We’re now able to support compliant healthcare use cases that contain protected health information (PHI) for organizations that are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Twilio will sign Business Associate Addendums (BAA) with covered entities and business associates for HIPAA Eligible Products and Services using the chat and SMS channels on the Conversations API. Read more about our guidance on architecting for HIPAA on Twilio.
Migrating from Programmable Chat to Conversations
As the next generation of the Programmable Chat API, we’ve automatically converted all existing Chat Channels to Conversations Channels. Upgrading to the Conversations API gives developers access to all of the new features on the Conversations API and allows you to add channels to your use case with minimal code. We’ve put together this helpful guide to explain core concepts, differences, and best practices for migrating.
We’ll continue to build more features to support your conversational customer engagement and reduce dev time to get your app into production. Check out the Docs for all of the updates. We can’t wait to see what you build!