Twilio Frontline, announced at SIGNAL 2020, is now available in Public Beta. A mobile-first application for iOS and Android, Twilio Frontline is a superpower for sales teams and relationship managers, helping them to build lasting relationships with their customers over SMS and WhatsApp (with more channels to come) – in a secure and compliant way.
Balancing personal relationships, a need for customization, and privacy
Remote work and distributed teams have introduced new ways to do business digitally and revealed challenges many businesses face: maintaining control over their contacts, managing conversations for regulatory and legal reasons, and using those conversations to make their employees more productive through tech and coaching. In highly-regulated industries like financial services or healthcare and life sciences, there are even more compliance considerations.
Balancing compliance requirements and ease of use has always been hard. Too far in one direction means forcing employees to adopt tech they won’t or can’t use, and too far in the other means lack of visibility into potentially costly violations. To address these needs, IT teams had a few options: prohibit texting altogether, or rely on a solution like issuing locked down “work phones”, deploying an inflexible messaging application, or building a custom solution.
None of these struck that ideal balance.
As more and more companies have shifted to “bring your own device” policies, the costs associated with supplying, replacing, and managing business phones have become apparent. This business reality ushered in new applications and out-of-the-box solutions that were inflexible for IT and dev teams and not adopted by employees leading to unnecessary expenses, new compliance concerns, and lost sales opportunities. And, for all but the most advanced organizations, building a custom solution for sales team-to-customer communications does not rise to the top of a roadmap. The cost of not acting to secure conversations, however, is too high.
That’s where Twilio Frontline comes in. Frontline combines a pre-built and user-friendly UI with customizable integrations and workflows to allow enterprises to provide their employees with a secure, multichannel mobile application that they enjoy using. Meanwhile, their customers can continue using their channel of choice and are not required to download an app or use a different communication channel. Built on the Twilio Conversations API, developers can customize message routing logic, phone number proxying, templated responses, CRM integrations for customer contacts, and even custom contact display fields, without spending cycles on building and maintaining a frontend application.
Cargill, the global agriculture corporation with 155,000 professionals in 70 countries, is developing on Twilio Frontline for its LATAM sales team to communicate with their clients over preferred channels, like the WhatsApp Business API. The team found the app “dynamic and adaptable” for employees, kept customers comfortable by allowing them to use their preferred channels, and allowed conversation logs to be maintained in separate databases for access, if needed.
“Twilio Frontline is an excellent application for large organizations needing to meet compliance regulations,” said Marco Stephen Grant, Business Champion for Global IT Digital Solutions - LATAM at Cargill.
Programmable, mobile-first application
While many Twilio APIs are powerful building blocks, we approached the development of Twilio Frontline differently. Customers told us that developing a UI from scratch and maintaining an application can be one of the largest barriers to the deployment of a custom solution. With the pandemic accelerating digital communication timelines for global companies by an average of 6 years, time-to-market is critical. That’s why Frontline started with a user-friendly app available in the Apple App and Google Play stores. That’s also where the similarities to an out-of-the-box application end.
Whether the business requires custom message routing for inbound sales inquiries, bot integrations, or logic that only permits outbound messages to be delivered to opted-in contacts, flexible customization over every participant and message is possible through the Twilio Conversations REST API.
Since Frontline is designed to work alongside a customer database or CRM, we also expose callbacks that support integrations. You can subscribe to Callbacks the same way you subscribe to Webhooks — configure a URL that will process an incoming request and respond in a certain format. This allows you to expose approved templates or allow employees to view an up-to-date list of their customers or customized contact details in a single UI.
Compliant customer engagement
A common requirement we’ve heard among early adopters of Twilio Frontline was the need to ensure compliance with specific regulations or company requirements. For users of Frontline, this begins with secure single sign-on (SSO) using your existing Identity Provider to authenticate users. Frontline connects to any Identity Provider that supports SAML 2.0 — such as Google, Active Directory, Okta, etc. — enabling employees to use their SSO credentials to access Frontline, while allowing IT departments to seamlessly onboard and offboard team members.
Compliance doesn’t stop at onboarding and login; the application is designed to keep conversations both secure and archivable and keep personal details private. Essential to that privacy is the ability to create virtual phone numbers that are capable of proxying thousands of phone numbers with a single “digital” phone number, or unique numbers per employee. By defining the personal details shown on a customer screen, and proxying conversations, personal information is kept private while still allowing free-flowing communication.
Lastly, for industries with specific compliance requirements, developers can define additional workflows – such as blocking outgoing messages unless a customer has opted-in to receive messages, or integrating a profanity filter. With this level of customization, Twilio Frontline enables businesses to control and manage every conversation, while also giving employees the convenience of using a personal device and a user-friendly app that removes communication barriers for customers.
Start building relationships – not an app
User experience – and sales team productivity – is our north star as we roll out new features. Compliance or programmability only matter if sales teams can get their jobs done and enjoy using the technology. Cross-channel support and rich media for features like voice memos and emojis 😃📱, and seamless transfers among team members are designed to make Frontline feel like they’re using their favorite messaging app.
We can’t wait to see what you build!