How to Update Your Avaya Contact Center with APIs

Avaya infrastructure puts your company on the wrong end of disruption. Augment your contact center with Twilio APIs to improve your customer experience.

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How to Update Your Avaya Contact Center with APIs

In the past, an on-premise legacy call center might have seemed like a great option… it promised stability, direction, and innovation. But what happens when all of that disappears?

When Avaya declared bankruptcy in January 2017, you had to answer that question.

In an attempted publicity spin, Avaya Corporate Treasurer John Sullivan wrote at Network World, “After looking at the multiple options of how to deal with our debt, we decided it was a critical next step in our transformation from a hardware company to a software and services company and the best path forward for our customers, partners and employees.”

The truth that Sullivan gets at is harsh:

Avaya recognizes selling solutions with hardware is outdated. However, their organization is occupied with fighting through their bankruptcy and restructuring. Once they’re done with that, their next step will be to enable innovation for their customers through software…

Worse yet, Avaya’s existing hardware infrastructure and cloud strategy doesn’t fit in with the increasing expectations of your customers. You’re now doing business in a landscape where your competitors recognize the importance of disrupting everyone else (and themselves) through innovation.

If you’re an Avaya customer, chances are it’s hard to think that far ahead. Your on-premise legacy partner has to deal with their own internal problems. Like many others — you’re figuring out the immediate future of your call center… but it’s a complicated topic. Moving away from one platform to another is a huge shift! Even minimal downtime is unacceptable.

Adding Communications Channels with Twilio APIs

As you’re investigating, you might be looking into other on-premise solutions. And, since you’re reading this, you’re trying to figure out what to do with an API-based solution. You may even have a couple of RFPs out, waiting on the pricing and professional services to come in.

Instead, you can try a different approach:

  1. Assess what new communications channels you need.
  2. Work with a few developers, for a week, to build a prototype of that channel with Twilio APIs and integrate it with your Avaya call center. (And, if your skillset is not technical, you can try our visual communications flow editor Twilio Studio.)
  3. Decide how to move forward (wait for RFPs, hope for Avaya, or continue building the channel internally).

Such an attempt might sound unusually simple… maybe even too good to be true! But it’s worked for some of the world’s best companies, like Morgan Stanley, ING Bank, and the New York Times.

As Joe McCorkle, VP of Engineering at RealPage (NASDAQ: RP), says, “Twilio made my job easy, made [our call center] work, helped us make money. We did it fast, on-time — and actually early.”

It could work for you as well, even while you tread water with your legacy Avaya infrastructure. Let’s see how Twilio can make your job easy, too.

Take Control of Your Call Center and Make It Customer Centric

An “average customer” doesn’t exist. Each customer is different — with different circumstances, needs, and expectations. Certainly, some might prefer a phone call (27% in the US), but others might like to solve problems through email (33%) or messaging (24%).

You already know that the one-size-fits-all approach to call center is dated…

That’s why it’s absolutely crucial for your call center to evolve into a contact center — one that personalizes all your communications. This personalization tailors each person’s experience, and makes every experience more customer centric.

For example, if you know a customer responds rapidly to emails but rarely ever phones in, you know better than to give them a call. If you know your customer needs support filling out a complex form, you could send them text messages for easy copying and pasting instead of trying to spell things out on the phone.

Unfortunately, creating this type of experience with legacy call center hardware is difficult. This type of customization can also be incredibly pricey. With your budget considerations in mind, you might deprioritize some parts of your experience and wait for Avaya to include it in their roadmap.

Making this jump to a personalized customer centric experience would always be “a couple of years away” for a legacy vendor… and for a company that’s just declared bankruptcy, it could take even longer. Your customers won’t wait.

Personalize Your Call Center with Natural Language Understanding

Don’t let another company’s roadmap determine your customer experience. Take control of your call center right now. Not only will you be able to fill your needs, you might also be surprised by the possibilities…

For example, have a look at how RealPage senior IVR developer Michael Reynolds integrated artificial intelligence into his company’s Avaya platform, using Twilio’s Natural Language Understanding engine. He writes:

How could I bolt AI onto our company's Avaya platform and what did Twilio have to offer? It turned out that Twilio has quite a lot to offer including their own Natural Language Understanding engine. The NLU is the part that can reduce spoken sentences, phrases, words and paragraphs to text strings. The addition of an "Intents Engine" adds the intelligence part to the AI suite so I began researching this market place. I settled on the Google offering which was called API.ai and is now known as "DialogFlow". I also like the Amazon Alexa suite and its Intents Engine, "Lex". I settled on the Google product because it is readily portable to both Siri and to Alexa.

When you personalize your call center, not only will you be keeping up with customer expectations, you can also enable your team to get ahead and actually innovate.

And best of all, you don’t need to migrate your legacy system just yet. You can augment it with APIs right now.

How to Accelerate Your Call Center Development Amidst Complexity

Imagine being able to assign batches of new numbers within minutes, and scaling existing systems to work globally within weeks. That might sound like a dream…

Further, imagine your architecture was set up so you’d need a product specialist every time you’d try to simply add a new phone number on your legacy Avaya hardware.

That Avaya nightmare was a reality for RingDNA founder Howard Brown while he worked as a VP of Marketing at CRC Health Group. Here’s how the situation was originally described:

To track phone leads from 400 unique telephone numbers, Brown had set up an Avaya hardware switch and tied it to Salesforce. In Brown’s words, “provisioning a new phone number with that setup was a disaster.” Every time he needed a new number, Brown had to make arrangements with his carrier, bring in an Avaya expert to adjust the switch and build a new custom object in Salesforce.

Brown’s idea was to simplify and accelerate that process. Using Twilio’s APIs, Brown makes sure no other Salesforce users have an agile alternative with his company RingDNA, which combines call tracking, inbound IVR and virtual call center capabilities into one Salesforce-integrated application.

Agility in the Modern Call Center

In this increasingly accelerated landscape, there’s no time for convoluted processes that come with legacy hardware. The new customer experience demands agility.

Understandably, this insight comes with a tough reality of migration. Realistically, it could take years to properly migrate away from Avaya… which is exactly the situation RealPage faced.

RealPage’s high volume Avaya contact center serves over 250,000 numbers and 18 million minutes of monthly traffic. Instead of waiting through years of development to port from Avaya infrastructure (which McCorkle describes as “the not-modern stuff”), his team started by moving the numbers and porting them to Twilio to activate MMS and SMS capabilities, without changing the back end. Working with Twilio and RealPage’s SIP provider Verizon, he could access Twilio features without spending capital expenditures and changing infrastructure.

As for that “imaginary” situation earlier in this section? It took McCorkle and his team just three weeks to go global.

“We will hopefully get away from Avaya sooner than later… I know I want to do that sooner than later, I just need more development people,” McCorkle chuckles.

Why Should Customer Experience Be Restricted by Licenses?

If you’ve ever wanted to do anything remotely interesting with Avaya, you probably know the pain of layering on additional individually licensed Avaya subproducts that go beyond the core. Amidst the differing pricing models (e.g. per concurrent user vs. per consumption vs. per application) and capabilities, you’d need to put together several licenses just to get a voice-only call center up and running.

This licensing and complex pricing structure gets in the way of agility. If you need all that information and structuring simply to set up a voice-only call center, imagine the work you’d need to put together an omnichannel contact center. By the time you’re done with that, you’ll have to continue catching up to newer innovations.

Augmenting Your Avaya Call Center with Twilio

Instead, try augmenting your legacy Avaya call center with these three crucial elements:

Attribute-based Routing: Omnichannel attribute-based routing with Twilio TaskRouter. The heart of a contact center that you can control from your code. Route any ticket, call, email, chat, text, or tweet to the best qualified and available agent. Unified logic across all communication channels simplifies deployment. Here’s how eLocal implemented TaskRouter to route calls based on agents’ skillsets, availability, and other attributes.

Omnichannel Engagement: Communicate with your customers through their preferred channel. Switch between channels seamlessly as your customer’s situation changes. Maintain interaction history across channels. Here’s how CarFinance 247 built an omnichannel contact center.

High Availability: Twilio maintains a redundant, clustered architecture designed to ensure reliable high availability service.

Moreover, instead of increasingly expensive and complex pricing models why not return back to the simplest one?

You only pay for what you use.

Twilio’s usage-based pricing model enables innovation to be orders of magnitude cheaper than Avaya and various other legacy alternatives. For example, Twitter moved all global voice connectivity to Twilio and they hit a 72% price reduction in total global voice spend.

With all the cost savings from each project, you and your team can reinvest in your call center, ensuring that there’s always room for innovation and improved customer experience. As customer satisfaction improves, customer retention improves, and your team gets a greater budget to move forward with an even better call center…

That can all start today.

Final Thoughts on Updating Your Avaya Call Center

You may feel tied down to your Avaya legacy backend for now… but you can still continue to move forward.

Instead of operating by the rules of a legacy communications vendor struggling with bankruptcy and debt problems, start augmenting your systems with Twilio’s APIs. There are a ton of improved customer experiences to be gained.

Since you only pay for what you use, there’s nothing for you to risk. Any costs you incur with Twilio will be a fraction of the expenditures spent in Avaya or another legacy system.You’ll also spend much less time waiting around for specialists, and more time learning and creating great customer experiences.

It’s time to take back control of your contact center for your company, your team, and your customer.