Call Center APIs to Compose Modern Customer Experiences
Learn the seven key advantages of API-based contact centers. Build an entire contact center from scratch, or simply add the features you want.Learn More
Call Center APIs to Compose Modern Customer Experiences
Call centers have entered a new reality—one in which customers can communicate over the channels they prefer and agents can respond through the unified system they already know. They’ve shifted from traditional, phone-based call centers to multichannel contact centers, designed to improve customer experience.
This type of contact center isn’t a system companies can buy off the shelf—these contact centers are built with APIs.
APIs are like building blocks. Using APIs, you can build an entire contact center from scratch, or simply add the features you want to the one you already have. API-based contact centers offer seven key advantages:
- Better customer experience.
- Add channels easily.
- Boost agent productivity.
- Scale elastically.
- Global reach.
- Easy iteration.
- Cost control.
Let’s take a closer look at each advantage.
Better customer experience
Today, customers reach out to your contact center because they want to accomplish something they couldn’t do using your website or app. They contact your business by phone, in-app chat, or via another channel expecting to achieve one of two outcomes:
- Connect to someone who can help them right away.
- Take a specific action using your IVR (e.g., activate a new credit card).
So when they encounter friction, they’re even more frustrated. They’ve likely spent a long time trying something online and failed, only to find themselves waiting on hold, or worse, trapped in a never-ending IVR menu.
It’s no fun if you’re on the business end of bad customer experience either. Twilio’s recent Customer Communications Report found that after a poor communication experience, 38% of customers will switch to a competitor or cancel orders or services, 66% will tell a friend about their experience, and 41% will stop doing business with the company altogether.
No company sets out to create a bad customer experience—they’re doing the best they can given the complexity and constraints of their legacy contact center systems. And while customer expectations have evolved, updating contact center systems today is not much easier than it was a decade ago. With APIs however, you can use what you know about your customers, from all of your data sources, to create an experience that anticipates their needs and provides the right service. You can know who’s calling and why, and provide tailored experiences for each caller.
In addition, the API approach allows you to use intelligent routing to break down the silos that block routing decisions. That way, you can prioritize tasks from all sources and send them to the right agent. Take post-call surveys over voice or SMS to improve your customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. With analytics, create a single set of reports that you can act on, with information from all your channels and data sources. And with voice call recording, you can gain a deeper understanding of your customers through sentiment analysis and keyword spotting.
Add channels easily
APIs let customers engage with you on the channels they use every day. When you build your contact center with APIs, you can provide the full omnichannel experience, or just add the channels you need one at a time. Twilio API building blocks include Programmable Voice, SMS, Chat, Video, Sync, Notify, and TaskRouter, which fit together to build a world-class contact center experience piece by piece.
Explore each of the following channels to determine the priorities for your contact center:
- Voice - Let customers reach you by phone, or schedule a call back from your website or app.
- SMS - Provide direct messaging between customers and agents for quick resolution.
- Chat - Complete transactions and transfer rich, context-aware data over secure web chat.
- Video - Enable face-to-face conversations for identity verification, content sharing, or visual problem resolution—all within your app.
- Routing - Coordinate across all your channels with intelligent routing that prioritizes tasks from every source and sends them to the right agent.
Boost agent productivity
With APIs, you can build a contact center that equips your agents to anticipate and meet customer needs effectively across multiple channels. Integrated agent communications enable quicker resolution. By providing your agents with the exact information they need about each specific customer, you’re empowering them to give excellent customer service.
By adding a WebRTC Gateway, your agents can take calls from their browser wherever they’re based. Whether you’re opening a contact center in the Philippines or enabling home workers, you can create a customized dashboard where agents can connect with customers on any channel, armed with context from your CRM. With an outbound dialer, you have complete control over call flows and routing logic so agents can spend their time with customers.
TaskRouter sends prioritized tasks from across all channels to the agents most qualified to resolve them. A customized interactive voice response (IVR) lets agents focus on complex issue resolution while your IVR handles routine requests and interactions. Call recording helps you provide better training and insight into customer needs through sentiment analysis and keyword spotting. Other tools, such as instant feedback surveys and analytics reports, provide agents with information from all your channels and data sources that they can act on immediately.
When you build a contact center using APIs, you’re in control of creating the experience that you want to deliver to your customers. And you can do so with little to no telecommunications knowledge required. As your contact center’s points of integration, flows of usability, and channels of interaction change over time, you can adjust—in real time—and create the customer experiences you need to stay competitive.
As your needs and use cases fluctuate, simply scale up or down with no penalties. Because APIs adjust automatically, you can focus on what you want to build instead of worrying about capacity and hardware planning. And since APIs are structured on a pay-as-you-go model, you can grow flexibly with technology that scales with your business, without the risk of oversubscription charges.
Going global? You don't need to negotiate with carriers in every country in which you do business. Because APIs are based in the cloud, you can ensure a local experience from anywhere with access to global infrastructure and uptime that exceeds the 99.95% SLA. By aggregating the requirements of tens of thousands of customers, cloud platforms offer greater reliability than what most can afford to implement independently. Global carrier connectivity provides multi-function numbers and unrivaled reliability.
Skip the negotiations with carriers and get instant multi-region connectivity and on-demand phone numbers around the world from one platform. Connect SIP phones without deploying PBXs for agents who need a physical phone with a SIP trunking service that provides unlimited concurrent call capacity. ING Bank’s example shows how even a massive global organization in a heavily-regulated industry can make the shift from monolithic, legacy-based systems to a flexible, API-powered organization.
To create a great customer experience, you need to experiment, gather customer feedback, look at the metrics that make sense for your company, roll back the things that didn't work, and keep the things that did work. Ideally, you should test and measure the components of your contact center just like you do with your webpage or mobile app.
Most companies redesign their websites every six months to two years, according to Hubspot. That’s an entire redesign, above and beyond all the copy updates and new webpages added even more frequently. Similarly, the most popular mobile apps get updated every 30 days or so, according to mobile intelligence platform Sensor Tower. So why don’t businesses treat their contact center the same way? With legacy ecosystems and complex systems, it often takes months of meetings, consultants, RFPs, and negotiations just to get going.
But with a contact center built on APIs, it’s easy to use analytics to track, measure, and iterate so you can constantly improve the customer experience.
By moving communications out of hardware into the realm of cloud-based software, you can convert capex to opex. Without compromising quality, you can prototype, build, deploy, and rapidly iterate, all in a loop that improves with each cycle.
Because Twilio is vendor-agnostic, our API can integrate with your current CRM, contact center infrastructure and existing channels. Rather than enforcing a set of certified applications and relying solely on in-house developers for innovation, Twilio draws on a vast pool of developers in the wider community, constantly building their own solutions using all kinds of platforms and software, and sharing the code with other Twilio users. Armed with this knowledge, your in-house team can build, integrate and test with agility, and little or no impact on existing infrastructure.
This allows you to rapidly transform your existing contact center into an omnichannel customer engagement center with modest budget investment.
Want to future-proof your contact center with APIs? Check out this interactive infographic to learn how.
The Programmable Contact Center Platform
There's also a new option on the market: the programmable contact center platform. Flex, which is built on Twilio APIs, is an omnichannel contact center that’s instantly deployable out of the box and programmable at every layer of the stack. Contact center buyers no longer have to choose between the old dichotomy of build (with legacy on-premise solutions that require high costs and lengthy development cycles) vs buy (SaaS solutions with limited off-the-shelf features and functionality). Now with Twilio Flex, companies can both buy an out-of-the-box contact center and build a completely custom experience to meet their business objectives today or in the future.