Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About TaskRouter

Supercharge your contact center by routing calls, leads, tickets, and more with the Twilio TaskRouter API. This is automatic call distribution at its finest.

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About TaskRouter

“Hi — can I put you on hold for a second?” the customer service rep says.

“Sure,” you respond. Ten minutes later, you hate muzak even more than you already did and are about to hang up, when finally…

“Hi, thanks for holding,” he says.

“No problem.”

“Just give me two more minutes, please! We’re really busy here.”

It’s unbelievable that this situation takes place today, with automatic call distributors (ACDs) so widely available. Of course, humans can serve as reliable call distributors, but ACDs can answer promptly, route more calls quickly, and take on more people simultaneously.

Automatic Call Distribution

Automatic Call Distribution

Like many other ACDs, Twilio TaskRouter can distribute tasks such as phone calls, texts, leads, support tickets, and other work items to the people and processes that can best handle them. There are many real-life applications, but here are some common ones in which TaskRouter plays the role of ACD:

  • Distributing calls to call center agents. TaskRouter supports common features required in call center environments, such as skills-based routing and task prioritization.
  • Prioritizing and assigning CRM cases to agents. TaskRouter lets you specify overflow rules for tasks, allowing you to vary assignment rules based on case content and time spent in queue.
  • Distributing leads to inside sales teams. TaskRouter's business rules allow you to control prioritization so that your team is always working on the most important opportunity.

In an age where it’s crucial to create personalized experiences for each customer’s unique needs, TaskRouter is the intelligent system that enables your call center to scale. In the introductory post for TaskRouter, Twilio product director Al Cook described it as the beating heart of a contact center, able to dynamically assign tasks of any type to the workers that can best handle them. “Calls, SMS, support tickets, leads or even machine data can be routed based on the ‘skills’ required and the priority set,” Cook explained.

That means TaskRouter can connect specialized agents with customers trying to solve specific problems, monitor and route callers based on availability and customer preferences, and prioritize certain customers (e.g., ones who’ve been waiting long, a repeat caller, or a VIP customer).

And here’s the secret that enables TaskRouter’s ACD capabilities…

Introducing Workflow Logic

Imagine you’re on a weekend getaway making eggs. Your mother and brother like their eggs scrambled, your friend prefers them over easy, and your father and sister want to go hiking so they’ll take them hard boiled.

This task of making eggs for each person results in the same output, but the workflow is very different. Scrambling eggs requires a different technique from making them over easy, as does hard boiling them.

Workflow Twilio TaskRouter

In business operations, as in life, every task requires a workflow. The challenge for a lot of operations is in adapting these workflows for different people. People might not think alike by default, or communicate the same way. But people’s brains are adaptable to rules, categories, and a common logic.

For example, we train customer support representatives with rules (e.g., scripts and categories), logic, and values. Those are some methods we use to ensure customers get a consistently good experience.

We can also use these rules, categories, and logic to create intelligent workflows for our technology to make sure each customer gets what they’re looking for, the way they want it. You’re going to want to be familiar with these terms before we move forward:

  • In TaskRouter, “Tasks” refers to phone calls, leads, support tickets, and other work items that are distributed to the people and processes that can best handle them.
  • A Workflow defines the rules for distributing Tasks to Workers. A Workflow's configuration matches Tasks into Task Queues, assigns each task's priority, and configures time-based rules for escalating the task. A Workflow can define rules based on skills-based routing to multi-skilled workers, prioritized routing, and many other common task routing models.

Workflow Objects Twilio TaskRouter

You can set rules with TaskRouter to prioritize certain Tasks. For example, if you want to keep wait times to a minimum, you can set a rule that makes sure Tasks that have been waiting for over five minutes get escalated.

As you can see, Tasks can be categorized according to function, and routed to the most relevant people on your team. Tasks can also be customized even further — for example, if someone requests a specific agent (such as one they worked with previously), TaskRouter can route the task to that specific Worker.

TaskRouter in Action

Here’s an example to help you see TaskRouter in action:

Let’s say you run an ice cream company called Unicone Inc. While your store gets a decent amount of foot traffic, the bulk of your orders are made on the phone and require delivery. You and your two full-time ice cream producers (known as “Stormscoopers”) used to take these orders yourselves, until the volume became too high and you decided to expand to another store.

In order to keep receiving your phone orders, you set up a Twilio account with TaskRouter. From your experience with dozens of these phone calls, you create three Workflows: Sales for taking and accepting orders, Catering for taking and accepting bulk orders, and Support for tracking orders and other inquiries.

Unicone Inc.’s business thrives because of the amount of return customers and word-of-mouth marketing. You know that making the phone process technical might alienate some people who like dealing with a person directly, so you make sure all Tasks routed in the Catering and Support tracks can speak to someone from your team at any moment.

You set a rule to make sure that if the caller is on hold for more than two minutes, the call gets routed directly to your phone number. Moreover, if the caller mentions your name, they’ll get routed directly to your cell phone. As these calls grow in volume, you can delegate them to the manager you hire — but for now, you take them on yourself to ensure a smooth transition and to let customers know that you’re still very much involved in the ice cream process.

Sometimes, callers ask for specific types or combinations of flavors — when they mention “flavors,” they get routed to one of your Stormscoopers. And, in order to keep the call experience fun and curious, you create a secret menu that only your regulars and their friends know how to access.

While Unicone Inc. is just a figment of our imagination (for now), it clearly illustrates how TaskRouter’s functions can be applied to a real brick-and-mortar food service retailer. However, TaskRouter’s true power shows at scale — where TaskRouter can do the work of a full-time team with the same, or greater, speed and consistency.

Large-Scale Applications

While TaskRouter is useful for automating business processes of all sizes, it really shines with large-scale routing operations. Here are some ways TaskRouter can be applied to enterprises and large companies:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

By far, one of TaskRouter’s most potent applications is integrating with a CRM interface. It can assign support tickets to agents with specific product knowledge and inbound leads to salespeople and managers with relevant experiences and specialized expertise. Here’s a comprehensive example of what one Twilio customer built with TaskRouter:

Lending platform LendUp’s mission is to provide anyone with a path to better financial health. Prior to discovering TaskRouter, LendUp was already building an internal tool to manage calls more effectively. When implementing TaskRouter, their team wanted to intelligently route customers’ calls to different specialists by ascribing attributes.

For example, if a customer needed to fill out an application over the phone, that call should go to an agent with experience in sales and onboarding new customers. A service queue should go to an agent with support and product expertise. Prioritized customer calls should go to a manager with decision-making power and experience with high-pressure situations and customer retention. Using TaskRouter, LendUp can write their own call routing logic, and let TaskRouter do the heavy lifting.

“TaskRouter satisfied 100% of our needs,” says Joseph Moniz, Software Engineer at LendUp. “This was the fastest development timeline I’ve ever had.” Moniz and the LendUp team spent about a week on development work, and then put their Twilio-powered contact center solution through to testing and production.

“Using a system we built ourself, powered by TaskRouter, has enabled us to build a lot of operational efficiency,” says Moniz. With TaskRouter firmly in place at LendUp, they can spend less time manually directing calls, and more time directing their customers to better credit.

This type of rapid prototyping enables you to update your contact center, and your IVRs, as frequently as you update your website. And while TaskRouter is already extremely useful as an ACD, it becomes exponentially more powerful when leveraging Twilio’s messaging and reporting capabilities.

Workforce Management (WFM)

The workforce is evolving to respond to real-time demands. Online workforce management platform Deputy uses Twilio to handle millions of shifts across 70 countries.

For example, Deputy customer Queensland Railroad used to spend hours trying to find the right train repair technicians. Now, by employing Twilio’s two-way SMS, they merely send a push notification to everyone who qualifies, reducing the time to seconds.

Having integrated hundreds of complex applications and services within the Deputy platforms, Deputy’s CEO, CTO, and co-founder Ashik Ahmed says they haven’t all been easy to integrate. “For many companies, their API is an afterthought resulting in API fragmentation, unorthodox authentication layers, and proprietary formats. We’ve been quite fortunate that Twilio isn't one of those companies.”

In addition, Twilio and TaskRouter now work with new add-ons for analytics and workforce management. Have a look at:

Teleopti Workforce Management app for Twilio: Teleopti focuses on helping contact centers, back offices, and retail stores improve customer service, employee satisfaction, and profitability through optimized, automated forecasting and scheduling with cutting-edge features to empower and engage employees.

Verint Workforce Management app for Twilio: Verint Workforce Management enables organizations to plan, forecast, and schedule employees by leveraging a unified, enterprise workforce management solution. It provides holistic visibility into the work, people, and processes across customer touch points.

Reporting

No call center is complete without reporting and metrics. Whether it’s understanding agent experiences, optimizing customer service representatives’ performance, or forecasting traffic and customer support demands, reporting is crucial to the call center operation.

The famous adage attributed to Lord Kelvin, “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it,” hammers home the importance of reporting and measurement. While reporting has become a clear priority today, a lot of companies stuck on archaic hardware or software don’t have the ability to easily measure their progress.

Twilio has a set of partners who can provide out-of-the-box dashboards and reports, but companies can also build these in-house using the data and tools Twilio makes available. You can see a full list of reports available in Twilio.

Twilio customer SeniorHomes.com helps seniors find assisted living, independent living, or memory care facilities through its online database and call center. When the company outgrew its hosted call center provider and needed more sophisticated reporting features, SeniorHomes.com evaluated over a dozen vendors. It also sought better reporting capabilities and integration with its custom-built CRM system. SeniorHomes.com ended up choosing to upgrade to a custom-built solution on Twilio’s platform.

Since making the switch to Twilio, SeniorHomes.com has seen a big boost in productivity. Detailed reports that were unavailable from their previous provider have helped the company better serve the clinics and care facilities that pay for advertising on its website. “One report that has been particularly critical to our growth allows us to track sales,” said SeniorHomes.com CEO Chris Rodde. “Since we began using it, we’ve doubled our upsell rate.” Simply making reports available to agents so that they can gain insight into their own productivity has improved performance. Meanwhile, capabilities like call recording and monitoring ensure the quality of customer interaction stays high.”

The Future of the Contact Center

Twilio’s TaskRouter is the heart of a contact center. Combined with Twilio’s messaging and reporting capabilities, TaskRouter will serve as the fundamental tool that enables your team to provide incredible customer experiences with as little administrative and manual work as possible.

In addition to its simple and powerful routing capabilities, TaskRouter can use bots to detect intent sentiment. That means TaskRouter can leverage the power of artificial intelligence to understand the emotions in the caller, and route the call accordingly. For example, if TaskRouter sees from the CRM that a caller has called three times in the past week and detects frustration levels increasing, it can prioritize the call in the Support workflow ahead of others. Alternatively, if it detects excitement or urgency in a caller’s voice and diction, it might route the call to a Sales workflow.

Eventually, TaskRouter will also be able to listen for clues into the customer’s personality type. As the Harvard Business Review reports, a UK-based mortgage company reduced repeat calls by a remarkable 40% simply by teaching their team to tailor responses to different personalities.

Make sure your company excels at your core business. Let Twilio and TaskRouter route your calls so your customer support team can get away from the administrative work and back to what’s most important — creating great customer experiences.