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Respond, Adapt, Thrive!


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I’m more than ready to admit it. 2020 has been a tough year. Most of us spent March and April just trying to cope with the change and uncertainty swirling around us. With people working from home and schools gone virtual, just getting through the day was a challenge.

Six months later, things have calmed down. First, we met the initial challenges thrown at us by the pandemic, both personally and professionally. Then we began to adapt. Things aren’t “back-to-normal,” but we’ve successfully established a new pattern for life and work.

As highlighted in a fireside chat webinar I participated in with Amy Roberge Coleman, Director, Contact Center Sales Engineering, and Lenore Files, Product Marketing Manager, both of Twilio, it feels like it’s time to do more than simply get by. Over the course of the hour, we discussed how the pandemic forced organizations to respond quickly, but in doing so, often laid the foundation for additional changes that improve both customer experience and operational efficiency.

Webinar screen capture

Respond and Adapt: Local Government
One of the great customer examples that Roberge Coleman discussed in the webinar was the Twilio Contact Tracing application deployment by a local government, which prefers to remain anonymous (so you might not hear about it in the webinar replay). In less than 30 days, Twilio worked with the local government's IT group to deploy Twilio Flex with voice and SMS for contact tracing. The application made it possible for the jurisdiction to connect to and support residents with COVID-19 in order to safely reopen the economy while keeping citizen known contact information safe and secure.

COVID-19 continues to deliver challenges to local governments every day. All over the country, school districts are having to make decisions about delaying the opening of public schools or closing those that have already opened. To the extent school opening includes the need to communicate with residents, parents, teachers, etc., Twilio's local government customer has a new tool – Twilio Flex – to help meet those challenges. In fact, more than 28 cities, states, and universities have selected Twilio to power their contact tracing initiatives.

Respond and Thrive: QVC
When the shelter-in-place orders were being declared in country after country in early March, many companies had faced a tough decision. They could continue to invest in their on-premises contact centers systems, which typically would involve obtaining remote agent licenses, provisioning virtual private network (VPN) services for every agent, sending them home with hardware, etc. Or, they could make an immediate decision to move to the cloud. QVC in Italy was one of many companies that made a cloud decision, choosing Twilio Flex. In five days, they were up and running with hundreds of agents at home.

As Roberge explained during the webinar, instead of choosing to respond, i.e., replacing their voice call center with voice in the cloud, QVC saw the transition to cloud as an opportunity to also adapt to better support the needs of their consumers. In addition to voice interactions, QVC Italy customers can now interact with agents using SMS and WhatsApp.

While one often hears about the difficulty of encouraging consumers to move to digital channels, QVC Italy experienced no such problem. “By April 2020, within the first month of rolling out these new channels, the team was seeing more than 7,000 SMS messages and 42,000 WhatsApp messages monthly,” reported Roberge Coleman. “It really shows the need and the desire that consumers had to interact with this business in a different way.”

Net-New or Augmentation
These two case studies highlight another attribute of Twilio Flex – that companies can use it to replace an existing contact center solution completely or to augment the current contact center operation. QVC Italy decided that their best course of action was to replace a legacy contact center solution completely. The local government, supporting thousands of agents’ seats in different departments, decided to augment those operations with an application-specific deployment of Twilio Flex for contact tracing.

No matter what you currently need, consider Twilio Flex as you look to address your customer engagement challenges in 2020 and beyond.

Editor's note: This piece has been edited from its original posting.