A key figure behind a new cloud communications platform has warned enterprises of the danger of failing to keep up with consumers’ growing expectations.

Al Cook is head of contact centre business at San Francisco tech giant Twilio, which today launches its Flex ‘programmable contact centre’ platform.

Customers these days can speak with businesses over so many channels – from email and SMS to WhatsApp and Skype, video, voice and messaging – that they are no longer willing to remain on hold and jump through hoops before speaking to the person who can satisfy their request.

“What we've found in the last few years is that consumers' expectations have changed as they use better and better tools in their own lives,” Englishman Cook told BusinessCloud.

“They demand more and need more – and enterprises are struggling to keep up and deliver that kind of experience – both in terms of the number of channels they support and how they inform their agents [of a customer’s prior communications].

“If companies don't take this seriously, they will lose market share – that is a macro trend that is happening across the globe.”

Research by Twilio suggests that eight out of ten consumers find it difficult to communicate with businesses today.

Flex allows companies to instantly deploy an omnichannel contact centre platform but also customise every element, from the interface to communication channels, reporting and how customers are routed through the system.

Twilio

 Its dynamic speech recognition, for example, can listen to customers in a phone menu and move them through to the most appropriate person based on needs and sentiment.

It also places details of all prior communication with the customer at the fingertips of the contact centre agents.

Twilio

“It's a potential moment for delighting someone that you wouldn't otherwise get,” said Cook.

“Imagine calling your bank and it said 'you logged in online and conducted a search for mortgage applications, so you've been routed directly to me because I'm a mortgage advisor – I'd be happy to talk you through our available products'.

“That's a fundamentally different experience to asking ‘what is your National Insurance number, what is your mother's maiden name, and what do you want?’”

Twilio infrastructure supports hundreds of thousands of contact centre agents and handles nearly 40 billion interactions a year across verticals such as finance, retail, insurance and airlines.

“ING Bank has been a Twilio customer for some time,” said Cook. “We allowed them to support new channels including video. You no longer have to go into a branch to open an account with them as they can verify your identity over a video call.

“That fundamentally changed the way they can onboard their customers.”

Cook, 35, left the UK 13 years ago and has worked for several tech companies in the contact centre space.

He leads Twilio’s contact centre team across product design and engineering, which employs staff in both San Francisco and London.

“The thing I like about being out here is the energy and the drive to make changes and to think about things in different ways,” he said. 

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