Twilio launches Flex Conversations, a unified chat API for contact centers

Twilio today announced a new API for its Flex contact center service that combines the platform’s existing chat channels under a single umbrella to make it easier for developers to build contact center applications that are less frustrating for end users.

While a lot of contact centers today use all of these channels, their data tends to sit in siloed applications, which in turn means that customers have to repeat their information to every agent they talk to. The new Flex Conversations API combines SMS, chat and WhatsApp on Flex into a single API. It’ll roll out as a public beta by the end of the month.

“Before Flex Conversations, developers had to work with individual channel APIs (voice, chat, WhatsApp, Messenger, SMS, etc.) to implement and manage channels embedded within Flex,” said Simonetta Turek, the GM of Flex, who joined the company in late 2020 after a stint at AWS. “To be clear, all these channels have been available on Twilio Flex, it just took a bit more time to configure them. Consistent with our aim to make the building process incrementally easier and within reach of a wider variety of personas, Flex Conversations simplifies the build process by requiring only a single API for all of the digital channels. This means one set of documentation and a single build motion to invoke and manage any number of digital channels. The result is faster deployments and iterations post-deployment.”

She noted that this will also make it easier for development teams to add additional channels to their contact center based on customer demand and that this new solution will also enable new personalization scenarios across these channels.

“Add to this the new digital channel orchestration capabilities such as group messaging and persistent threads, existing use cases can achieve higher levels of differentiation — all in the service of delivering a better customer experience,” she said. This means you could start a conversation in Chat and then move to SMS, for example. The agents will ideally see this as a single thread, no matter the channel.

Because all of the chat channels are now under one umbrella and part of a persistent thread that agents can have access to, developers can now create experiences where you won’t have to repeat your name and issue number every single time you are transferred between channels or agents.

Twilio also today noted that it plans to add new channels to Flex in the future, including Facebook Messenger and Google Business Messages.