Citizens Advice Manchester provides free, confidential, impartial, and independent advice to people who need it. We want to make it as frictionless as possible to access our service. The easier it is to use it the sooner people will choose it. At the same time people are so used to communicating with family and friends across different apps and devices that they expect to be able to connect with organisations just as easily. Our advisors have ended up using telephone plus SMS plus Webchat plus Facebook Messenger in order to provide advice. As one can imagine this was not a great experience for our teams, jumping from one system to another. Coronavirus then meant we had to stop our face-to-face service, which increased demand across all these different channels. This made the issue worse and led us to look at a more effective way to manage these multiple inbound communication channels.
We wanted to have a single platform for advisors to access advice enquiries across all the channels. The solution we chose was Twilio, the cloud communications platform. As a charity, we qualified for their Twilio.org program for non-profits plus a $500 kickstarter. Twilio were great. We had several calls with them offering help and advice about best practice. Working with a developer we were able to get an inbound contact centre live in two weeks using their Twilio Flex product. This enabled us to manage voice, SMS and Facebook Messenger in one place.
A few weeks later we were able to add WhatsApp to the platform. This option is already proving to be an incredibly popular way to access our advice services. Like Messenger it is an asynchronous channel, which means that a client can send a message out of hours and a team member can pick it up when they are next available. WhatsApp has the added advantage of end-to-end encryption - having the ability to securely share documents is really useful.
By using Twilio and adopting this new ‘omnichannel’ approach we have seen multiple benefits:
When linked to our CRM (customer relationship management system) this technology will allow our clients to switch seamlessly between these channels, from Voice to SMS or WhatsApp, without having them repeat their story multiple times.
The platform's flexibility has provided us with an exciting roadmap of features and improvements we want to add. Its modular approach also means it will be easy to add new channels in the future if we see a rise in demand, or new popular trends emerge.
Find out how we helped introduce this new platform to our staff, in our Service Recipe by The Catalyst.