“Communication works for those who work at it”. This quote has a beneficial impact if businesses start taking communication seriously between their processes and departments. Undoubtedly, Communication is an important part of all business relationships from inter-department to external communication to the relationship between customers and service providers or any other similar business entities. Software development companies are routinely challenged to automate processes for their customers and reduce human efforts in all fields. So what if we add a tinge of automation in communication as well?
Twilio is a powerful application that enables the business to enhance communication by embedding VoIP and other internet-based messaging systems into the web, desktop and mobile apps. Twilio has covered the most complex part of preparing a framework and now it provides simple APIs, interface and console to build applications easily using technologies like Microsoft .NET, Java and PHP. It provides powerful APIs for voice and SMS or Whatsapp communication. Its Autopilot mode helps businesses to configure automated or programed (Bots). Twilio Flex is a platform that gives business complete control with customer engagements and helps them provide an interactive and user-friendly customer experience.
As Twilio is becoming popular in the development technologies, the software companies are looking for skilled Twilio developers to collaborate with. Twilio is also releasing new features regularly to upgrade itself which makes it the most preferred choice for communication automation. Let’s start to learn about Twilio and understand how it practically makes the development easy.
What is Twilio and its important features?
To fulfill the requirements of the business, let’s go through some of the cutting-edge features provided by Twilio. Mainly, we will be using three features namely Twilio Studio, Twilio Auto-pilot, and Twilio Task Router.
Twilio Studio is a visual application builder that is used to develop and manage communication workflows. It allows software developers to drag and drop widgets for creating media for communication like voice, messaging, etc. by offering multiple functionalities to rescue businesses from high-order tasks. It can be used for other purposes as well as survey tools, order notifications, SMS-enabled Chabot, etc.
Twilio Studio is designed specifically for cross-functional teams, but it also provides a common framework for everyone to work as per their needs. By this functionality, any member of the team can use the Twilio studio feature to complete their modifications and enhance communication.
Features provided by Twilio Studio:
- Workflow Creation, Modification, and Deployment
- Import and Export of workflows
- Add and Remove Transitions
- Using the Inspector Panel Manage Widget Settings
- Boost Workflow by Inbound SMS, Inbound Voice Calls, and Webhooks
- Define Transitions to add Advanced features for Users through workflows
- Creation and Passing of new Variables
- Individual view of workflow Execution
- Structurally organize Use Cases and their Logic in Separate workflows
Now that you know all the essential features, you can start using Studio by logging in or visiting the Studio homepage in the Twilio console section.
Autopilot is a conversational AI platform powered by Twilio to build, train, and deploy artificially intelligent Chatbots, Conversational IVRs, and Alexa skills using NLP natural language understanding and machine learning. Software developers can integrate Autopilot in their custom applications to provide better support and feedback systems for end-users.
Features provided by Autopilot:
- Defined Organic Conversations
It offers an easy to use functionality that manages Task-driven conversations which can be designed, built, and trained as per user requirements. These annotations can be used later in answering automated questions, intentional routing or automated data collection.
- Platform independent
It can be deployed as a conversational IVR on a particular phone number, as a web-chat, as a Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, as a Chatbot using SMS, as Google assistant, and as an Alexa skill.
- Delegate to human agents
Periodically the contextual hand-off to agents can be made based on the need such as when it is necessary to handoff the Programmable Voice or any messaging channel to Flex from your contact center.
- Learn from real conversations
Its assistant learning can be improved with real-time analytics and conversations.
You can check official documentation of the Twilio Autopilot here on their official page: https://www.Twilio.com/docs/autopilot
Twilio Task Router
Twilio Task Router is an efficient platform used to build a high-performing routing system which can be controlled using a code. Its unique features offer flexible routing to manage the tasks of workers while simultaneously maintaining all the delegation and fall-back rules. It can also track workers’ status and list all the tasks in the system that can be used for monitoring the performance of the system and setting you free to provide an intuitive and delightful Customer experience.
Example of modern Twilio application
For a better understanding of how Twilio workflows function and how tasks are routed using the autopilot feature, we have prepared a sample application. For a clearer picture, our developed sample application will elaborate on the understanding of how these features of autopilot work in real life.
We have created a basic Appointment Booking System using Twilio which will take input from users and provide the best solution for that input. We will be setting a function of a specified number in the workflow using Twilio which will be assigned to the final workflow of the booked appointment.
Here is the brief of the process:
- The user can call on the numbers for fixing appointments.
- When a user calls on that number, they will first hear a welcoming message.
- After the welcome message, there will be options provided to book appointments, to list details of the appointment, cancel appointments, and to call the agents.
- When the user selects options to book appointments, they will be asked for the date and time of the appointment. Once the user provides all this information, the appointment will be confirmed.
- When the user selects this option for appointment information, the IVR will provide all the necessary information needed about the booked appointment.
- When the user selects an option to cancel the appointment, the booked appointment can be easily canceled using this app.
- If the user wishes to talk to any agent and chooses an option to talk to an agent, then there will be an incoming call routed to the worker in a queue, where the task will be assigned to the available workers.
Here in this application, all the processes are performed by Twilio features like Twilio studio flow, Twilio autopilot, Twilio task router so it reduces human workload. Also, as it contains less human interaction there will be fewer man-made errors.
Step by step process of Preparing a Twilio Application
To create this sample application, we’ll need a few basic elements to be ready.
- Twilio phone number
- Twilio autopilot
- Twilio task router
- Twilio studio flow
Twilio Phone number
In your Twilio account, buy a new phone number by clicking on the Plus icon (+) highlighted in the below image.
To create an autopilot, click on the Autopilot link from the Twilio sidebar menu. Autopilot dashboard will be enabled for you to use.
To create a blank Bot, click on the Start from the scratch button.
Enter the name & description of your Bot and save. This will create a new Bot with some initial predefined tasks. Your new Bot will look like the below image.
Here you can create new tasks & train them according to your requirement. For our appointment booking application, we have created these new tasks book_appointments, change_appointments, cancel_appointments, complete_booking.
Now we have to train all tasks with sample messages to recognize user speech & then program them to perform an action accordingly. You will see all the trained tasks & their programs in the following images.
Here we don’t need any sample messages as we’ll be calling this action from another autopilot task only.
Now the autopilot creation process is completed.
Twilio Task router
- Go to Task Router
- Go to Workspaces and Click on (+) to create a workspace.
- Set Workspace name and save.
- After creating a new workspace, go back to the workspace list and click on the workspace you’ve just created. In this newly created workspace, click on TaskQueues and add a new taskqueue by clicking on the (+) sign.
- Set TaskQueue properties as shown in the image below and save.
- After creating a Taskqueue, go to the Workflows. Add workflow by clicking (+).
- Set Workflow name and properties.
- Now on this screen, go to the Edit option within the UI tab and Add Filter. Here set filter name and matching tasks expression. Routing Steps-> Select Taskqueue and set required properties.
- Click on the Create button.
- Go to Workers and click on (+) to add new workers.
- Add Worker details and then save the details.
When a user opts for talking to an agent from the application, Studio flow transfers control to task router workflow which is further transferred to task queues & tasks will remain in the queue until any other worker is available. As soon as the worker is available, the call will be forwarded to that worker.
Twilio studio flow
- Go to Studio
- Click on (+) to create a new Studio flow.
- Set your Studio flow name here.
- Add the required widget from the widget library.
- Say/Play widget for play message to the caller.
- Gather Input on call for caller input by pressing a key.
- Split Option to check caller input and send the call to the next point in the flow.
- Autopilot to forward callers to autopilot targeted tasks as per caller input.
- Set autopilot properties.
- Enqueue Call Option forwards all the Calls to the Support Executive helpline queue.
- Set Enqueue properties.
- Join all the widgets in order as per flow.
- Click on Publish to save the workflow.
In this fast-paced technology world, what makes tasks easier is Twilio. It is a compelling tool with power-paced features and functionalities that have made the development of communication-based software simpler and effortless. By using Twilio, application development has become rapid and seamless. Twilio allows customization and flexibility at each level of development and thus you can build all types of custom software solutions as you imagine. Here are some of the exciting features of Twilio:
- Voice and texting APIs
- Call queues
- Twilio Flex
- CRM Integration – Customizable UI
We hope you found this article insightful as we have tried to cover all the aspects of development using Twilio and have seen how simple it is to develop an appointment booking application with Twilio. I hope now you can turn your ideas to reality by using these steps to build the same software using Twilio or any other similar APIs that would have taken months to develop if you weren’t introduced to Twilio.
Vishal Shah has an extensive understanding of multiple application development frameworks and holds an upper hand with newer trends in order to strive and thrive in the dynamic market. He has nurtured his managerial growth in both technical and business aspects and gives his expertise through his blog posts.
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