Cloud

Your way, right away: The future of business apps

This sponsored post is produced by Twilio.

Burger King: Your Way, Right Away. We’ve all heard that slogan.  The notion is, you don’t just get a boring old burger off the assembly line (ahem, McDonald’s), you get your order customized, built for your needs, to fully satisfy your meat lust. Sounds great!

Why isn’t our enterprise software like that? The IT landscape is full of vendors selling off-the-shelf solutions that partially meet our needs. Sure, we’re told, you can customize the product with professional services that will likely double or triple the total cost of the solution.

That’s how traditional telephony works.  When a company looks to uplevel its customer communications, a vendor quotes long time lines and big bills. Oh, you want that actually customized for your business? Well, we can’t tell you the actual cost until the “burger” is done, but it will be at least $250,000 more.

So why are fast food hamburgers easier to customize than your phone closet?

For years, people have just assumed that phone systems were complex, difficult and hard to adapt. The problem with this assumption is it led to poor communications experiences. Customers got frustrated. Sales productivity stalled. And no one knew how to fix things, much less offer communications solutions built for your needs.

Then the unexpected happened. During the last few years, software began to invade the telecom closet and to vaporize the hardware it found there. Now software running in the cloud conquers complexity and liberates business owners to experiment with more effective forms of communication. It makes it easy to connect with customers over any channel they chose, and it gives unprecedented visibility into sales and customer service organizations.

No one knows this better than Anthony Rodio, whose company, RedBeacon, was bought by Home Depot in January. Rodio doesn’t settle for heat-lamp burgers to feed his communications needs, he cooks them perfectly himself.

I visited Rodio recently and he shared his story. RedBeacon had started out using a “kind of cobbled together” solution for call center telephony.  But once the company got acquired, Rodio saw a chance to change the game.

Rodio wanted to build his vision of a complete customer service experience that would delight customers who use RedBeacon to find home improvement professionals like plumbers, painters and yard workers. Instead of using off-the-shelf components that could fulfill bits and pieces of that vision, Rodio wanted it “his way, right away.”

Five years earlier, while chief operating officer at Support.com, Rodio had built a cutting-edge call center that let 1,000 people work from home. He wanted something that was similarly forward-looking for Home Depot—something that anticipated where the market was heading. Rodio knew that customers were going to demand better communications experiences, and he needed the flexibility to be able to meet those expectations, even as the world went mobile and people started expecting communications solutions to be “their way, right away” as well.

To deliver that satisfaction, Rodio decided to build a best-of-breed customer relationship management solution with built-in communications capabilities and add it to RedBeacon’s app.

“If you believe that your customer is the most important asset your company has, then your interactions with them are the most important thing that you do,” Rodio said. “If I talk to a customer, I want that to be part of my application. I want all the interactions, from the website to a phone call to be one record, so that I can look at how you enjoyed your experience with us. I can see what job request you put in, how many times you spoke with us and how long it took to get what you needed or to resolve a problem.”

Rodio looked at Twilio’s telecommunications API, and decided it gave him the reliability, flexibility and scalability he needed, while saving him the cost of developing the technology himself. “Telephony is not what I need our core competency to be, but it’s critical to what we do,” he said. So the web development team at RedBeacon started building the right customer service experience that spanned their CRM, their public web application, and even the in-store presence. “I was able to realize my vision of the way the contact center operations should work,” Rodio said.

Cloud software with rich web APIs are the movement that enables this new breed of customization.

I love Rodio’s story, because it shows the impact that a doer can have, even in an organization as large as Home Depot. Rodio is serving up great customer experiences—and he’s not alone. Around the world, men and women are imagining better ways to offer communications  “your way, right away” and turning those visions into code.

I can taste the future of communications… and it has extra pickles.

Learn more about how software is transforming business communications and test drive new cloud-based communications technologies in hands-on sessions at TwilioCon, Oct. 16-Oct. 18, at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. www.twilio.com/conference

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