3 min read5 February 2020
Liv Denyer explains how and why we built a phone system from scratch.5 February 2020
We’ve all got horror stories about terrible customer service we’ve received. How many times have you spent ages waiting to get through to someone, only to get through to the wrong person? Or had to chase up a company relentlessly to get your problem resolved? We’re of the opinion that a lot of businesses get this wrong. And we want iwoca to be better.
So a little over two years ago, we formed a tech team dedicated to improving the ways in which we connect with our customers. Our goal has been to ensure our customer facing teams can take iwoca’s growth in their stride - without sacrificing the relationship we have with our customers.
We’d been using an external service for a while, but it wasn’t quite doing everything we wanted. It was difficult to use and maintain and impossible to get any meaningful data about our calls. So we decided to change it.
We came up with some key requirements for a new phone system:
Not only would this improve the customer’s experience, but it would also make a lot of the Customer Success team’s job easier and more efficient. We wouldn’t need to spend time redirecting calls or ask a load of questions to find a customer’s account, so we’d help more customers and faster.
Our crack team of telecoms experts (I worked in a call centre for a few months, and our lead developer calls his mother every week) set out to find a solution. We were hoping for a service we could buy and easily integrate with our internal systems - to be able to understand who we should route a call to, it was clear we needed to be able to figure out which of our customers was calling.
Every time we looked at an external solution, we came across the same problem: they weren’t built with the customer in mind. All of them were built to allow a call centre to handle a huge amount of traffic in an efficient way - at the customer’s expense. Think built in call queues and robots answering the phone and asking you to figure out who you need to speak to by pressing some buttons.
But we didn’t want to introduce call queues. Or let customers get stuck talking to a robot who doesn’t understand them. We wanted to make sure they got through to a real human who can help them, in 30 seconds.
We opted to use Twilio’s API, whose online documentation helped end nightmares of poor phone systems with massive price tags. It took nine months of building, testing, and evolving until we were able to roll out something that would handle our inbound calls. To do this, we built:
Now when you call iwoca, the following happens:
We’re really proud of what we’ve built: we now have a phone system that provides the customer experience we dreamed of. Without any robots.
Liv’s a Senior Product Manager at iwoca, working on iwocaPay, our new invoice finance product. Before that, she led the team that built iwoca's CRM system from scratch. If she gets a break from all of that, Liv moonlights as iwoca’s Poet Laureate, or you might find her rock climbing in south London.
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