Twilio’s Proxy API Lets Mobile Workers Safely Communicate With Customers

Twilio on Wednesday unveiled its latest API, one that allows developers to facilitate mobile-based conversations between customers and business employees. Called Twilio Proxy, this tool is part of the newly-formed Engagement Cloud, a suite of declarative APIs that provide multi-channel communications with customers.

“The success of on-demand marketplaces has created a new standard in how delivery people, hosts, drivers, tutors and other mobile workers use their own devices to engage directly with consumers,” the company explained in a press release. What Twilio appears to have done is make available a feature that have been incorporated into services like Uber, Postmates, Lyft, and Airbnb — allowing providers (e.g. host, driver, courier) can communicate with customers safely while maintaining the privacy of each party’s phone number, but at scale.

As is typical with Twilio, developers need only apply a “few lines of code”. The Proxy API will manage the real-time phone number provisioning, time-bundled routing of calls and even texts between all parties, content moderation, and logging the conversations for security purposes.

Other features include:

  • Multi-channel masked communications: It doesn’t matter how the two parties are communicating, whether it’s through phone, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Slack, WeChat, Twitter, Viber, Line, BlackBerry Messenger, HipChat, or Kik — Twilio Proxy can record them all and mask them.
  • Phone number management: Personal phone numbers and user IDs are kept confidential, and Proxy will provide the appropriate numbers to be used, choosing ones that are nearest to the parties, geographically speaking.
  • Content moderation: Since communication can also be text-based, Twilio provides tools to filter and redact messages that are hateful, violent, or just downright offensive.
  • Time-bounded sessions: Developers can manage the amount of time a worker spends with a customer, even accounting for shift-based employees.

The launch of this API will certainly help any business that has a mobile workforce, whether it’s someone with a delivery service, food truck, or even a support team such as Best Buy, Sears, Enjoy, and others. It’s noteworthy that by bringing this to the general public now, Twilio Proxy might be perceived as being a course correction for the company, especially after a less than stellar quarterly earnings this month when it warned about the decrease in usage by its largest customer: Uber.

It also happens to be the most recent tool announced by Twilio this week during its annual SIGNAL conference. On Tuesday, the company launched a Verification SDK that gives developers a new way to verify phone numbers using Google’s new API.

As mentioned earlier, Twilio Proxy is part of the company’s Engagement Cloud, a package that’s similar to what you’d expect from Salesforce. Along with Proxy, Twilio has included a bevy of tools to help developers conduct outreach to their customers: Twilio Notify, which handles automated notifications across messaging channels; Twilio TaskRouter, which is designed to create smarter call centers; and Twilio Two-Factor Authentication service.

“Developers are increasingly relied on to help create the best possible experience for customers. As the demands on a developer’s time grows, one of our goals is to build new APIs that free up developers to focus on the more creative aspects of coding,” explained Twilio chief executive Jeff Lawson. “The Twilio Engagement Cloud and its Declarative APIs are built to help developers spend less time reinventing the wheel.”


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