Sometimes, the best ideas strike when you least expect them. That’s what happened back in 2015 when Marcin Ziółkowski, CTO of Swedish fintech innovation company Northmill, attended a demo at a developer conference in Poland.
The presenter showed how he could make a call to his browser from his smartphone, using just a few lines of Twilio code. This sparked Ziółkowski imagination: How could Twilio improve the way Northmill handles customer calls?
“I called up our CEO and said ‘This is so cool—we have to do this,’” says Ziółkowski. “While we were evaluating other dialing systems…we could do much more with Twilio’s API.”
Ziółkowski’s instincts proved right. Switching to Twilio has had a big impact on Northmill, with call center agent productivity increasing by 50%. And when your company mission is to simplify everyone’s financial lives, this matters.
Before using Twilio, Northmill handled calls via a system that wasn’t integrated with their CRM and involved multiple softphones. When a customer called Northmill, agents had to look up different directories to find data on previous conversations. A lot of wasted time, a lot of frustrated agents.
The lack of data also made it harder to predict spikes in call volume. At times, Northmill had more agents than calls or—on occasion—not enough agents to handle higher call numbers.
Because voice contact is critically important to the Northmill customer experience, this was a problem that needed solving.
“We aim to provide services where customers can reach us by any means, especially mobile phones and phone calls,” says Ville Kymalainen, Northmill’s Finland Country Manager. “It’s really important for us to be able to be there for the customer, not just by having a chat function…If you want to reach an actual person, we’re there for you.”
Northmill looked again for a ready-made phone solution, but found none that could integrate with their custom-built CRM properly. With Twilio still fresh in their minds, the team agreed that if they couldn’t can’t buy the right system, they should build it.
“Developers are very creative people,” explains Ziółkowski. “They want a white canvas…so that they can build whatever they want, where creative people can build great things.”
It only took the Northmill team a couple of days to get a working prototype up and running, according to Ziółkowski. “We built some simple dial keypads, just very simple API calls to handle any outbound phone call. We’re up and running after three or four days with some custom-made HTML...and then we actually designed a whole system and it took couple of months to build and test the whole thing.”
Northmill integrated Twilio APIs to create a new telephony workflow. When a customer calls in, the call is routed to Northmill via the Twilio API, which makes a request from Northmill customer agent platform.
“The system knows whether credit controllers are busy or not,” says Ziółkowski. “If we have an available agent then we route the call to the web browser...If all agents are busy, the system requests that the call is added to a queue because there is nobody available.”
Moving to Twilio had an immediate impact on customer service agents. “Compared to the old system, I can talk to and handle probably a hundred customers more, because of the speed of Twilio,” says Anna-Maria Wiker, Senior Credit Controller. “We used to have to ask the customers all these questions and then open up the information on a different page... and now with one click we can get all the information that we have for that specific customer throughout the whole history that she or he has with our company.”
With Twilio, the agents really felt that we did something beautiful. We were able to integrate the phone system into our CRM. It really makes our agents more efficient, and that makes them feel happier, and of course our customers can feel that as well.
The switch to Twilio from a black box system brought almost immediate benefits to Northmill. Agents are now able to connect with up to 100 more customers per person per day.
“Because with Twilio we can identify our customers immediately, our agent productivity has increased up to 50%,” says Joonas Haapoja, Product Manager, Finland. “Now with Twilio, we are able to service our customers much faster on the phone, which means we can be more efficient, as well as saving our customers time.”
While the initial integration between Northmill and Twilio was built for deployment in Finland, it’s already being rolled out to cover Swedish operations as well. This ability to easily scale across territories is critical to Northmill’s future plans.
“The growth plans we have for the company, mean that it’s really crucial for us to work with scalable technology,” says Kymalainen. “Market entrance with our new flagship product rebilla.com won’t be easy if we need to reinvent everything again. That’s why we need reliable technology service providers such as Twilio.”
And it all started with a chance discovery at a developer conference.