How Oxfam accelerated its digital transformation with Twilio Flex

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Oxfam is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. It works across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.

Aiming for lasting solutions, it fights the inequalities that keep people locked in poverty and injustice, Oxfam tackles not the symptoms but the systems, and campaigns for genuine, durable change.

With a team of volunteers, aid workers, and supporter relations workers, Oxfam operates critical endeavors alongside an online store and just under 600 brick-and-mortar storefronts across the United Kingdom, selling volunteer-listed, secondhand items and fair-trade, ethical gifts.

The combination of internal operations, volunteer recruitment and management, retail storefront support, and dozens of other areas call for a robust yet flexible communication solution that can deploy anywhere without sacrificing responsiveness or capabilities. Seeking a flexible platform that could scale with the organization, Oxfam GB turned to Twilio.

The challenge: Outgrown legacy hardware

Before implementing Twilio, Oxfam GB faced communication-related challenges on multiple fronts—but perhaps the most prominent were the limitations of their legacy communication system.

“We used a traditional call center on ISDN30 with a PBX and call recording software. It was a hardware solution that costs money to maintain and support, it was going out of date, and it was fixed in one location,” explains Aidan Mahony, Technology Business Partner at Oxfam GB.

With fixed hardware powering such a core aspect of operations, the team was unable to respond to the requirements of the organization. Integrating functionality and deploying rapidly to support flexible working became more and more difficult. During the same time, the U.K. also announced its plan to shut down phone landlines, including ISDN, by 2025.

The writing was on the wall for Oxfam GB. Relying on call center hardware for communications and support limited the organization’s ability to effectively respond to the needs of volunteer networks, shops, and even their internal operations. It was time to move to a cloud solution that could support the expected—and unexpected—challenges of humanitarian work.

To establish a more effective communications system, Oxfam GB deployed Twilio Flex across the organization. As a fully customizable contact center, Twilio Flex has the ability to connect users across different departments seamlessly, centralize support calls, and integrate with their Salesforce solutions.

The result is a flexible and reliable call center that can handle the variety of individuals that Oxfam GB engages daily. Oxfam GB volunteers use Twilio Flex to operate registers in one of the brick-and-mortar storefronts and to manage the online shop when working from home. All of Oxfam GB’s shopworkers run transactions, take phone calls, respond to customer tickets, and keep the day-to-day operations of the stores running smoothly.

“Twilio doesn’t have the baggage of traditional telecommunications solutions,” Aidan said. “The ease of use, flexibility, and integrations help us strategically reach our goals of becoming a digital-first organization.”

“Twilio doesn’t have the baggage of traditional telecommunications solutions. The ease of use, flexibility, and integrations help us strategically reach our goals of becoming a digital-first organization.”

Aidan Mahony Technology Business Partner

A promising future

Looking forward, Oxfam GB aims to continue growing their suite of digital tools. Twilio’s integration with ServiceNow could help Oxfam GB create a notification system to respond quickly to issues, outages, and incident alerts, and to deploy speedy on-call scheduling.

Most importantly, according to Aidan, the switch to Twilio Flex has been seamless. Remote workers are still able to participate, volunteer and donation efforts are moving forward, and, on the back end, Oxfam GB has greatly streamlined their handling of support and volunteer calls. They are currently on course to phase out 80% of their out-of-date Head Office infrastructure for an overall savings of roughly 75% of their original expenditures.

Oxfam GB will continue to focus on their digital transformation to become a flexible, agile organization. Twilio Flex has helped Oxfam GB teams work from anywhere, respond to calls for aid more quickly, and shed the weight of fixed hardware.

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