Twilio Review–The Good & Bad

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Twilio lets IT professionals build custom communication apps for contact centers and omnichannel customer engagement. We don’t recommend it unless you have an in-house development team to create and maintain your solution. It can be an excellent choice for businesses that need a truly custom solution for voice and messaging. But it’s not for small businesses or amateur developers.  

How Does Twilio Compare to the Best Call Center Platforms?

Nextiva is our favorite call center platform. It’s the best choice for most people because it’s affordable, easy to use, and features nearly infinite scalability. Its regular phone system is powerful enough to handle a low-volume call center but it also offers a true omni-channel contact center solution for midsize and enterprise businesses.

If you’re looking for strong workforce management features, RingCentral is a strong alternative. It’s a unified communications system and call center platform all under one roof—but it’s more expensive than Nextiva and a more challenging to use.

Twilio is in a category of its own compared to Nextiva, RingCentral, and other communication platforms. It’s designed to build fully custom cloud communications with an omnichannel approach at each stage of the customer journey. It requires in-house development resources to build and maintain, making it more appealing for enterprise-level organizations. 

If you need to embed custom calling capabilities into your web app or want to set up complex engagement triggers that combine email, SMS, and WhatsApp, Twilio has limitless capabilities at any scale.

Nextiva and RingCentral are better options if you don’t want to spend months or even a year building a custom contact center solution.

Check out our reviews of the best call center software to learn more about Twilio alternatives and to see all of our top recommendations.

Brand: The Good and The Bad

Twilio shines for its high level of customization and contract-free billing structure. It’s built for omnichannel communication and delivers reliable uptime with built-in AI capabilities. But Twilio’s product offering is tough to understand, and it requires serious development resources to build and maintain. It’s also sunsetting its video solution—meaning existing customers need to migrate elsewhere for this feature. 

The Good

Highly customizable: Twilio takes a developer-first approach, making it one of the most customizable business communication solutions on the market. It’s unique in the sense that it can really be built to do anything in the broad communications space, which is crucial for solving challenges for enterprise organizations. Let’s look at some real-world examples that showcase the unparallelled customization capabilities from Trilio.

Box uses Twilio to verify user identities via SMS, and Uber uses it to notify riders and drivers of time-sensitive updates. Toyota used Twilio to build an in-vehicle communication system for over six million drivers with a roadside assistance button, stolen vehicle locator, and automated crash detection. Wix built a call center system that handles over 2,000 calls per day that automatically links each call to a support article and then gathers information to detect potential bugs in the platform. Simply put, this is not your average call center.

No contracts: For such an advanced enterprise-grade solution, it’s surprising that Twilio doesn’t lock you into long-term contracts or annual commitments. Instead, they offer pay-as-you-go pricing based on usage. Depending on what Twilio features you’re using, you’ll be billed per active user, per message, per verification, per hour, etc. 

To get the best possible deal, you can make a commitment to meet certain usage thresholds. But that’s not a requirement. Plus, you’ll automatically get discounts triggered for high-volume usage. 

Omnichannel communications: Everything about Twilio is designed to support multi-channel communication and engagement. It’s not just a call center or just a live chat software. It completely integrates and centralizes all of your customer communication channels to a single source of truth. 

Using Twilio’s conversation APIs, your developers can build a system that seamlessly continues a customer conversation that starts through SMS or email and then switches to live chat or WhatsApp. This high level of continuity means customers can always reach you through their preferred contact method, and they won’t have to re-explain themselves if and when they switch channels. 

Reliable uptime and call quality: You won’t have to worry about downtime or unplanned outages when you’re using Twilio to power your call center and communication channels. The platform delivers a 99.995% uptime SLA, which essentially means it’s always up and running. 

Calls are crystal-clear and messages are delivered promptly, regardless of the channels you’re using or how you’re using different APIs. 

Built-in AI and machine learning: With Twilio’s voice intelligence platform, you can turn unstructured voice into valuable data that’s analyzed by AI and fed to a machine learning system. It can be used as a quality assurance tool for your call center agents or something much more advanced—like the ability to predict customer behavior so you can detect and trigger upsell or cross-sell opportunities. 

For compliance purposes, the voice intelligence can automatically redact sensitive information from recordings and transcripts. It’s ultimately a way to just extract more data from your calls automatically, which can be used to make important business decisions and improve the customer experience. 

Partner program for custom projects: If you don’t have in-house development resources but still want to use Twilio, you can browse through companies in Twilio’s partner program to build something for you. This can sometimes add some complexity, as you’re bringing in a third-party to the mix. But it can be really helpful if you find a partner who’s already built something similar to what you need. 

Going this route also widens the potential reach of Twilio’s powerful capabilities. A business that would otherwise find Twilio too advanced or complex can still leverage the platform by partnering with an approved vendor. 

The Bad

Confusing product offerings: Twilio has nearly 20 different products, which all seem to somehow intertwine with each other. When you’re browsing through the platform’s features and capabilities, it’s unclear exactly which products give you the capabilities to solve your problems and build the type of custom communication apps you want. You’ll likely need to consult with a sales rep to truly understand which product comes with the specific features and capabilities your business needs. 

Complicated setup and use: First and foremost, you need internal development resources to use Twilio—and one or two outsourced developers doesn’t count. You really need an entire IT department to use Twilio effectively, and it could still take weeks or even months to build what you need. Other contact center and customer communication platforms may not be as customizable, but you can launch them in less than a few days. 

No video calling: Twilio no longer provides a video calling solution. For businesses that were previously using Twilio for video, Twilio recommends that you migrate to their preferred video partner (Zoom) and the product will no longer be available after December 5, 2024. This can be a pain for any business who spent months building something customized for video, and it’s worrisome that this could happen in the future with another Twilio product. 

Missing team collaboration features: Twilio is not an internal communication tool. You’ll need a separate platform to manage things like team chat, file sharing, and project management. Other far-less complex tools on the market give you more team collaboration tools from the same platform as your conference call software. 

Twilio’s Noteworthy Features

Voice API

Twilio’s voice API lets businesses truly customize a calling experience at scale. You can embed VoIP calling capabilities into a web app or mobile app—all of which give your customer base quick access to sales or support.

The API can be fully customized to support features like answering machine detection, call recordings, speech recognition, secure payments, warm transfers, and so much more. Like everything else offered by Twilio, the capabilities are nearly limitless. 

Twilio offers voice with the power of programmability. Build a scalable voice experience with the Voice API that's connecting millions around the world.

One popular use case for the voice API is for embedded calling on a global scale. Developers can leverage WebRTC-powered capabilities to set up calls that work across iOS, Android, Javascript, web browsers, and essentially all devices. 

Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC)

For large businesses and enterprises that don’t want to worry about number porting or switching providers, you can use all of Trilio’s calling capabilities while keeping your existing carrier. 

You’ll get to continue using all of your existing phone numbers and infrastructure. And if you decide to switch carriers down the road, Twilio can support those changes with minimal downtime. 

Plus, thanks to Twilio’s Super Network, you can continue operating even if your carrier is experiencing an outage. 

Programmable Messaging

Twilio’s programmable messaging API is capable of sending and receiving messages via SMS, MMS, and WhatsApp—at any scale. You can use it to send time-sensitive alters, notifications, or marketing messages to your customers while ensuring high deliverability rates and compliance. 

It’s really versatile, and can be used for a wide range of use cases. Common examples include user verifications, one-time passcodes, emergency alerts, account notifications, delivery notifications, appointment reminders, and lifecycle marketing. 

Twilio offers one messaging API to reliably reach 7b+ devices. Send and receive transactional SMS, MMS, and WhatsApp messages at scale, for less. Customers received $1.4m in net margin benefits over 3 years after switching to Twilio.

So whether you have a financial company that needs to verify a customer’s login on a new device or you have a global retail operation that just wants to send marketing materials, Twilio’s programmable messaging API can handle your needs. 

Drag-and-Drop IVR

While you’ll still need development resources to utilize Twilio, this is one feature that doesn’t require complex coding knowledge. You can use a drag-and-drop builder to fully customize different IVRs for customer self-service. 

It’s a visual workflow builder that’s powered on top of Twilio’s serverless architecture. What’s really cool about it is that you can customize the IVR to work across multiple channels—meaning it’s not just a standard IVR that provides basic menu options for incoming calls. 

Twilio's drag-and-drop rules-based automation builder

You can set up different triggers based on how, when, and why a customer is reaching out to you. The conversation may start with an inbound call to your contact center but then follow up with a text message, which then triggers a third response based on if they click or interact with that message. 


To provide fast and reliable customer service, you can use Twilio’s autoresponder to generate an instant reply for every inbound SMS message. This is much more scalable than having to individually answer each message, especially for common questions.

This capability extends to inbound messages through WhatsApp or web chat. 

It’s similar to the drag-and-drop IVR builder in the sense that you set up different auto replies for different types of messages and inquiries, each yielding a unique response. 

Twilio Pricing, Plans, and Add-Ons

Twilio’s plans and pricing can be tough to understand. To help add some clarity, we’ll quickly cover its most popular offerings—including the price for each and what it’s used for.

Twilio Flex

  • Customizable contact center solution
  • Starts at $1 per hour per active user or $150 per user per month
  • Free trial comes with 5,000 free hours

Twilio SMS

  • Ability to send and receive SMS/MMS messages
  • Starts at $0.0079 per message
  • Rates vary by volume and location

Twilio Programmable Voice

  • Embed Twilio voice calling into any application
  • Pricing based on usage
  • Starts at $0.0085 per minute for inbound calls and $0.014 per minute for outbound calls

Twilio WhatsApp Business API

  • Manage inbound and outbound customer communications via WhatsApp
  • Starts at $0.0042 or $0.005 per message
  • $0.015 per message for link shortening and click tracking (first 1,000 free per month)

Twilio Conversations

  • Cross-channel messaging capabilities
  • Supports SMS, MMS, WhatsApp, and chat
  • Starts at $0.05 monthly active user

Twilio Verify

  • Ability to validate that a real human is creating an account
  • Verifications via SMS or voice passcodes
  • Starts at $0.05 per verification

Twilio Studio

  • Platform for building communication flows with drag-and-drop capabilities
  • Starts at $0.0001 per execution, request, and invocation
  • 1,000 flows, 10,000 functions, and 10,000 asset requests are free

These are the most common options available for contact center use cases. There are other plans as well, and you can view all of Twilio’s prices here

We recommend talking to a Twilio sales rep to fully understand which products are right for you. In many cases, you’ll need more than one to truly get the most of the platform.

For example, if you want to use Twilio Conversations to unify messaging across WhatsApp and SMS, you’ll still need to get the WhatsApp API and SMS plans. 

The voice API is one of the most popular features for any business that wants to embed calling capabilities into an application. 

Is Twilio Right for You?

Twilio makes sense for businesses that have truly customizable needs for contact centers and customer communication. If nothing else on the market delivers what you need out of the box, then you can build it with Twilio. 

If you have in-house development resources and need to customize inbound and outbound communication through multiple channels, including voice, SMS, MMS, WhatsApp, web chat, and email, then Twilio provides everything you need under one roof. 

It’s also a really useful tool if you need to verify and validate user registrations or logins for secure products. If you want to send a one-time passcode or call every time someone logs into your banking app or healthcare portal, Twilio is a great option.

But in most cases, Twilio is too complex and unrealistic, especially if you don’t have an experienced development team. 

Small businesses and even large contact centers that need advanced options for calling and omnichannel communications should look elsewhere. Twilio is only necessary for enterprise-level customizations. 

Refer to our list of the best call center software for additional options if you need to find a better fit for your business

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