Building Better

Customer Connections

Introducing Chat to Video Escalation in Twilio Flex

Text-based chat is the expected norm for business-to-customer communication today. Modern consumers are tech-savvy, and businesses report an average top-line revenue increase of 70% after investing in digital customer engagement over the last two years. However, while chat brings the benefits of convenience and speed, Twilio’s State of Customer Engagement Report 2022 revealed that more than a third of people experience digital fatigue:

Companies need to be sensitive about not overloading consumers with interactions, and should engage with them in an appropriate, human, and responsible way.

In seeking to support their current customers and sell to their prospective customers, companies are looking for ways to leverage digital communication while still building deep connections and avoiding digital fatigue. For this, they are turning to video. Studies have shown that video increases empathy. With the COVID-19 pandemic came the normalization of video—for business, healthcare, education, and social engagement. Even now, the adoption of video communication as a part of everyday life continues and is unlikely to change as long as people go online for work, shopping, and services.      

To build deeper human connection into their digital customer service and sales interactions, companies can adopt chat to video escalation. In this interaction model, agent-customer communication begins as a text-based chat, but the agent can escalate the interaction to a full video session. The two parties can quickly and seamlessly transition to a video room to continue their interaction.

In this guide, we’ll walk through how this is possible by introducing you to the new Video Escalation plugin for Twilio Flex, a cloud contact center platform used by businesses around the world to centralize customer service agent operations and communication. We’ll cover the following:

  • The benefits of chat to video escalation

  • The challenges of chat to video escalation

  • Example use cases

  • An overview of the Twilio Flex Plugin solution

  • The Twilio Professional Services team

Twilio Professional Services is a team of world class Twilio experts that empowers builders to maximize their capabilities on Twilio’s platform. We accelerate and de-risk projects, enabling teams to leverage learnings from across industries to build scalable applications that can grow with your business. 

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The Benefits of Chat to Video Escalation

In the middle of a chat interaction with a customer, the agent may determine that basic chat is insufficient. How might the organization benefit by having a reliable solution in place to escalate the interaction from chat to video?

Four icons showing deeper connection, seamless experience, more effective sales, and faster resolution.
Seamless customer experience
Maintaining a strong agent-customer connection is non-negotiable. Asking the customer to leave the chat interface to use some external video conferencing software is not an option. The ideal solution provides a seamless transition for the customer—chatting at one moment, and video calling in the next. The connection with the agent is maintained throughout the transition.
Deeper customer connection
Although today’s consumers are accustomed to digital interactions, they also yearn for human connection. In fact, our customer survey showed a preference for human interactions over digital ones. When seeking product service or support, 69% of consumers prefer human interaction over digital. When simply asking a question, that number jumps to 74%. By equipping agents with a mechanism to escalate customer interactions to video, organizations are providing deeper human connections for their customers.
Faster resolution of customer issues
In some cases, an agent can resolve customer issues more quickly when interacting over video. Product support or troubleshooting is a good example. When an agent can better understand the customer’s issue by seeing & speaking with the customer over video, then customers will experience a faster and more satisfying resolution of their issues.
More effective sales interactions

Your company’s sales agents may field inquiries from across the country or around the world. While chat makes this a possibility, video can take these sales interactions to the next level of effectiveness. Your prospective customers won’t feel like they’re just sending messages to a nameless and faceless representative.

Twilio’s report on customer engagement in the digital era concluded that “customers want to feel they are buying from a brand operated by people with similar values to themselves.” With video, your sales agents can serve as the face of your company.


Ultimately, combining human connection and satisfying resolution leads to a substantially improved customer experience. Chat may be a good start, and is sufficient at times. However, in instances when escalating to video would be helpful or necessary, your company will benefit by having this capability in place.

The Challenges of Chat to Video Escalation

Although the benefits of this capability are clear, getting there can be challenging. Let’s consider some of the main challenges when implementing and operating a chat to video escalation mechanism.

Implementing a solution
Not many customer chat platforms support the ability to transition seamlessly to video. Your current tech stack may be limited, leaving you with only a few options.
Build your own
Your first option would be to stay with your current platform, but build a custom solution for chat to video escalation. However, most companies cannot afford to dedicate engineering resources to projects that are not core to their business products and services.
Adopt a platform that supports your needs

Rather than investing resources to build a significant piece of a customer support platform, many companies will make the switch to a different platform, one that supports their needs. By leveraging existing tools, companies can get up and running—in this case, with chat to video escalation—quickly and without the need to devote excessive engineering resources. 

Twilio Flex is a cloud contact center platform that is programmable and extensible through the use of Flex Plugins. Among the plugins available is our solution for agent-side escalation of a chat interaction to video. Read on for an overview of how to get started with this plugin.
Operating this capability

Assuming you have put the technical pieces in place to facilitate video interactions with customers, your company will also need to consider operational concerns.

Icons depicting hardware and infrastructure, equipment, and training and policies.
Hardware and infrastructure

Fortunately, if you are working with Twilio Flex and using the plugin, facilitating video will not require additional infrastructure. The plugin works with Twilio APIs behind the scenes to handle these operational concerns for you.


Transitioning your customer service (or sales) operations to support video chat will require providing your agents with equipment. To engage effectively with customers over video, your agents will need proper cameras, microphones, and headphones.

Training and policies

Your customer service agents will need training. Just as they may have been trained with scripts and scenarios when engaging in chat conversations with customers, they will also need training on how to engage over video. This will include technical training to cover aspects such as camera positioning, lighting, and audio levels. Your agents will also need to be trained regarding demeanor, personableness, and conversation style.


Separate from training, your company will need to establish policies for how agents conduct video chats with customers. What is acceptable dress? What requirements will your company have regarding the location or video background for their agents? While chat transcripts are saved and audio calls are often recorded, what policy will your company have when it comes to recording video?


The challenges we’ve touched upon in this section are noteworthy, but they’re not insurmountable. The benefits of facilitating video for agent-customer interactions far outweigh the challenges of implementing and operating a solution. Companies just need to consider the potential challenges with their eyes wide open.


Up to this point, we’ve discussed chat to video escalation in hypotheticals. Let’s consider some concrete use cases for this solution.

Example Use Cases

The following example use cases show concrete scenarios when chat to video escalation would be especially effective. These are industry-specific examples we’ve seen in action, but you may find that at least some aspects of all scenarios resonate with your present experience.

When a customer needs support with a recent purchase
When a customer needs support with a recent purchase

A customer reaches out to a major retailer where they recently purchased a new electronics product. The customer starts a chat with the company’s customer support. When it’s clear they are struggling to install the product, the agent can escalate the chat to a video conversation so that they can more easily assess the customer’s problem and help them solve it.


The same retailer can selectively use a chat to video escalation to help with configuring or demoing products to promote sales and mitigate returns and frustrations.

When a client needs help with a financial services application
When a client needs help with a financial services application

A customer is completing a loan, credit card, or IRA rollover application and they get stuck. They start a webchat through the financial institution’s website and once their issue is routed to an agent, it becomes clear that they need more help. An agent offers to move the conversation to video so that they can share their screen, verify their identity, and finalize the application together.


In this scenario, many issues can be adequately addressed through a combination of automated webchat responses with some chat conversations routed to live agents. A much smaller number of those conversations can be escalated by the agent to video as needed, increasing productivity overall, but maintaining that human touch that consumers value.

When a member needs help with healthcare benefits
When a member needs help with healthcare benefits

A state’s public health benefits program is on a mission to make healthcare insurance available to the state’s neediest residents. While in-person, onsite visits used to be the norm, it wasn’t possible during the pandemic, and it’s not practical now given the digital tools available. When nurses connect with a new member via their Twilio Flex-enabled contact center webchat, they can easily escalate to video to walk the member through their enrollment form or insurance claim, share their screen, respond to questions, and get members the information they need in a highly personalized way.

With this solution, the organization has drastically improved their productivity and improved employee morale who are now more free to work from home but they are still able to provide life-changing help to their members with a human touch.

An Overview of the Twilio Flex Plugin Solution

What are the steps you would take to implement chat to video escalation? Let’s walk through an overview of what you need to do.


Using the Twilio Flex Video Escalation plugin assumes you have the following baseline for your current agent-customer interaction tech stack:

  • On the agent side, you currently use Twilio Flex 2.0 as the central contact center platform for your agents.
  • On the customer side, you use a web-based chat application built on top of the Twilio Conversations API.

If these two pieces are already in place for your organization, then you can skip the rest of this Prerequisites section. If you don’t, not to worry – we’ll walk through links to help you setup the scaffolding for Flex and chat with the Conversations API.

Introduction to Twilio Flex

Twilio Flex is a customer engagement platform that centralizes all customer interactions in a single place, regardless of the channels your customers use to engage with your company. Your agents can interact through chat—within a single interface—whether your customers are using SMS/MMS, WhatsApp, or a traditional web-based chat interface. Flex also accommodates inbound and outbound voice calling capabilities.

Although building a full-featured contact center with Flex may seem complicated, getting up and running is straightforward and fast. You can start by watching a video that walks you through how simple it is. Setting up your Twilio Flex instance will provision a new Twilio number for you. This number can accept voice calls and text messages.

Introduction to Twilio Conversations

While the agent-side of the interaction leverages Twilio Flex, your customers can chat within a traditional web-based chat client built on top of Twilio Conversations. Twilio Conversations is a set of APIs and SDKs used for building chat experiences using Twilio-supported channels. Developers can use the programming language of choice for building the client-side application, making calls to the Conversations API. Twilio also provides an SDK for building Android, iOS, and JavaScript-based applications.

You can refer to the following guides to quickly get up and running with Twilio Conversations:

Overview of the Flex Plugin

The chat to video escalation feature is implemented as a Flex Plugin built for Flex 2.0. Code for the plugin is publicly accessible in this GitHub repository.

What are Flex Plugins?

The Flex UI is a fully programmable platform that allows developers to build a custom user experience and behaviors within the Flex contact center. The standard method of implementing these customizations is through building Flex Plugins. Flex Plugins are built on Node.js with React and ReactDOM.

Plugins can access the frontend API for Flex, allowing developers to add or remove components, build custom handling for Flex actions and events, and manage notifications.


Twilio provides a Flex Plugins CLI for developers to build, test, and release plugins. Flex admins can manage their plugins through the Flex Plugins Dashboard. If you’re interested in trying out Flex Plugin development on your own, you can get started here.

User experience flow for agent and customer

When using the Chat to Video Escalation in Flex Plugin, the end user experience flow looks like this:

Agent side
After determining that the chat interaction should be escalated to video, the agent clicks on the video icon in the chat window:

A new tab is visible to the agent, who clicks on the button to Join Video Room.

After clicking the join button, the agent connects to the video room and can interact with the customer.

Now face-to-face, the agent can determine the root of the customer's problem, consider possible solutions, and work with the customer to fix their issue in real-time.


This allows your team to resolve user issues faster and more efficiently, while ensuring every customer service interaction meets (or exceeds) your users' expectations. 

Customer side

Behind the scenes, Twilio creates a new video room and generates a unique code and URL for joining the video room. The Flex UI auto-sends a message to the customer:

When the customer clicks the link in the message they received, their browser opens a new tab with a button to Join Video Room.

After clicking the button, the customer connects to the video room and can interact with the agent.

Technical details

Because this is custom-built for Flex, the plugin leverages many behind-the-scenes Twilio resources to facilitate a seamless transition from chat to video. Twilio Serverless Functions handle all of the complexities regarding video room setup, token generation, and authentication. These details are invisible to the end user and abstracted from developers using the plugin.

The plugin performs the following processes:

  • Generating a unique code to act as the name of the video room

  • Creating the video room

  • Generating the access token for the agent to use to connect to the video room

  • Generating the access token for the customer to use to connect to the video room


The plugin also provides the in-browser video room UI, along with all Twilio Serverless Assets and logic using Twilio’s Programmable Video JavaScript SDK. This customer-facing application is part of the plugin, built and delivered to the customer in the browser when they click on the Join Video Room button.

How Twilio Professional Services Can Help

Many organizations quickly see the value of Twilio APIs and SDKs for their omni-channel customer engagement needs. This includes leveraging platforms such as Twilio Flex as well as plugins for customizing the Flex UI, such as the Video Escalation Flex plugin.



While Twilio’s platform flexibility is a strategic opportunity, it can pose a challenge for some organizations that may benefit from guidance in order to build the right solution from the start. When customers need to accelerate their implementation, minimize risk, or solve innovative problems on Twilio, they turn to the expertise of Twilio’s Professional Services team.

Lyft logo

For example, ride share app Lyft partnered with Twilio’s Professional Services team to build a completely customizable call center that serves associates, drivers, and customers better than ever before.

In Lyft’s previous customer support solution, contact center associates had to look up an average of 11 data fields for every contact, creating too much work for associates and wasting customer’s precious time. Now with Twilio Flex, associates have all the contextual information they need to respond to a customer query, allowing them to serve riders and drivers faster and more seamlessly.

Thanks to Twilio’s Professional Services team, Lyft was able to build a Flex-powered custom call center that helps the business assist customers, millions of interactions at a time.

Read the full case study → 

Twilio Professional Services works alongside your company to plan your project, provide expert guidance and developer resources, and support you from project ideation to project completion.


As businesses increasingly move toward digital engagement, they are balancing the convenience of text-based chat with the need to build deeper human connections and avoid digital fatigue with their customers. The approach for many companies is to transition their customer service and sales agents to use video chat with customers. The ideal solution for achieving this approach is chat to video escalation, in which an agent-customer interaction begins with text-based chat but then escalates to video.

The benefits of this approach include building deeper connections with customers, which can lead to more satisfying issue resolution and more effective sales interactions. As we’ve seen, the solution brings some operational challenges, particularly in the areas of training and policy for this new type of interaction. However, implementing chat to video escalation is straightforward for companies that leverage Twilio Flex. 

Try the already-built Video Escalation Flex Plugin if you are ready to adopt, customize, and deploy this solution now. For companies that want to adopt this approach but are unsure of how to get there, contact Twilio Professional Services today. We can’t wait to help you build!


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