Why is Twilio’s Trustpilot score so low?
Twilio is the largest and most successful multi-channel communication provider on the planet. Major brands like Deliveroo, Uber, Airbnb and Ebay rely on Twilio to communicate with their customers via SMS, email, voice, WhatsApp and more.
They’re a huge beast. Their set of CPaaS tools, built to handle the most complex and demanding of applications, is unrivalled.
They deliver complex tools at scale.
In their own words…
If you’re an enterprise customer, Twilio will most definitely be on your shortlist of potential CPaaS suppliers.
Curiously low Trustpilot score
For a leading US corporation, Twilio’s Trust Pilot score of just 1.5 out of 5 seems dangerously low. They are rated as ‘bad’.
Why do Twilio appear to be doing so badly? What exactly are they doing to deserve such a roasting in the reviews?
Why is The SMS Works looking into Twilio’s Trustpilot review scores?
Before we dive into the details, it’s worth taking a moment to explain why we’re doing this review. You’d be forgiven for assuming that this is just an opportunist swipe at a much larger competitor.
There may be a grain of truth in that.
We are competitors, to some extent but there’s actually surprisingly little overlap. We offer an SMS API rather than a full set of multi channel tools and we cater mainly to UK based customers. In fact we don’t have a single customer who is based in The US.
So to answer the question, we are genuinely curious.
Why has such a trusted and popular supplier with such amazing products got such a bad Trustpilot review score? What are the common issues that customers raise and what could Twilio do to resolve them?
A review of Twilio’s bad Trustpilot reviews
Our investigation revealed that some of the poor reviews are most thoroughly deserved but many are not. Some of the issues customers face are only partially Twilio’s fault, while some of them are not really their responsibility.
We found the complaints fell into 7 categories.
1. Slow and unresponsive support
Reviewers seem to agree that Twilio’s support service is very slow with some customers waiting days for a response to basic questions. When responses do come they are often dismissive and don’t actually address the issues raised.
Here’s a selection of frustrated customer comments.
“This has been the absolute worst company to deal with. No actual person to speak to. No way to get any real answers. I’m looking into a lawyer at this point.”
“No one to answer the phones.”
“No help after one week of waiting.”
“Support response times are horrible.”
“Our experience with Twilio was bad from the start. We had a call with Alexus scheduled way in advance and she never showed for the meeting.”
“Absolutely terrible. They don’t have customer service. This is not hyperbolic.”
“The overall app/service is nice and easy to use, but the support is absolute garbage”
“It took me 3 days to respond or they closed the incident without answering.”
“Their service is a catastrophe!”
I could go on.
There appears to be a big mismatch between the urgency of the customers’ problem and the response from Twilio support.
I get the sense that small companies and start-ups don’t get the same level of attention as established brands.
One email competitor Mailgun even refers to Twilio’s poor customer service in their own Google Ad! When you search for Twilio’s email product Sendgrid, their ad plainly states that their support is superior.
Some customers receive a totally different and much better support experience.
“Their support for developers is professional.”
“Have always had awesome interactions with Twilio — prompt service, helpful responses and they’re always very patient with us in figuring things out.”
So the picture is by no means entirely bleak.
2. Clunky admin processes
Customers are asked to complete lengthy forms and provide extra documentation to complete the on-boarding process.
This is understandable. Twilio needs to ensure that their platform isn’t used by anyone with criminal or spammy intent.
It’s perfectly reasonable for them to conduct due diligence on their customers. But they don’t seem to be setting the expectations for account sign up in advance, or giving adequate explanation of why there is such an involved process.
People are signing up expecting a 2 minute process and are ending up with long forms and a level of unwelcome scrutiny. Here are a couple of examples.
“They asked for many documents during the on boarding process, we have provided everything (company docs and personal docs) and then they said that they can’t proceed with the application without giving any explanation.”
“Support – send the longest form I ever saw.”
Customers have also struggled to complete basic tasks like closing their account.
“Twilio refuses to close my account.”
“I cancelled Twilio over 2 years ago now. I requested the numbers be released and completely closed. I just received ANOTHER email requesting a new card and saying my account is still be billed and will continue to bill me..”
3. Prepaid account depleted due to SMS pumping fraud
SMS pumping fraud is a relatively new type of fraud. It happens when insecure web forms are attacked to automatically generate thousands of SMS messages.
These texts often contain one time password (OTP) codes. Sending these messages quickly depletes the user’s Twilio account and the fraudster benefits by generating a revenue share with the mobile network.
The situation is then made worse if the customer has an ‘auto top up’ option enabled which automatically adds new funds to the Twilio account, only for it to be instantly drained.
“Our prepaid account was reduced to minus thousands of dollars. Money was withdrawn from our bank account.”
“Then, someone used our api and twilio informed us immediately via email, after that we had a charging of 3600 euros from our credit card.”
Responsibility for this type of fraud must lie with the customer. It’s not Twilio’s job to create secure web forms that can’t be ambushed in this way.
Twilio is simply doing what they were supposed to, i.e. delivering OTP texts so customers could sign up to a service.
4. Accounts suspended with inadequate explanation and slow support
I have some sympathy with Twilio on this one. There is so much fraud in the SMS world and providers need to have automated systems that lock suspicious looking accounts.
What’s missing with Twilio is quick action in switching back on and whitelisting legitimate customers, rather than just silence in response to the increasingly frantic requests for help.
If Twilio has suspended an account because of security concerns, then it could mean that a business has literally been stopped in its tracks. For example, If SMS OTP codes are being stopped then new customers can’t sign up to a service.
There clearly needs to be ways that legitimate customers can get their accounts unblocked quickly without needing to wait days for a half-hearted response.
“They would suspend your account with no detail or reasons and make you wait 2 to 3 weeks before you really understand what is going on.”
“Restricted my account instantly after I paid $20 for account upgrade.”
“They suspend your account for “suspicious activity,”
5. Twilio account closed because the customer hadn’t logged in for a while
This particular problem has been driving Twilio customers absolutely nuts.
If you haven’t logged into your account for a couple of months, then Twilio has been known to shut the account for ‘your protection’ and invites you to set up a new one.
You then can’t use your email address to set up the new account because it’s already in use.
Once you do succeed in setting up a new account, it might be immediately blocked because of a high security risk.
Here are a few customer comments from Twitter.
6. Opaque pricing
Twilio’s product offering is complex.
Some customers are struggling to get their head round what the products they need are going to cost.
Prepay customers place funds in their account which then get used to pay for the services. The problem arises when customers simply don’t understand what they’re paying for or how the services are charged.
“I have been trying to figure out the pricing of their service for over a month now. After a productive call with one of their sales manager, I never heard back from them.”
“charged again several odd charges.”
7. Hosting spammers
Twilio has experienced a surge in spammers using Twilio hosted numbers for spamming by email and SMS.
The problem is escalating and Twilio seems powerless to tackle the root problem.
As a solution, they are suggesting that customers use their number verification product but customers point out that this service comes at an additional cost.
“Serious scams and spam coming from Twilio servers and they are not fulfulling their responsibility to counteract it.”
“I have been harassed by people that are calling from numbers registered to Twilio – yet it is allowed to continue.”
“Well, judge by yourself, whether using Twilio makes sense, if you share the services with spammers.”
General customer comments about Twilio on Twitter
You don’t have to search very hard on Twitter to find disgruntled Twilio customers venting their frustration on a range of subjects.
In defence of Twilio, they have a huge customer base and there will always be a vocal minority of frustrated customers who make their voices heard.
But Twilio undeniably has a customer support and communication problem that needs addressing.
From their Trustpilot reviews and Twitter comments, Twilio needs to improve their service in a number of areas.
Speedier customer support
More attentive account management for start-ups and small businesses
Explaining and setting customer expectations on the signup process
Improve awareness and solutions to combat SMS pumping fraud
Inform customers in advance if they’re planning to close their account
Combat spammers who are using Twilio issued numbers
Clarify and simplify pricing
Deploy tools to stop deposited funds being fraudulently depleted and then recharged
Twilio of course knows all this and I’m sure they’ve got plans in place to tackle this and more. Best of luck to them.
I hope this doesn’t come across as a bit mean-spirited. I don’t think we’re overplaying these problems too much.
Twilio are a great company but they have dropped the ball on a few rather crucial issues.
Is The SMS Works a sensible alternative to Twilio?
One time passwords by SMS. Why is this so popular?