Without APIs, the digital world would be a different place. But the beauty of APIs is that so many people are completely unaware of their existence. Without asking what an API is, APIs are used practically across the board in numerous industries, and they add value, improving the overall customer experience.
APIs can even help to unearth exciting revenue streams for the business.
If you’ve ever used Facebook or downloaded maps on Google, paid for goods using PayPal, or shared something on social media, you will have used APIs. But exactly what is an API, and how can it help to develop and expand the customer service and experience?
What Is An API?
As a basic beginning to discovering the complexity behind the simple API, it stands for Application Programming Interface.
Answer to What is an API
APIs are message-carrying applications that allow different sites or different apps to communicate with each other. They take a request from the user, and they inform the system of this request, and then they get the response back to the user.
APIs provide an additional layer of security for the user. The device is never exposed to the server directly or fully, which means that there are only small pockets of data shared.
Example of an API use
As an example, when you look for a hotel on a hotel booking site, you get hundreds of results back from a search that specifies a date or location. These results get to the screen because APIs interact with different hotel websites to retrieve the relevant results.
APIs are not new, but they have risen in prominence in recent years thanks to businesses increasingly completing tasks online. APIs are increasingly needed as the digital transformation of the customer experience takes place.
How An API Benefits Your Business?
Businesses can use APIs effectively to transform their operations and drive forward a better, smoother customer experience. In fact, without APIs, an online business (and all businesses are online today) is at a significant disadvantage. Businesses can use APIs to provide their data to external sources or to access data from outside of their own business. APIs are also used to improve the internal functions of businesses and increase the volume of transactions.
When a business has an API structure in place, workflows are improved, and business processes are streamlined. There are other benefits, including building better transparency and being able to identify and thus minimize risk in systems. Also, APIs can be a monetary stream when they are made available to other businesses and programmers. There is no doubt that APIs are strategically valuable. They can also reduce overall IT costs.
Using Modern APIs
Modern APIs are developed to be easily accessible and useful to developers. They are designed to be understood, which makes modern APIs so valuable to businesses. APIs are thus treated less like a piece of code and more like a product. Since APIs are standardized, they are secure, and they are also more easily monitored. In addition, API documentation best practices should also be observed during development.
Businesses are increasingly using APIs to improve their customer service and customer experience. Since customers are spending a significant proportion of their time online, they expect high standards in delivery and service, which can be more easily achieved with effective API development. Customer service is imperative since the choice available to customers means they will leave for a competitor if they do not receive the customer experience that they are expecting.
The Transformation of Customer Service
The way customers interact with businesses is changing. And this is mainly due to the technology available. Mobile apps provide people with a mass of data and knowledge at their fingertips, wherever they are. Social media allows people to instantly access customer service and also to provide feedback and seek advice and reviews. Artificial intelligence replaces traditional customer service models with chatbots and other ways of getting queries resolved.
Basic customer service will use all of these technologies. But in order to deliver a standout customer experience, the service must provide something more than the customer can achieve on their own. It must also ensure that the experience is joined-up, and that customer data is effectively used in order to enhance the experience and not provide extra layers of bureaucracy.
As you develop APIs for customer service, consider your audience and what they do and where they spend their time online. This will affect the strategy you use for the development of the digital customer experience. You should also look at how your competitors are already using APIs in their businesses. How does your service compare? What could you use from your competitors that could be adapted to suit your own unique purposes? Also, look at how easy or difficult it is for customers to navigate their way around your sites currently. This will reveal areas where APIs can improve the entire experience for your customers. For example, how easy is it for users to find out how to contact customer support? Is the app as easy to use as the website? Does the checkout process has integrated support?
How APIs Help to Improve Customer Service?
APIs provide a valuable way to extract the value from the data that amasses in modern business systems. Using APIs has many different benefits for the customer experience and can be used in a variety of ways to improve it. Here are some key ways in which companies use APIs to create a better customer service environment.
Deliver a Highly Personalised Experience
Customers want to be known – and they want their online experience to be tailored to their needs. APIs can improve customer service by allowing integrated access to a vast wealth of data on a customer. Data gathered on preferences, movements, behavior, and purchase history can be used to plot profiles and deliver a better experience, whether the customer is complaining or purchasing new products.
Customers do not want to have to fill in their information twice or tell two people what they are looking for online. They want their details to be remembered, and they want to be able to use a credit card again without having to input all the digits. This mirrors the “traditional” customer service and experience, where stores prided themselves on remembering the names and preferences of the people who came through their doors.
Ensure the Accuracy of Data
Customers will quickly tire of a business if it gets their personal details wrong, resulting in inconvenience. APIs help to keep track of the accuracy of customer data and can be used to fill in the gaps without having to contact the customer directly.
APIs reduce the risk of mistakes made when people input data manually – i.e., credit card numbers. The automated process also saves considerable time so that members of the team can concentrate on value-added tasks for the business. The reputation of the business improves since there is a track record of reliability and consistency.
Deliver the Highest Value
Businesses can ensure that customers always access the best value products or services for their needs. This will naturally create higher customer satisfaction as customers get the best rates.
Keep Customers Informed
The longer customers can be kept on a site, the better the chances they will do all their business on that particular site. If they have to leave to find information elsewhere, the chances are high that they won’t come back. APIs help to offer added functionality through the same site, so the experience is a seamless one.
Drive Business Innovation
APIs can help a company drive forward in terms of innovation and the promotion of new technological advances. This will position the company in a prime position within the industry field.
Provide an Automated Service
An automated service has a great many benefits. It frees up time, and it means that customers get immediate responses without having to wait for an answer. This is particularly important in today’s digital world, where this immediate response is expected. APIs help to generate the most appropriate response automatically, for example, email or SMS.
Provide Better Marketing Resources and Promotions
APIs enhance customer experience by enabling the provision of more valuable marketing activities. This is particularly important since it is harder to connect with audiences when reaching out, due to communications restrictions and opt-out clauses. A tool to send automated, personalized promotions and rich campaigns when customers contact the business is therefore valuable. But it will only be valuable when it is targeted to the individual, which is where the API is useful.
Provide Enhanced Security
Customer service inevitably includes security facets. Anyone contacting a business expects their data to be secure, and this is particularly true when it comes to personal details and financial data. Cybercrime is a real threat, and businesses that do not pay attention to this will fall short of regulatory and legislative requirements, as well as customer expectations. Automated tasks can be set to authenticate payments and user identities. These can also be used to notify customers if there is suspicious activity surrounding their account. The benefits of this technology are not limited to financial businesses. Any business that deals with personal data can benefit.
Notify Customers Regarding Delivery
Customers no longer expect to have to contact customer support to confirm delivery or purchase. This is all now automated, and modern APIs have been developed in order to trigger the confirmation as soon as the purchase is made. Without this, customers are left feeling insecure about the status of their order, which reflects badly on the company.
Enhance the Profitability of a Store
Apps can enhance the digital experience of customers, but they can also be developed to enhance the experience of actually visiting a store in “real life”. APIs help to facilitate messaging based on the location of a customer in relation to the store. Details such as shopping history and personal preferences can be used to provide an update, or an offer linked to the store when the shopper is close to it.
Monitor Customer Service Performance
Monitor the performance of customer service teams more easily using API technology. This helps deliver a value-driven service to customers and ensures that any potential problems are spotted and can be rectified before they become major issues. It is easier to monitor performance when most aspects of the procedure are automated yet easily accessed.
Add an Appointment Scheduling Option
Most people like to be reminded of important appointments. Using APIs helps to avoid the frustration associated with missed appointments and also the financial burden faced by the company.
Avoid Abandoned Carts
eCommerce companies find abandoned carts a real problem. But with APIs, the process for notifying and enticing back customers is more straightforward and usually more effective. Incentives can be more easily tailored to the individual to make it more likely they will return and complete their purchase.
The digital customer service experience is a vital link in the chain of a successful business. Concentrating on customer service means paying attention to how users interact with the business and what they expect from the experience. APIs can do much to automate and personalize the customer service response to deliver the best value for the customer and the business.