How APIs transform the customer experience
Businesses are increasingly recognizing that customer experience is the distinguishing factor from their competition. Transforming the customer experience is now a business imperative; thanks to companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify, customers are expecting levels of service and delivery times unthinkable 10 years ago. Customers expect an omnichannel, personalized, immediate experience and if they don’t get what they are looking for, 60% of customers will leave for a competitor.
The customer experience we expected a few years ago is no longer sufficient to retain customers. To succeed, organizations must transform customer experience into something immediate, omnipresent, yet personal.
Transforming customer experience expectations
- Mobile Apps – providing customers a wealth of knowledge and self-service help at their fingertips
- Social Media – opening up up the instant response options for consumers as traditional channels gain a reputation for long lines and bureaucracy
- Artificial Intelligence – increasing volume by handling millions of simple transactional queries with a chatbot instead of customer service teams
A truly great customer experience means providing a better service than what the customer can do themselves using these technologies. Unfortunately, as businesses try to keep up with the technologies customers are using, they tend to generate more silos and isolated customer data. This leads to disconnected and ultimately negative customer experiences.
“Businesses are focusing intently on individual touchpoints, rather than looking at the end-to-end journey,” says Jacobs. “This only serves to reinforce the silos in their business and drive a disconnected customer experience.” The secret to breaking down the silos and transforming the customer experience is developing an API strategy.
How APIs transform the customer experience
APIs (application programming interfaces) are becoming increasingly valuable to business because they have emerged as the most accessible way to extract value out of enterprise data. As the easiest way to connect systems together so they can exchange information, APIs have an almost endless variety of uses. They can be used to open up new revenue streams; improve existing products, systems and operations; and provide valuable insights to make better business decisions. But they have to be organized and connected in a strategic, holistic way to provide any value. The way we recommend APIs are developed, built and deployed is through an approach called API-led connectivity.
API-led connectivity is a methodical way to use APIs, designed for specific purposes, to expose data and services onto a platform for broader consumption by the business. With this approach, rather than connecting data sources and systems with point-to-point integration, every asset becomes a modern, managed API.
The APIs used in an API-led approach to connectivity fall into three categories:
- System APIs – these usually access the core systems of record and provide a means of insulating the user from the complexity or any changes to the underlying systems. Once built, many users, can access data without any need to learn the underlying systems and can reuse these APIs in multiple projects.
- Process APIs – These APIs interact with and shape data within a single system or across systems (breaking down data silos) and are created here without a dependence on the source systems from which that data originates, as well as the target channels through which that data is delivered.
- Experience APIs – Experience APIs are the means by which data can be reconfigured so that it is most easily consumed by its intended audience, all from a common data source, rather than setting up separate point-to-point integrations for each channel. An Experience API is usually created with API-first design principles where the API is designed for the specific user experience in mind.
By building and organizing your APIs this way and then making them discoverable and available for the business to self-serve, API-led connectivity has made your business composable, allowing teams throughout the business to compose, recompose and adapt these APIs to address the changing needs of the business.
In a customer experience transformation context, Imagine a shipping company builds an internal Customer API (a process API) that includes information about registered customers, their address, email, purchase history, etc. from various System APIs in front of customer databases; in short, it creates a single view of their customers.
This Customer API can be used across the organization to achieve a number of business objectives. IT and other technical teams can use the API to create a mobile application for users, build an internal web platform for sales representatives, or create a partner portal for shipping status, all with Experience APIs.
One internal API can have multiple use cases and help streamline business processes across the entire organization. In addition, organizations can also expose the API to partners, who can iterate on these APIs and provide a more comprehensive, omnichannel engagement for customers. With API-led connectivity, every API that is built continues to create value for future business requirements.
How companies have used API-led connectivity to transform the customer experience
Companies in multiple industries, from banking to retail to the public sector have all used API-led approach to connectivity to create new experiences for their customers faster. Sid Vyas, CTO in Capital Markets and Investment Banking Technology at Wells Fargo has used API-led connectivity at his organization with great success. “Our time to delivery has certainly improved,” says Vyas, “and that’s what our customers expect.”