Without the digital capabilities which we all relied on during the pandemic, the effects of COVID-19 on many businesses would have certainly been far more detrimental. Yet beyond the standard online tools and services, there is a huge opportunity for far more enhanced and sophisticated customer engagement. This is where the flexibility of APIs come into their own. In this article, I’ll walk you through the basics of developing your API-driven services.

What is API?

An image showing a person searching about API software.

An API – or Application Programming Interface – is the piece of software that enables two applications to ‘talk’ to each other. We all use them unknowingly – almost every interaction with an application requires the use of APIs. Yet for enterprises, digital communications to support customer interactions have largely been a static environment, requiring the purchase of specific tools and support with integration.

In contrast, APIs create a far more flexible approach and provide companies with more options to design and tailor their customer communications. APIs are the basis of programmable communications. Doubtlessly, this software is the way forward for brands wanting to tailor their customer communications, whether through voice, messaging, or cloud number services.

 The growing potential of API-driven services

Research by Mordor Intelligence shows the global Communications Platform-as-a-Service market (CPaaS) was valued at more than US$4.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to top US$26 billion by 2026. The report states that ‘the growing need for easily maintained network systems that can enable effective communications across multiple end-user industries’ is evident.

To remain connected to their customers, brands need to recognize the benefits of programmable communications. Moreover, truly digital customer engagement requires businesses to adopt the cloud-based model, streamline customer touchpoints through self-service, and automated processes. In the following paragraph, I’ll answer how to embrace some of these changes.

What is the API basic framework?

To achieve all requirements mentioned in the previous paragraph, businesses need a flexible, scalable API framework. This is particularly important to ensure that the different channels do not become silos that prevent a smooth cross-channel flow.

With programmable communications, the stages of customer contact can be controlled across different channels, regions, and countries. For example, a single voice API can enable a multitude of different processes, including:

  • Converting text – such as a one-time password or automatic reminder message – to speech, customisable by language, type of voice, tone and emphasis.
  • Implement flash calling to mobile phone numbers, for multifactor authentication.
  • Record voice calls, including notifying the caller at the beginning of the call.
  • Enable number masking to protect personal numbers – essential for interactions where safety and security is required, such as exchanges between an Uber driver and rider.
  • Allow clients of global organisations to use in-country numbers, selected via API.

What are the benefits of the API-driven services?

An image showing the API-driven services with a person entering the security code.

Online retail businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on messaging services to keep the customer informed and to maintain the relationship even after the transaction is completed.

Let’s consider an example: a merchant uses two-factor authentication to verify a shopper’s identity. Thanks to APIs, the shopper has the option of receiving the security code via email, SMS or voice. Once authenticated, the shopper can ‘chat’ online with a smart assistant to clarify any questions about the prospective purchase.

Post-purchase, feedback and product reviews can be requested, as well as discount codes for future use, all enabled by API-supported programmable communications. Messages can be delivered to one or multiple recipients, and the state of an underway message can be checked after transmission. With the right messaging APIs, brands can build reliable applications and enhance their customers’ experience quickly and efficiently.

Final thoughts

The pandemic has put organisations under considerable pressure to improve digital interactions with their customers, who today expect sophisticated communications. By combining the use of programmable APIs with cloud communications, enterprises can benefit from a powerful set of services.

Communications and related functionality can be seamlessly integrated into customer engagement touchpoints. The possibilities are endless – these services can be adapted based on the needs of the business, with at all times keeping the ultimate goal in mind of improving the customer experience.

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