APIs: The keys to transforming customer experience

Written by Rick Hutchinson on the 15th of May, 2018

First off, apologies for leading with an acronym. But in this instance, I feel the need to evangelise about Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as they are the silent friend of any stakeholder seeking to transform a legacy or analogue business.

For those of you who have thought, this isn’t for me purely because its tech, think again. APIs have become fundamental to an organisation’s objectives.

Thriving and surviving these days means meeting the ever-changing digital demands of customers, colleagues and even suppliers. To retain existing customers, reduce customer churn, differentiate on service delivery, exploit new markets, you have to be able to streamline and automate workflows and remain both efficient and agile.

With a mobile, smart customer comes an immediate need to offer a consistent experience in any channel whether in-store, online, across social media or by phone. Organisations that relied simply on a single channel in the past need to rapidly expand channels and innovate whether it be service delivery through Internet of Things, accessing new markets, breaking down internal silos to improve customer service or optimising supply chains and logistics through fulfilment partners.

The key to achieving all of the above lies within the power of APIs. In layman’s terms, APIs are building blocks that provide a defined method of communication between software components. Essentially, they allow different technologies to continually talk to one another and share data, which in turn creates both more streamlined and automated processes, real-time. Many of the tasks that we perform on our mobile phones such as posting messages on social media or shopping are completed with API calls.

And for the bunch of brands that have become known as ‘disruptors’, much of their competitive advantage is derived through their greenfield tech-architecture. The pace at which they can share data, automate and react to change is a result of utilising software with powerful APIs.

The good news for incumbents however, is that the almighty API can also be their saviour. Legacy businesses are realising slowly but surely that if they want to properly leverage SaaS technologies in a way that can utilise some of their existing IT infrastructure, then the role of the API is paramount to success, and building out their tech stack to support this is vital.

In our world of omni-channel help & support, we are frequently challenged in this way. Creating a single view of the customer requires a level of data-sharing that is not available across multiple functions in a legacy business. Our response to achieving this is, ‘if there is a will, there's a way, and if there’s a way, it’s usually an API’.

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