Building a better customer engagement model through APIs

By Jonathan Crowl

For many businesses, the selling point of application programming interfaces (APIs) is that they help extend online reach. No matter the size of your company, that’s a benefit worth considering, but it’s not the only advantage — especially for enterprises that already have massive reach and considerable brand recognition. These companies are likely seeking something else: a better customer engagement model.

On mobile, the user experience is in a state of constant innovation. APIs allow enterprises to construct an intuitive, consumer-centric model. Although many enterprises already make wide use of APIs as part of their mobile infrastructure, there are still a number of ways this resource is being underutilized.

Enterprises would be wise to think of the customer when considering how their mobile presence could benefit from greater use of APIs.

Building a Framework to Utilize Data

Enterprise brands have the resources to build massive stores of data and to use data models, which are critical to building a strong mobile user experience. A mobile app, or several mobile apps built to create a branded multi-app experience, can benefit from utilizing that data with the aid of APIs. The APIs alone can create a more integrated experience that leverages other apps on users’ phones, but data will show you how that behavior is occurring, even in real-time.

Greater access to data can provide more contextual insight into how apps are being used, which makes all of your insights more valuable. The data can illustrate how consumer behaviors are changing — patterns that may prompt your enterprise to consider new APIs that might provide a better service to those users.

Thomas Bouldin characterized the mentality developers should embrace in the following way, as Silanis reports:

  • The API should be the centerpiece of the developer experience
  • The usage and adoption of APIs should be front-and-center when building a better customer experience
  • Every touch-point needs to be considered

Silanis cites electronic signatures as an example of such a solution; integrated electronic signature tools are both more secure and more satisfying to users. Enterprises should seek methods of building similar features and additions into their own mobile interfaces, and using their data resources to do so in the most effective manner possible.

Personalizing the Experience, at a Large Scale

As enterprises work to improve their own mobile customer engagement model, one differentiating factor is rising to the surface: the personalized nature of their branded experience. Consumers are drawn to personalization but, according to Wired, many remain unimpressed with branded efforts: Seventy percent said they feel that many “attempts at personalization are superficial.” In fact, one-third of respondents said personalization is annoying.

But it’s annoying for a reason: Too often, personalization misses the mark. When consumers feel a company is trying to create a custom experience and delivering it to the wrong person, the efforts can backfire for a company. It exposes the brand as insincere and disconnected from that consumer, and engagement can suffer.

APIs, combined with rich consumer data, can build a useful, relevant customer experience that is personalized and engaging. But brands must put in the work and investment to make that experience genuine. When enterprise brands can effectively use their data to leverage APIs, and when developers can ensure that the end-to-end experience is designed with consumers in mind, brands can not just deliver a personalized experience — they can do so at a tremendous scale.

That allows enterprises to leverage their already-significant reach with the personalized touch that brands need to compete online. APIs are the foundation of this enhanced customer experience, and hold the key to building a successful new customer engagement model.