The business landscape is in extreme flux and as a developer, I’m loving it. We’re seeing the old guard try to reinvent themselves, while new competitors are attempting to outpace them. Competition is at an all-time high. There are innovations and opportunities to use APIs to develop cool new apps in various areas ranging from Chat-Ops to Biz-Ops to No-Ops.
As developers, we can work with our business partners and customers to empower them towards improving in a specific area that I see a lot of white space in: personalization. Why personalization? Because it increases competitive advantage by striking at the heart of the problem: improving how companies can advertise to, market to, sell to, and ultimately service and retain customers. It’s a non-trivial problem that focuses on customer delight and, one that APIs are well suited to address.
Imagine a scenario where a potential customer calls you directly. Do you know who they are? How valuable they can possibly be? Whether they have any interests that might be relevant to your company’s products? If the answer to those questions is no, then you can throw any hopes of personalization out the window. And without a personalized experience, you are less likely to convert that opportunity. If that person happened to be your ideal customer, you’ll be filled with regret with what could have been.
Well rest assured, I have an idea for you that should be able to help your business colleagues immensely. We’re well into an API-led revolution where, with a few key building blocks, you can make some amazing things happen. The best part is that you can get started very quickly on this idea with just a few of the following APIs:
- Twilio for telephony
- WealthEngine for understanding the customer lifestyle and wealth
- ZenDesk for service workflow and orchestration
- Slack for the internal collaboration customer service chatbot application
Let’s flip the aforementioned scenario on its head and paint a more ideal picture. A potential customer calls in, but now you have access to their profile and are able to look up their lifestyle interests, wealth, assets, income, and purchasing power. All of this information was made available via an API; but what would you do with it?
Depending on whether they fit your idea of a perfect customer, you might push them to the “preferred” white glove treatment queue where your best, most experienced service agents are waiting to service them. If they are not your ideal customer, that’s ok too. But in that case, you may not want to direct additional resources to them, so instead you route them through an automated chatbot or answering service workflow.
Here are a few steps to help you get started.
1. Set up accounts in each of these four API providers:
a. Slack - Go to api.slack.com/custom-integrations for all of the documentation and a great example of how to build a custom integration. From there, sign-up for your own free Slack team to test out your custom integration. At some point, you have to make a decision between a Slack app that can be installed by any Slack team or an integration which is specific to your process and workflow. Once signed in, create a new bot at my.slack.com/services/new/bot. Then you will receive an Access Token that you can use to proceed with your custom Slack integration or app.
b. Twilio - Navigate to twilio.com/docs/api where you can sign up for a developer account. Once you have an account, go to the Getting Started section - twilio.com/console/voice/getting-started. Here you can get your first Twilio phone number or start building your app.
c. ZenDesk - Head over to developer.zendesk.com/rest_api/docs/core/introduction for the ZenDesk API Docs. You have two options - you can authenticate with the API out of the box by just sending your username & password (not recommended) or manage your API keys within ZenDesk (Admin > Channels > API).
d. WealthEngine - Visit dev.wealthengine.com and register for a sandbox account. From there, generate an API key from the dashboard. The docs at dev.wealthengine.com/api provide clear cut instructions on what endpoints are available, what JSON object to provide, what comes back, and even the ability to call the API from the Docs.
2. Build out a workflow to automate or improve upon your processes. Here’s a sample one for you:
a. Capture the phone number from an inbound call to your newly acquired Twilio phone number.
b. Perform a lookup on the search endpoint of ZenDesk to get some additional information about the caller based on that phone number.
c. Pass that information (name and address, phone, or email) into the WealthEngine API to return a wealth profile. From the wealth profile you will now have the individual's income, net worth, and their Propensity to Give.
d. With this qualifying information, you can call the ZenDesk API, create a ticket, and adjust the priority.
e. Finally, you can log the call, additional wealth information, and the ZenDesk ticket info into Slack for the team to see.
3. With access to your APIs and a workflow conceptualized and built out, the final step is to open up Sublime (or whatever editor you use) and get coding. Lean on SDKs where possible to prevent writing foundational code that may have already been put together for you. WealthEngine’s API, for instance, provides a PHP SDK that allows you to modify a few configuration variables and start making API calls within minutes of registering for the Sandbox.
These are just a few tip of the iceberg thoughts on the amazing things a developer can make - while pleasing their business partners along the way. I have found it to be most rewarding when I tinker, share, and co-build a vision with others. Please feel free to contact me. I’d love to know more about what you’re doing and exchange some ideas. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tjstalcup.