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Using API’s to overcome friction points in the customer journey

Using API’s to overcome friction points in the customer journey
Abdullah Muhsin, Senior Content Marketing Officer at Apigate

If a carrier can’t provide customers with what they need, most likely they will move to the next.

Let’s consider a day in the life of your telecom’s subscriber.

She takes a train to commute to work. During the commute, she needs to get on a Skype call with her peers about one of their key accounts. She needs good network coverage, but the connection gets increasingly worse as the train approaches a bend.

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Later, she barely has any network service, just in time when she needs to make an important call to a client. This causes frustration and will earn her a reprimand from her manager. Agitated, she starts considering a different carrier.

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This is an example of a broken customer journey, the one where the customer keeps running into obstacles at various touchpoints with your service.

And it’s the quality of a customer journey—be it great, terrible, or dull—that makes all the difference for the success of your telco.

So in today’s blog post, we’ll look at how APIs can help you create a great customer journey: one that seamlessly delivers personalized services.

Customer Journey Essentials

Defined as a “complete sum of experiences the customer goes through when interacting with your brand and product”, the customer journey is what makes companies last or belly flop.

This is particularly important for telecoms, where the experience itself (network coverage, signal strength, cost of texts, quality of voice calls, data consumption, etc) plays a big role.

The similar holds true for merchants. If your game or app keeps crashing, or your mobile payment solution ends with identity theft, customers will be frustrated and might consider moving on.

On the other hand, by removing broken steps in the customer journey, telcos and service providers will reach greater customer satisfaction, expand the customer base, and thus ensure long-term sustainability and profit.

Fixing broken steps with APIs

The reason APIs have a lot of potential in customer journey creation is that they allow unlocking telecoms’ full potential.

Telecoms have amassed enormous amounts of data on customer behavior, data usage patterns, and their wants and needs. This data holds useful insights into what each customer wants.

With big data analytics, infused into these aggregate telco data, it would be possible to identify broken steps. Big data allow conducting pattern analysis to find touchpoints where the issues occur. APIs then allow sharing and using this knowledge to modify customer experience.

Whether it’s lost signal at particular geolocation, constant overuse of data packages, numerous abandoned calls due to bad connectivity, or disinterest due to a lackluster offering, big data analytics will find it.

Once these broken steps are pinpointed, telecoms can use these insights to weave their offering around these customer needs. They’d be able to deliver custom-made digital experiences.

Not only will they be able to resolve customer issues faster and cheaper, but they will be able to find new revenue streams.

Sharing knowledge to mutual benefit

With APIs (application programming interfaces), you can build applications with a programmable interface. This is important as it means that any merchant with access to APIs can access telco applications and request services.

In a nutshell, APIs allow information to be exchanged and help companies deliver and request services at scale. While merchants will use telco network assets, telcos will have access to other industries: gaming, e-care, or smart agriculture, to name a few.

Going back to what we’ve said earlier, APIs would allow sharing these insights with potential partners, enabling them too to offer a highly personalized experience to customers.

And what’s best is that a telco-merchant partnership, fuelled by APIs, would enable both parties to offer a wholesome and seamless digital experience.

Putting APIs to use in the customer journey

Some areas where telcos can act at first are customer-facing digital channels, automated customer-facing workflows, and mobile-enabled customer interactions.

From these channels, telecoms could extract data that would allow them to collect insights.

Personalized life cycles

With APIs, telecoms can segment target customer and the customer base, and then create a life cycle that would recognize the key customer needs while rationalizing the need to scale the experience.

Let customers take over

Using API-backed insights, you could create a plan of digital experience to include mobility. Owing to their flexibility, APIs would let you allow customers to define how they want to interact with you. Whether it’s a push or pull, APIs would support dynamic changes and adjustments to the customer experience in real-time.

Ensure reliability and consistency

From a purely telecommunications perspective, APIs would allow telecoms to simplify support infrastructure to ensure more consistent and predictable outcomes.

As we’re going to show in the next example, APIs would help telcos predict network “congestions” and act preemptively. This reduces customer support costs and solves the issue well before it happens.

API powered customer journey

Let’s now have a look at an example of a broken customer journey, remedied by APIs,  based on a video by IBM Big Data and Analytics Hub.

A telco gets a number of complaints about the network signal strength at the central metro station. The network team gets contacted.

They look into data patterns and deduce that users are mostly spending their time consuming data-light apps and services, such as Twitter, SMS, FacebookMessenger, WhatsApp.

The network team decides to reduce transmission backhaul capacity and instead increase radio capacity at the central metro station.

They go further into analysis and conclude that nearby metro stations in the area are likely to experience the same issues.

To preempt unnecessary customer complaints and ensure smooth customer experience beforehand, the network team decides to reduce transmission backhaul capacity and increase radio capacity in these stations as well.

By using the power of APIs, this carrier was able to remove major obstacles well in advance, relieving customers of a need to contact customer support or get frustrated. More importantly, the carrier was able to tailor the offering to satisfy customer needs more accurately.

Attracting, delighting and retaining customers through personalized experiences

Today, when each customer wants a unique experience, it’s crucial telecoms and merchants ship flexible and dynamic offerings to the market.

With APIs, telecoms and CSP can engage with their customers through new, previously under-monetized assets. Helped by APIs-enabled insights, telecoms could use data usage patterns to create bespoke bundles for each customer segment, and then look deeper into each customer in particular.

For instance, telecoms could offer social media bundles that meet the needs of younger users more or even allow users to create these bundles themselves. But the key benefit in using APIs is that MNOs and CSP can fix any broken steps in the customer journey and treat each customer uniquely.

APIs can scale easily, and allow personalized services to be delivered to millions of users timely and through the right format.

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