The Benefits of API-First Support Tools

API - Application Programming Interface

John Wang at Assembled explains the benefits of API-first support tools.

Imagine that a customer live chats with one of your support agents to check on the shipping status of their recent order.

Your agent opens the ecommerce dashboard, navigates to the customer’s order number, and immediately sees that the order is being fulfilled and is scheduled to ship later today.

That seems simple and common enough, right? A typical customer support agent fields those types of requests all the time.

But answer this: How did that happen? How was the ecommerce platform able to quickly and seamlessly get information from your warehouse or shipping provider?

Here’s the answer: an API. 

What Is An API?

An application programming interface (API) is what allows different applications and software programs to talk to each other.

Think of it as the messenger between two different solutions. It collects information from a different program or database and brings it back to you.

Let’s return to our example for some clarity. When your support agent uses the ecommerce platform to check an order status, the API is what gathers that information from your warehousing provider’s database and then returns it to you.

Unless you’re the one writing code, you don’t need to understand the ins and outs of APIs in detail. Just know this: They’re the behind-the-scenes magic that connects and integrates your various software solutions.

So What Does It Mean to Be API-First?

APIs have been around for decades, but they’ve definitely grown in importance as our world has become increasingly connected.

From booking a flight to making a payment, you’re relying on APIs on a daily basis — whether you realize it or not.

That means APIs can no longer be an afterthought or an add-on. For future-thinking development teams, they need to be a priority.

That’s exactly what API-first development is. With this approach, development teams actually build the API first, before they ever write a single line of code for the application itself.

They’re building with the idea that the application will be accessed and used by other devices and solutions, rather than thinking about the product in isolation.

Today, an impressive 67% of developers say they embrace an API-first philosophy. And we’re no exception. Here at Assembled, we’re proud to be API-first.

What Are the Benefits of API-First Support Tools?

It’s safe to assume that most developers understand the advantages of API-first tools. But what about you and your support team? Will you experience any benefits from this philosophy?

The short answer is yes. While most of the magic of APIs happens under the hood while you’re none the wiser, API-first software offers plenty of perks for the ones who are actually using the tools: you and your support team.

1. Flexibility and Customization

Your goal with your customer support tech stack is to help your team work as effectively and efficiently as possible, and that’s hard to do if your agents need to constantly toggle between different dashboards and platforms.

APIs mean that you can integrate solutions together (yes, most integrations use APIs) and streamline your workflows.

Whether you want to manage your brand’s social media interactions directly within your customer support software, automatically convert certain customer emails into support tickets, or seamlessly transfer information between your team’s software and your BPO, API-first solutions help you build a flexible tech stack that feels completely customized to your support team.

2. Scalability

When software is designed with an API-first approach, it’s intended to be accessed by and used with other applications.

It was meant to be used as part of an ecosystem, and not as a standalone solution. In short, it was designed to scale.

That’s another major benefit of API-first support tools: they’re able to grow right along with your business and your team, without a bunch of workarounds and duct-taping.

As you introduce new tools, team members, support channels, and more, APIs allow you to add on and adjust your tech stack, without completely starting from scratch.

3. Future-Proofing

For development teams to build API-first software, they need to be future-minded. They’re building the software with tomorrow in mind, not just today. When new challenges inevitably arise, API-first software helps you adapt.

Think of the sudden shift to remote work as just one example. When support teams were forced to work from home during the pandemic, APIs are what allowed teams to continue with their daily work — like accepting customer phone calls, remotely accessing support software, or communicating internally with other agents — without being in the office.

In short, you never know what can happen. The tech stack that works well for you today might not work as well for you tomorrow. Because API-first tools are so flexible, they’re better positioned to help you adapt to whatever the future holds.

4. Cost-Effectiveness

Software comes at a cost, with the average support team spending just under $200 per agent every single month on software tools alone.

With that in mind, it seems strange that APIs could actually translate to savings. However, APIs allow your team to make the most efficient use of the software you have.

How? Well, APIs are the engine behind the automations and integrations that save your support team countless hours (not to mention plenty of frustration).

And when time is quite literally money, APIs do lead to some meaningful cost savings on your support team — even when you’re still spending money on the software itself.

5. Experience

APIs are the secret sauce for streamlined workflows. That means a better work experience for your agents, who don’t have to feverishly click between different tools or jerry-rig a bunch of clunky workarounds to get the information they need.

And when burnout continues to be a growing problem among customer-facing employees, even small ways you can improve your agents’ work lives can make a big difference.

But your support agents aren’t the only ones who benefit from the power of APIs — your customers do too.

With the connectivity and support APIs provide your software tools, customers get faster and more accurate answers along with a higher level of personalization.

Those interconnected systems mean agents are able to quickly access data that they can use to improve the customer experience, which is a top priority for nearly every organization.

Your Support Software Needs…Well, Support

Even if you get the best software on the market, you’re likely still going to need a variety of other tech solutions on your support team.

From live chat to analytics to your knowledge base to workforce management, your support team relies on a slew of technology to best serve your customers.

But to do that well, you need a true tech stack — not tech siloes. That’s where APIs come in. These interfaces are what allow your various solutions to “talk” to each other so you can build a connected, integrated system that benefits your team and your customers.

Author: Guest Author

Published On: 11th Mar 2024 - Last modified: 12th Mar 2024
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