The API Integration Imperative: Sometimes, SIP Doesn’t Cut It

Robin NICHOLS

7 min reading time

API Integration - three people behind a computers in front of a world map

Many contact centers have embraced SIP trunking for its cost-efficiency, but don't opt for API integration – at the cost of competitive customer service

Customer service is now a spectator sport. Delivering exceptional care that goes above and beyond the call of duty can help you win new customers while making advocates of existing ones.”

Brandwatch, 2016

NewVoiceMedia begins one of their 2016 reports with the following observation:

So, what do customers want? It’s usually just a quick, easy and friendly resolution to a problem. 77% of US online adults say that valuing their time is the most important thing a business can do to provide them with good customer service.

This quote is symptomatic of wider phenomena in the B2B and B2C community: we are firmly in ‘The Age of the Customer.’  What this boils down to is that customers expect businesses to provide exceptionally smooth, contextual experiences that fit around their needs – consideration of their time being one of them.  Brand differentiation is and will continue to be shaped by the satisfaction of these expectations.

For example, NewVoiceMedia’s research found that consumers would switch to another business because they: feel underappreciated (53%) are put off by rude or unhelpful staff (42%), are fed up of speaking to multiple agents (32%), are annoyed by a lack of staff knowledge (29%), are tired of being kept on hold (25%).

 

Customer experience will overtake price and product in 2020 - API integration

NewVoiceMedia

These issues are particularly pertinent for contact center agents, who deal directly with customer (dis)satisfaction and often find managing telephone traffic challenging.

Phones still handle around 68% of all contact centre communications (NewVoiceMedia)

Indeed, for many, calling a contact center is synonymous with endless waiting, time-consuming transfers and frustrated agents that don’t have any context to address the call. Not very impressive in this new “customer-centric age.”

So what can contact centers do to improve their customers’ experiences? Take full advantage of customer-facing services from CPaaS providers they are already using.


While most companies with high call volumes have embraced SIP trunking for the benefits they provide for the company,1 they don’t always choose to integrate annex services that would improve the customer experience.

In our eyes, this is a lost opportunity and a mistake.  Contact centers cannot afford navel-gazing in the age of the customer. They must recognize the “API Integration Imperative,” or the notion that the market has evolved to create expectations of exceptional customer experiences built on intelligent, integrated communication technologies.

Only 7% of customers are “extremely satisfied” that brands are providing a seamless, integrated, and consistent customer service experience across all channels (NewVoiceMedia)

Many CPaaS providers, including CALLR, provide both competitive pricing combined with an interconnection network with tier 1 carriers, as well as API integration that allows for sophisticated communication scenarios between contact center agents and customers.  A wise company would be one that uses both intelligently for maximum (business-facing) cost-efficiency as well as exceptional “customer-centric” experiences.

Need to brush up on APIs? Check out our intro article “What is an API?”

What API Integration Brings to the Table: A Services Ecosystem

For example, we have a client in the real estate industry whose directory-style website helps individuals find the best real estate agent near them, or get an assessment of their property.

They use SIP trunking for outbound calls and API integration to build a smart call experience for both their clients, staff and end users.

An ad for an apartment with Click to Call

Firstly, thanks to API integration, anyone can call the agency directly from the ad of an appealing apartment, using the click-to-call feature shown above.

Click-to-call adds a layer of convenience for the end user, especially considering how time-consuming apartment hunting already is.  But the real value here is that the number shown on the screen is a specially dedicated tracking number.  Inbound calls are therefore redirected to the phone number of the relevant real estate agency, (in this case, “Paris Seine”), but since the call comes in on a separate tracked number, its logged in a CDR report for later analysis.

Keeping track of how many people call which agencies allows the directory to prove their ROI to the agencies they work with.

For any business with a marketplace or directory model, call-tracking is an excellent way to accurately set affiliate or advertizing fees, get important data on who calls, and ultimately prove their ROI to their clients.

Call-Recording

In 2010, the Age of the Customer began. Now the customer is empowered and leading the way. Companies with a laser focus on offering an exceptional customer experience will be today’s and tomorrow’s winners. These businesses will ensure that customers feel good as they discover, evaluate, buy, receive and use the products and services they sell.”

Chris Churchey, CIO

Once the call is connected to the real estate agency, it can be automatically recorded and saved as a media file on the CPaaS provider platform.  Advantages are numerous: Quality control, training new agents, or even providing evidence in case of a legal dispute. Companies that can study and iterate on agent-customer interactions in this way are better equipped to improve their processes and provide exceptional customer experiences, especially as their product or market evolves.

Call Whispering

Personalization creates a better customer experience. Technology has made it easier than ever to track customer preferences and history. Big data gives us trends and insights with uncanny accuracy. There is no reason to not create a more personalized experience that caters to a customer’s individual needs.”

Forbes, Ten Customer Service And Customer Experience Trends For 2017

When the call goes through to the real estate agent, the callee hears a small ‘whisper’ before they are connected, providing them with relevant information to address the call in context.  They can learn if this is a repeat caller or not, where they’re calling from, or pretty much any piece of data logged somewhere in their IT system.  This helps agents deliver a truly personalized experience for the customer.

IVR and Real-Time Call Control

Intelligent call-routing is already available but it is predicted to grow in the next ten years – matching the customer with the right expert almost instantly. As CRM and workflow management systems develop, a complex match-making process will occur every time a customer calls to ensure the right expert is on hand to solve every problem.

The future contact center: 10 predictions for the next 10 years, NewVoiceMedia

For contact centers or businesses who receive a lot of inbound traffic, having a smart IVR system and real-time call control can help regulate traffic and make more efficient use of agent time.  Customers are increasingly frustrated with having to go from agent to agent to reach someone who can help solve their problem. Automatically directing callers to the right agent will save time and give the impression that the agent was knowledgeable and quickly able to help.

Looking for a reliable SIP provider offering smart services with an API?

Check CALLR

Key Takeaways

  • Businesses are being challenged to provide more and more exceptional customer experiences
  • Customers expect that businesses value their time, are able to quickly address problems and make them feel appreciated
  • Contact centers especially should make use of all available resources to provide these exceptional experiences – starting with API integration from CPaaS providers
  • “Smart” features like click-to-call, call tracking, call recording, call whispering, IVR and real-time call control – in addition to the benefits of SIP trunking – can ensure businesses create smooth customer experiences as well as stay cost-efficient
  • Ultimately, this will help businesses stay competitive in the so-called “Age of the Customer
  • [1] (billing per second, no traditional telephone flat fees, set up fees or long-term contracts, flexibility for adding channels, etc...)