So, you deployed a chatbot on your messaging app. It interacts with your customers and provides support. But when confronted with complex problems beyond its comprehension, the chatbot routes the queries to your customer service software applications, where a live agent can respond to them.
The system is efficient, saves time, and helps you save costs. You make the most of your messaging apps and customer service software.
But have you ever wondered how this system sustains itself? If you talk to developers, they will tell you it all boils down to API integration.
So, now the question arises: What is API integration, and why do you need it to make the most of messaging APIs? Let’s find out.
Understanding the role of messaging APIs in business communications
Messaging is one of the most critical aspects of any business. Messaging apps facilitate seamless communication between internal and external stakeholders as well as customers. They offer systematic management of communication, greater transparency, and process efficiency gains.
In short, new applications for messaging simplifies business communications.
Over the years, the concept of messaging has evolved from legacy methods like faxes to messaging apps. Most businesses use state-of-the-art messaging apps like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoho Cliq, etc., that offer businesses holistic internal and external support.
Whether you are a small to medium business or a large corporation, you need messaging apps for making efficiency gains, improving collaboration, and seamless coordination.
The only pre-requisite is for your messaging apps to work in tandem with other apps you use to run your daily activities. That’s where messaging APIs come into the picture.
An application programming interface (API) comprises a set of protocols that enable messaging apps to “communicate” with two or more applications you use. Messaging APIs also allow you to share data between various system applications.
Since messaging apps are not the only apps you need to run your business, you need messaging APIs to integrate the apps with your existing digital architecture and maximize their usage.
The importance of messaging API integration
Integrating messaging APIs with other system applications has multiple benefits.
Supports end-to-end digitization of your business intelligence
Messaging API integration with different software applications can help you create a digital ecosystem that is highly effort-efficient and optimally productive. The processes do not go haywire because the integration bridges the gap between two applications by defining a set of protocols that govern this interaction.
Your messaging app works seamlessly and effectively with your other applications.
From omnichannel communication to automation of repetitive processes, enhanced customer experience, and real-time updates — messaging API integration helps unlock the true potential of the digital. And every business needs that, now more than ever.
Offers excellent scope for scalability
When your messaging APIs are already integrated with other APIs, the stage is set for you to introduce newer solutions or upgrade your existing architecture. You don’t have to do anything from scratch.
Plus, by facilitating data transfers between connected systems, messaging API integration allows you ample scope to scale your business.
Helps you make significant cost savings
Automating time-consuming tasks like writing an email, manual data entry, or sending messages reduces the need for physical labor. It also reduces the chances of error. These factors work in tandem to ensure you can save big on labor costs and correcting mistakes.
API integration also boosts security through authentication. Data loss, whether customer or enterprise data, can be rather expensive. API integration creates a highly moderated environment for interaction and data exchange between your messaging and other system applications. So, a secure messaging API integration can always safeguard your communication channels.
Best practices for integrating messaging APIs
The process of messaging API integration is complex and, therefore, needs sound strategizing. While you will have to turn to developers to create connected systems, the following best practices can ensure the process succeeds.
Choose the right integration method
You can carry out any API integration in three ways, including messaging APIs. These include:
Custom API integration - If you don’t have a clearly defined API strategy or have never done it before, custom API integrations could help you get started.
Third-party API integration - Connector apps are pre-configured and contain generic protocols that facilitate the integration of the most common messaging APIs with other system applications.
API integration platforms - These are highly technical and usually come with both pre-configured setups and custom integration.
While all three are used in messaging API integration, you need to consider a flexible, scalable, and secure method. Since integration platforms are the most versatile, even if the most complex of all three processes, it is advisable to go for it.
Do bear in mind that integration platforms are expensive and require sound technical knowledge for maintenance.
Pro tip: Always match your messaging API integration model to the deployment mode of the messaging app in question. So, match on-premise messaging APIs with on-premise integration methods, cloud to cloud, etc., for best results.
Create a goal-centric integration strategy
Messaging APIs can be integrated with any of your other existing functionalities. But remember that your integration should always keep usability and customer support at the forefront. This is especially true for direct-to-customer (D2C) businesses, where messaging apps facilitate interaction with the client.
Devise a strategy that accounts for what you want to achieve with the messaging API integration. Outline your goals at the onset so that you can streamline the integration process and get measurable results once it has been implemented.
Store your API documentation for future reference and ensure that everyone within the organization is on the same page regarding its execution.
Pay attention to data
Messaging API integration facilitates the seamless movement of data between your messaging app and your digital ecosystem. So, you need to maintain the quality of the data you work with. If the source data is wrong, then the integration will be useless.
You should also create an endpoint for the most commonly used/accessed data. It will add an intermediate layer of data handling so that your integration doesn’t suffer if the messaging app or the digital ecosystem changes.
Test and validate your messaging app integrations
Create simulations of a real-world scenario and put your messaging API integration to the test. Since the integration process is complex, it’s essential to do trial runs so that you can spot and rule out errors. It will help you streamline the process and keep errors at bay.
Remember that API integration is an evolving process. Because the digital landscape is exceedingly dynamic, your integration strategy should be adaptable enough to keep pace with it. Interoperability is the core functionality of any API integration, and if you fail to achieve that, your efforts will be futile.
Why you should take a user-centric approach to messaging API integration
Messaging APIs are all about servicing the end user, and history proves that messaging API integration has enabled businesses to provide exceptional customer service.
A case in point is Dom, Domino’s Pizza’s chatbot. That chatbot was deployed on Facebook Messenger and could interact with customers to take their orders. Of course, Dom’s APIs were integrated with the brand’s order management software, so the setup worked without any glitches.
Similarly, KLM, the Dutch airline, also deployed a messaging chatbot to interact with its customers for real-time updates, send notifications, etc. Messaging API integration at the backend enabled KLM to let its messaging chatbot work seamlessly with other applications.
The brands took a customer-first approach to messaging API integration in both cases.
Here’s why you should do it, too.
Messaging APIs target the end user, whether deployed for external or internal communication. The process may primarily facilitate the communication between two systems, but that’s only because it makes life easy for you or your users. Therefore, any backend integration needs to favor the user experience these apps have been deployed to provide.
So, when you start thinking about messaging API integration, take a user-conscious approach to the process. The APIs your developers design and the method of integration you choose will affect the messaging app's performance. So, if you proceed with improved customer experience as your goal, the integration will be guided and successful.
However, if the integration fails to improve the usability and utility of your messaging app, then you’re in trouble. Before making amends, you need to review your messaging API integration goals and processes to identify what went wrong.
This can be time-consuming and expensive, defeating the greater purpose of creating an interconnected digital architecture.
Why undertake that hassle when you can start on the right note?
So, rethink your messaging API integration strategies and implement changes without further ado. It will go a long way in improving the health of your business in all aspects.