Do you use software to help you run any aspect of your business?
In this day and age, the answer to that question is almost always, “Yes.” From cloud-based solutions for scheduling and customer relationship management to inventory management and accounting software, there are ways to manage, perform or document almost any business process with software – and almost every business utilizes software in some manner.
So, what happens when you use software as an integral part of your business communication process and you want to outsource management of your business communications to an answering service or contact center?
For instance, let’s say that you are a massage therapist who uses MINDBODY for all of your appointment scheduling and contact management. You’ve decided that you need an answering service because you’re missing calls from new and existing clients who want to schedule appointments. You don’t want to stop using MINDBODY because it works well for you, you’ve already got it configured and you’re happy with it. So, the answering service you choose will need to be able to utilize your MINDBODY account to schedule appointments for your callers. When you start researching answering services, you discover that none of them are familiar with MINDBODY. In fact, most services want to sell you on their calendaring solutions. Are you supposed to abandon using a solution that you’re satisfied with for the sake of having your incoming calls handled by an answering service? A few other services tell you that they can train their operators to use your MINDBODY account, but there will be thousands of dollars of training costs and risks associated with handing over direct access to your MINDBODY account including security and data corruption issues. Should you pay thousands of dollars for a solution that could put your precious data at risk?
Fortunately, there is a better way.
By utilizing an API (Application Programming Interface) to integrate your software with your preferred answering service, you can avoid the pitfalls associated with forcing an answering service to work directly in your software.
Basically, an API allows for the creation of simple web forms that can be used by the customer service representatives taking your business calls. It allows them to see your database and communicate with it without having direct access to the admin area of your software – thus removing the need to train the answering service representatives how to use your specific solution while also keeping your data safe and secure.
Most major business software solutions have an API and it usually just takes a quick Google search to determine if the software or cloud-based solution you’re using provides one. So, if you are looking to outsource some of your communications to include scheduling or the like, check with your software provider about whether or not they provide an API. It is the first step to opening up your options, and keeping them efficient, when considering an answering service or other contact center solution.