Sasha Kamenetska | Contributor
December 11, 2013

Engaging Your API Customers

 

When we work with companies to develop their API strategy, we have them start by looking internally at what their goals and needs for an API program are.   And while this is a key place to start, it’s not enough to stop there.  Once you have engaged internal stakeholders to determine goals and a roadmap for your API, you have to engage with your API customers to ensure that you are providing them with a product that meets their needs.

No matter who your API customers are (internal users, partners, customers or third-party developers), you should be engaging them on a regular basis to determine what challenges they are facing as they are using your APIs.  And your API users will often have different needs, wants, complaints, etc. than your internal stakeholders, even if your users are internal to your company as well.  It is important to know what they are thinking to make sure you are keeping them satisfied. After all, if customers aren’t satisfied with what you are offering them, you won’t have a successful program. 

There are many ways to engage your API users.  We often recommend that API providers hold roundtable discussions with their API customers to get feedback on the existing features of their program and input on any upcoming changes/additions that are being planned.  To ensure it is successful, an event like this needs to be carefully planned and the takeaways need to be well analyzed to provide actionable changes for your program.  A roundtable can be a great way to bring your most engaged/vocal/important customers to you, get their feedback and make them feel heard.  

API customer feedback should not be limited to a one-off event, however.  It is best to continuously engage with your users to ensure that every part of their experience with your API (from on-boarding to launching an app using your API) meets or exceeds their expectations.  Ask for feedback during every phase of your relationship.  Provide formal feedback forms at the end of the on-boarding process, request verbal feedback when you talk to customers in person and leave a channel open for them to provide feedback at any time.  By ensuring that you are hearing your API customers, you will not only make them feel valued, you will also ensure that you know what direction your program needs to go in.