You might not be well-aware about APIs. However, the chances are good that you are using APIs every day while checking weather updates, browsing social media, or sending a Whatsapp message to a friend.
In this data-driven era, the term ‘API’ has emerged as a popular business buzzword.
But what exactly is it? Why do we need to Integrate Chatbot with APIs and How API integration can help businesses? Let’s go through this article to learn about the basics of API.
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Makerobos is a leading technology company in India focusing on engagement centric products enabling marketers, product owners & customer success managers to create a conversational engagement strategy that outshines any conventional method so that businesses can reap the benefits of fully engaged, loyal customers.
What is a Chatbot or Conversational AI?
Chatbots are known as computer programs that interact with people in a way that mimics human interaction to some degree. It is a chat-based service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence.
What is an API?
API is defined as the User Interface for machines or computer programs, by which they interact with other application(s) to send and receive data.
In layman term, API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs serve as a “communication link” that allows multiple applications to fetch and send data from connected sources. API conveys your message or requests to the source or application and sends the response back to you.
Today, APIs have become the most preferred way to transfer data from one source to another, that too, without putting any human effort. Almost every industry that is serving customers via digital channels is making use of APIs to get and send user data to relevant teams.
Understanding APIs Further: APIs vs Framework vs Middleware
Many times while learning about the APIs, people often get confused with relevant terms such as Application Framework and Middleware. However, these are separate from each other in terms of functionality and functioning. Lets read about them in brief and understand how they are different:
Defined as Application Program Interface, the term API relates to the methods to interact with machines. For instance, to fetch specific ingredients of user data from CMS, you can make use of suitable APIs while defining the user parameters that needed to be fetched.
The Framework can be defined as a tool or set of tools that can be used to build applications. A framework library can be accessed via APIs to parse or change information.
A Middleware is a software or application that enables multiple applications to interact with each other. For instance, you have an eCommerce website and a payment system; you can make use of Middlewares to connect them with each other via API integration.
3 Types of APIs
On the basis of request-response data transfer protocols, APIs are mainly characterised into three types, REST (Representation State Transfer) API, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), and RPC (Remote Procedure Call). The most common data formats used to define the response/request messages are XML, JSON, HTML or binary files for documents, videos and images.
Let’s learn about them in brief:
Popularly known as RESTful APIs, these are specifically designed to process data requests via HTTP functions, such as GET, POST, PUT, and Delete. REST APIs become popular with the expansion of web services. Most of the social media sites make use of this API to send and receive user data.
Unlike REST API, which is an architectural style, SOAP API is protocol-driven and depends on XML-based programming to fetch data. They are more secure and therefore see vast integrations in Banking and Financial Institutions.
RPC APIs are the newest form of APIs. They are mainly used to execute a block of code on a different server. RPC API can also be used over HTTP as a Web-based API.
Read General Use-cases of API Integrations to Understand them Better
Suppose you are hungry and you visit a restaurant to eat something. Now, the kitchen is the part of the system, where your food will get ready. But, what’s missing here is the link between you and the kitchen. This is where the importance of a waiter (API) arises. So to communicate your order, you call a waiter (API) and tell him the details. The waiter here acts as a messenger and inform the kitchen guys to prepare your food. When the food gets ready, the waiter (API) will bring it to you.
API integrations are all around us. They can be done when providing your customers with:
Software as a service: Software providers offer API integration to connect their platform with other applications. Companies like Hubspot, Salesforce,
Cross-platform sharing: When sharing a Youtube video on Facebook via share button, you’re using APIs that validate your user account without letting you switch applications.
Mapping Services: Food ordering and ride-hailing apps are the best examples to define the use of APIs. As to provide their customers with location-based services, such applications make use of APIs to fetch your location input from Google Maps.
What Chatbot Integration via APIs Mean, Importance, Benefits and Use cases?
Just like we(Humans) use User Interface (U.I) to interact with applications and perform actions, Chatbot requires APIs as a computing interface to communicate with the backend system and different applications.
The grasp of chatbots in Conversational AI cannot be understood without the Application processing Interface. APIs help chatbots to connect and communicate with multiple applications. Hence makes it easier for businesses to get hold of user data procured from different channels.
Some famous chatbot integrations are Whatapp API integration, Slack API integration, Hubspot API integration, etc. Chatbots can be connected with one or more than one application at the same time. This makes it easier to interconnect and organise data from multiple channels as per your business requirements.
5 Key Importances of Integrating Chatbot with Applications via APIs
- API integrations can help in expanding the functionality and productivity of business chatbots.
- Chatbots as the face of business-customer communications, process tons of data with each new interaction. Hence, it gets critical to organise the user-data flow and streamline it to the appropriate departments, whenever required.
- Not only this, but APIs can also be employed to fetch data from other applications, such as CRM, HRMS, ERP, etc. and send it to the chatbot for smoother functioning of business operations.
- Chatbots feed on data to make decisions and assist users with the right information. By allowing your chatbot to access user data via APIs, you can expand its functionality.
- API integration makes it easier for chatbots to fetch data from other applications, both inside and outside your organisation. In order to obtain data from different systems or applications, it’s essential to connect your chatbot with the relevant API.
Benefits of Integrating Chatbot with Different Applications via APIs:
API integrations connect your chatbot with applications that are part of your business ecosystem. Apart from processing data from one source to another, API integrations can benefit a business in many ways, such as:
Boost Employees Productivity and minimise the cost of procuring data
Employees spend most of their work- time fetching data while switching multiple applications. Contrary to this, when you employ APIs to do the same, it saves employees crucial time that can be allotted to attained the queries of buyers. With the elimination of manual work to access data, the cost of acquiring data from multiple applications also decreases.
Improve resource management and overall efficiency
By automating the data transfer, you can better manage resources and make it easier for them to get their hands on the data in just a matter of seconds. Hence, as a result, API integrations can also help in boosting their efficiency.
Better Customer Experience
Agents who provide customer support know that gathering customer information while attending them isn’t a simple task. Sometimes, it takes time for agents to find it and proceed ahead with the conversation. Following this, the delay in support degrades the customer experience. However, by integrating CRM with the chatbot, you can empower agents with user data in just a click. Ultimately, saving the time of your employees and customers.
Chatbot API Integration: Use Cases, and Applications for Different Businesses and Processes
API integration can power your chatbot with seamless user data at any hour of the day. Businesses that rely on bots for primary communication with their customers can integrate their bot with relevant APIs to streamline the business operations. Here we have mentioned how different API integrations can empower your chatbot and streamline important data across teams.
Scope of API Integration for eCommerce Chatbot
Integrate your eCommerce chatbot with useful APIs and extend its business functionality. Like, you can integrate, payment gateway to process orders, Google Maps to fetch customer location, or even incorporate reco engines to display buyers with product recommendations based on their activity, buyer's behaviour, trending products, etc.
Scope of API Integration for Employee Chatbot
APIs make it easier to integrate HRMS with Employee Chatbot. By connecting the human resource system with chatbot, you can empower employees to do multiple actions without any human interference. For instance, they can, fetch payslip, download Form 16, check ticket status, eave request status, and benefits claim, etc. From HR managers viewpoint, HRMS integration with chatbot can make it easier for them to resolve employees queries effectively and efficiently.
Scope of API Integration for Automobile Chatbot
Automobile aggregators and OEMs can expand the functionality of chatbots by integrating it with CRM via API. With this, a chatbot can access user details and car preferences to tailor personalised conversation. In case, if a user changes his requirements, books a car test drive, etc. then chatbot can also update the same information in CRM. As a result, the sales team get accurate user data, hence prepares them to connect with ready to buy customers promptly.
Scope of API Integration for Healthcare Chatbot
Although Healthcare chatbots can attain individual queries of patients, hospitals can further leverage different API integrations to connect their user database with the chatbot. So, they can get appointment details directly saved into CRM.
Moreover, by integrating Hospital Chatbot with Whatsapp, hospitals can automate the end-user processes. Like they can train chatbot to ask follow-ups question to patients, get patient feedback, etc. Further, a chatbot can save the information procured from Whatsapp conversation into Healthcare CRM.
Scope of API Integration for Insurance chatbot
With their ability to attend customer’s query in real-time, chatbots are proving to be the right companion for insurance companies. Insurers can further add value to chatbot-customer interaction by integrating with their CRM and ERP system. Also, a chatbot can save and send user details into CRM and forward it to the appropriate salespersons. Such as, if you have assigned various sales teams for handing different insurances, then chatbot will send the user details to relevant departments as per the requirements of customers.
Scope of API Integration for Travel Chatbot
Travel aggregators can connect their chatbot with hotels, airlines, restaurants, and cab providers via APIs. This way, a customer can book a ticket, room, or a cab right from one window, without switching applications. Customers can also raise a query via chatbot or submit their feedback. This information can be shared with service providers in real-time, so they can take actions without delaying customers.
Scope of API Integration for Food Delivery Chatbot
Food Delivery Applications can integrate their chatbot with different APIs to empower the team and assist their customers. Like, by integrating chatbot with restaurant menu API, they can display food items of different restaurants right in the chat window. Moreover, Food Delivery Chatbot can also be linked to Google Maps API to get customer’s accurate location or assist them with tracking their order.
Popular Chatbot Integrations via APIs
Integrate Chatbot with Whatsapp Business API
Connect with billions of customers by integrating your chatbot with Whatsapp API. Automate repeated queries of buyers and handover the bot conversation to human agents when bot fails to answer a question. You can segment users based on their interaction with the chatbot. It can help in booking appointments, running personalised product marketing campaigns for interested users, send personalised quotation and offers, and take feedback of customers, etc.
Slack API Integration with Chatbot
Slack API allows you to automate internal business communications. Be it scheduling a meeting, enquiring about meeting specifics, or processing employees’ leave requests. You can also automate the tedious queries of your team members and assist them with the right solution without any delay.
Telegram Chatbot API
By integrating your chatbot with Telegram API, you can automate the monotonous business communications both with team members and customers. Like, you can send lead generation data to agents or take product requirements of buyers by asking them specific questions.
Hangouts API for Business Chatbot
Google Hangouts ease of access make it one of the favourite application for internal business communication. By connecting your chatbot with Google Hangouts, you can share customer support, marketing, and sales data on a single channel to multiple teams.
CRM Integrations with Chatbot via APIs
You can integrate your chatbot with CRMs like Hubspot, Zoho, Bitrix, Insightly, Salesforce, etc. via APIs to send and receive user data without any manual work. Once connected, a business chatbot can directly communicate with CRM, manage sales pipeline, automate customer service, or streamline website visitors data to team members in real-time. This can help businesses take necessary actions, connect with genuine buyers and sell products at scale. While on the other hand, CRM integration with the chatbot can help you deliver a top-notch experience to customers.
ERP Integration with Chatbot via APIs
Not only CRMs, but you can also connect your chatbot with Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP). By connecting your business chatbot with ERP software, you can automate the data entry hence improving the accuracy of financial data. Further, ERP integration can help businesses reduce reductant tasks like data entry, that depreciate the momentum of back-office employees. Resultantly, ERP integration with chatbot can enhance the decision-making process of enterprises.
Facebook Messenger Integration with Chatbot
Facebook, as a social media platform, is also growing as an eCommerce marketplace. This enables businesses to leverage FB’s chat-platform Messenger to connect with buyers and converse with them in real-time. You can integrate business Chabot with Messenger to automate the conversation with users, identify leads, personalize the conversation and run targetted campaigns for prospects. All the acquired data via Messenger can be directly saved to CRM by integrating your chatbot with it.
Shopify Integration with Chatbot via API
Shopify is a leading eCommerce platform and offers endless opportunities to businesses. By integrating your chatbot with Shopify, you can start real-time interaction with buyers and send them personalized offers. Buyers can ask product-specific queries to the chatbot and get a response without waiting for human support. In addition, from the customer’s viewpoint, they can track orders, raise a return request, or connect with the human agent for their specific queries.
WooCommerce Integration with Chatbot
So, if you have already built an eCommerce website using Woocommerce, and is looking forward to automating the customer queries, sales operations, etc. Then integrating your Woocommerce website with a chatbot can be the best option. A chatbot can assist thousands of buyers at the same time, make product discovery easier for them by collecting their requirements and filtering the products accordingly. By providing your buyers with relevant product suggestions, a chatbot can boost sales and revenue dramatically.
Integrate Chatbot with Voice Assistants via API
Personal assistants or Voice assistants are quite popular today, leveraging them to connect with potential buyers can boost your sales and revenue. By integrating your business chatbot with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home Assistant, and Cortana, you can promote products and services to potential buyers via conversational UI. A customer can ask queries, place order or cancel an order in just a command.
Before you Integrate Chatbot with APIs, Must Read API Integration Documentation
It’s highly recommended to read the API Integration Documentation before integrating your chatbot with an application. This documentation comprises of steps by step integration procedures, API functions and services, how to call services, and also includes the restrictions and limitations of API. By going through these points, you’ll better understand the scope of API wrt to the application you are integrating with the chatbot.
Is Chatbot API Integration Secure for Data Transfer?
Yes, they are. However, APIs should be free from all the vulnerabilities. Including this here are some factors that need to be checked before integrating and fetching data via APIs.
API integration is secure over HTTPS
In order to save your chatbot’s data from getting into the wrong hands, you should employ HTTPS products. HTTPS protocol provides secure communication over internet and keeps data secure while transferring. While sending data from one source to another it encrypts it so anyone without access can’t intercept and interpret it. HTTPS can help your chatbot stay safe from malicious devices and tools that can exploit the access.
To further strengthen the chatbot data, you should make use of API authentication. It is done to verify the users accessing information from the network. This security layer is highly recommended for Banking institutions. So, whenever a user access data, an authentication token will be generated to verify the credentials.
As chatbots are new to the world, the chances of human errors can be a major issue. Therefore, it’s important to train your employees with the right procedure to connect your chatbot with different APIs.
Chatbots, as the front of customer assistance, need to be integrated with the customer’s database. So, they can get and save user data in real-time. This heightens the need to secure your database from unauthorised access via chatbot. To do so, you can make use of Biometric authentication, session timeouts, behaviour analytics, etc.
Pick a secure chatbot
Above all, it’s important to deploy a secure chatbot that utilizes HTTPS protocol, secure database and complies with GDPR.
Keep testing APIs
APIs play a major role in data transfer between user-bot-organization. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to test APIs for vulnerabilities as any slip in APIs can result in miscommunication with your customers. While, in the worst-case scenario, a serious security-related vulnerability can compromise the user and organizational data.
Takeaway: Chatbot and APIs integration is the Next Big Thing in this data-driven world
Today, APIs have become an essential part of operating online businesses. By taking advantage of relevant APIs to enhance the productivity of chatbot, you can also optimize human resources. APIs can help your chatbot fetch user data from different applications. The same data can be employed to boost interaction with buyers.
With this, APIs can make human-chatbot interaction productive and seamless. API provides chatbots access to data from applications that aren't part of the chatbot ecosystem. For instance, an e-commerce marketplace can fetch email subscribers data from CRM to chatbot by integrating it with relevant APIs.
If your zing to know about this topic doesn’t stop here, we recommend getting in touch with Chatbot Experts for a personalised consultation. Simply click on the bot button on the right side, to drop us a line, and we’ll be seeing you soon.