How APIs simplify the verification of customer identities, massively reduce the time required for this and lower costs.
Author: Amancio Bouza
API specialists from Swisscom and ipt help companies with digitisation processes and the associated cultural change. Here they explain how they do it.
A large Swiss insurance company noticed a low conversion rate on its online portal. In a workshop with API specialists it became clear why so many potential customers drop out during the registration procedure: The verification of customer identity and addresses takes far too long.
Andrea Zulian, Product Manager Swisscom (left), Amancio Bouza, Senior Consultant ipt (centre) and Kay Lummitsch, Head of Business Development Swisscom (right) tell how they developed a smart digital solution for the company within two months that massively simplifies and shortens the registration process.
Kay Lummitsch: We didn't have to think back and forth for long, but delivered an alpha version of the API solution for automated identification to the insurer immediately after the workshop.
Andrea Zulian: With «Identities», our API product, it is possible to immediately verify whether the identity that someone has entered into the web form is actually correct.
Kay Lummitsch: We do not give out customer data. We only say: The identity is xx% correct. We can compare this with the Swisscom data. Amancio has formulated an algorithm that calculates this value. Of course it can be defined individually from what percentage on the value is relevant for the verification.
Amancio Bouza: With the API prototype, we had something concrete in hand and were able to continue discussions with the insurer based on this: How well does the API solve the customer problem? Did we understand the actual problem? Does the API offer the right value?
Andrea Zulian: Swisscom and other telecommunications providers are trusted authorities. Our information has a very high data quality. Of course, customer verification is only carried out with the explicit consent of the end customer.
Kay Lummitsch: The insurance company was able to try out the alpha version. And the specialists at ipt have continuously improved it so that it perfectly meets the client's needs.
Amancio Bouza: The whole thing went back and forth three or four times. At the same time, we were working on another project and suddenly thought: Hey, this could be useful for the insurance company as well. We introduced it to the product managers and software architects. They were thrilled and said: This is exactly what we need!
Amancio Bouza: The legal department was a challenge. When you offer APIs, it's about data, it's about customers. Often you forget the relationship with the legal department and legal aspects, limitations, but also opportunities. The direct and early involvement is essential for an agile collaboration. We have a good and direct relationship with Legal and received necessary change proposals for API product success and their okay within hours.
Andrea Zulian: The whole thing took about two months, from idea to product. In Swisscom's API tribe we work in small squads that function like start-ups. We take customers' problems and develop solutions quickly and easily. Using our Lean Product Management methodology, we develop products from these solutions.
Kay Lummitsch: We create new solutions on a new level of thinking, user experience is part of it. In this case, this meant: How can we advise the insurance company to design its website in such a way that it becomes totally easy for the end customer to conclude a contract. We have developed a technical tool for this with the APIs, but more importantly, we also share the experience we have gained from our digital journey with a wide range of clients.
Amancio Bouza: Swisscom has a great deal of experience in this area and can offer data - with complete data security. Together we help companies on the road to digitalisation. We develop innovative and pragmatic solutions. The new focus is not on planning security. Instead, our focus is on the relevant problem. To this end, we take a lean, «try and see» approach so that we can quickly validate problems and solution approaches with the customer. Life is too short to develop something that nobody needs.
Kay Lummitsch: When we started with API management 2.5 years ago, ipt took a bold stand and actively supported us in this pioneering work.
Amancio Bouza: Together with Swisscom's API Tribe, we are really breaking new ground, taking into account the changing conditions in the business.
Andrea Zulian: There are no boundaries, and we encourage future customers to adapt their business models and play an active role in shaping digital change.