Sales, Onboarding And Support In A Self-Service API World17 Nov 2014
I was reviewing an API over the last couple of weeks--I signed up for an account, came back several times, and made a handful of API calls in hopes of learning more about how the API works. This is something I do a lot, and it is always interesting to experience the on boarding process (or lack of) for APIs.
I first signed up about two weeks ago for this particular API, and within 48 hours I received an email asking if I needed help with my integration--that was nice of them. I like getting an email from the provider, and the more human it is, the better. At this point I didn't need any help, I’m just playing, learning, and depending on the self-service resources made available to me via the API ecosystem.
About a week later I get another email, again asking if I need help. At this point I’ve put down the API, but when I pick back up I might respond to the platform then, but I just have more learning to do before I have questions. Then about a week later, right before I was about to pick up the API again, I got another email asking me what my plans were, putting more pressure on me to share my plans for how I was going to be using an API, which I'm just not sure yet.
I am not your usual API consumer. I know this. However this API, I was actually planning on integrating into my core API tracking system at some point, so in addition to being the API Evangelist who might write a story, there is a good chance I will become a customer. I really like, and believe in the self-service nature of APIs, and while I like getting an email letting me know someone is home, I tend to be turned off by each consecutive email--nothing reminds you are in someones sales funnel, like a series of emails.
When you consider the touch points for your API on-boarding flow, make sure and think about the different types of users who will be registering, and the fact that not everyone will fit squarely in your perfect funnel definition. You want to make sure your API consumers know that someone home, and that you are there to help, but you really should rely on your self-service resources to get the bigger job done. Your initial email after I sign up should do this, then leave the next steps up to me, and be very thoughtful, and possibly dynamic with each engagement after that.