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Aircall’s app marketplace is growing every month. These new and versatile phone integrations are the results of like minded companies who choose to build on top of Aircall’s voice platform.
But in order to understand our partners’ needs, we wanted to walk a mile in their shoes and build an app for our own marketplace using Aircall’s Public API.
This was our experience.
What’s a Good App Idea?
When it comes to the types of apps we can develop, the possibilities are limitless. In fact, our team can get pretty competitive about coming up with creative app ideas. (Just look at these hackathon projects from during one of our team offsites.)
Suffice to say, when brainstorming app ideas, volume is never really an issue. In fact, our developers are no strangers to thinking of new innovations on a moment’s notice. The main challenge is to find an idea that’s helpful, technologically feasible, and widely relevant.
To help guide our process, these are the main requirements for creating a great app:
1. Be familiar with APIs and Webhooks.
2. Have a “go-to market” plan.
3. Keep the end user in mind at every step.
As our partners already create and sell great software that connects with Aircall, we wanted to showcase some creative, abstract ideas — ones that wouldn’t compete with them in any way.
And so our goal was to create an app that could be used by any of our customers — as opposed to something that was connected to a specific tool. Also, we decided to rely on our Public API so third-party developers could access it easily.
Keeping the user and distribution in mind, we agreed that whatever we made should reflect the following principles:
Something users would enjoy using
Enhancing (and not hindering) workflows
Super simple to understand and use
Purpose would be universal
Would be free
With a consumer-first mindset, we thought about how everyone’s phone calls could be improved, in both professional and personal conversations.
Introducing: The Weather
While brainstorming cool new app ideas could go on for days, weeks (or even years) we knew that impactful apps need to serve a useful purpose, or else they’ll never become a reality.
Customer experience is a top priority at Aircall, so anything we develop needs to make the call agent’s life easier.
Call center agents are some of the most proficient multi-taskers around. Whether they’re making inbound or outbound calls, they’re continuously briefing themselves on caller history, noting complaints or problem areas, and making split-second decisions on how to assist customers.
Scripts are a useful tool for guiding brand reps, but to truly deliver an amazing customer experience, personalization is paramount, and it needs to feel natural.
When it comes to universal small talk, nothing beats the weather. Nearly every smartphone comes with a weather app pre-loaded. Our team wanted to bridge the gap between business phone systems and this functionality by creating an app that would automatically display the weather in the location of the person you’re speaking to.
A weather app fit all the parameters for being useful, user-friendly, and accessible. Using Insight Cards, we already had a way to display the information in the Aircall phone system. We thought it could look something like this:
Consensus was reached. We agreed that a weather app was the most worthwhile development we could pursue. That said, we needed to do a bit more research to get this project into production.
Project Management 101
From a design standpoint, we identified the exact tasks that would take the project from start-to-finish:
What API endpoints will be used?
How will users authenticate it?
What other external services will we need?
What product decisions do we need to make?
Produce design mockups
Establish a timeline
Once we mapped out these tasks, it was time to start building.
Commence App Construction
Since this project was, in essence, a way to show other developers how to build on top of Aircall, we decided to open source the codebase and share every secret.
We used the following tech stack:
Web framework – Express
DynamoDB for the database
Docker containers running on AWS’ ECS
(For a more detailed breakdown, here’s a step-by-step guide on how we built the app)
So long as the weather information can be extracted from a call, the app will automatically create and send an Insight Card to the Aircall user. At that point, the agent will see the customer contact information in a pop-up window, complete with weather information below it.
Now, rather than place a customer or prospect on hold while reviewing their information, agents can engage in casual conversation about how great the weather is (or whatever reality may be).
Positive customer engagement, voila.
We asked our world-wide team to test the app for a few weeks, and their feedback was both instructive and positive.
“Weather info is great, coupled with a Wikipedia link to the customer’s city is even better!”
In terms of production and quality-assurance, it’s a best practice to test any apps locally before going live. The easy way to do this is using ngrok to generate a public URL. By testing the app, you can be sure that it’s working correctly, easily installable, and that users can easily acclimate to it.
The Big Launch (and Reactions)
With everything in order from a technical standpoint, we needed to name our app.
Tech people aren’t historically known for their creativity, so we decided to keep it simple and call it Weather, by Aircall.
As for the logo, we kept the graphic “A” from Aircall’s brand icon and placed it over some relaxing clouds, with Aircall’s brand-specific Neon Blue in the background. Ensuring consistency within our overall design scheme is important for building a consistent brand.
We also wrote a short descriptive listing in Aircall’s App Marketplace, just like our other partner-created applications and integrations.
So far, Weather, by Aircall has performed well beyond our expectations. It gained 100+ downloads in the first month, making it the most popular Aircall app over that timeframe.
Plus, the user-feedback has been very gratifying:
“This feature is great for engaging with our customers and personalizing the conversation.” Logan Christensen, Manager of Operations at Cozy Earth
At Aircall we encourage other developers to build their own applications by using our Public API. To assist in this process, we created a dedicated website for developers to create the future of voice together.
Curious to learn more about our core product Aircall? You can sign up here for a free demo.