October 19, 2020, 11:00 AM EDT
The ideas and technology underpinning today’s customer experiences
Published by: Florin Arghirescu, SVP at Synchrony
Originally published on LinkedIn. In addition to reading below, you can comment or share with others by clicking here.
A strong foundation
What defines a great digital customer experience?
You’re probably looking for something intuitive, something that anticipates your needs and is always integrating new features that keep you interested and coming back again and again. Something easy, fun.
Those engaging experiences require a great deal of work on the back end, which is what Synchrony has been doing since it split off from GE in 2014 – all the while, still powering credit cards and enabling commerce at our thousands of merchant partners and healthcare providers. We have built a modern technology infrastructure – moving the company to a hybrid cloud to provide cloud-based services, creating a data lake, and adopting AI and an agile methodology to facilitate faster and more meaningful innovations.
A thoughtful approach
It has been a top to bottom transformation. The good news is putting this modern technology infrastructure in place means we could take the next big step -- unlocking the power of the API economy. An API, which stands for Application Program Interface, is nothing more than an easy way to access data or services.
This is a simple yet incredibly powerful idea. APIs allow companies to pivot quickly and scale, which is key to long term growth. They help companies maintain a competitive advantage, move at speed and exceed customer expectations.
You can think of APIs like Lego blocks that can be assembled to create all kinds of solutions. Different companies can use the same blocks to build customized applications. Cloud and artificial intelligence just allows that process to be faster.
At Synchrony, we saw developing an API economy as a key step in our digital transformation, one that would help us provide our merchant partners and our cardholders with innovative, personalized services.
We focused our efforts on creating a holistic API strategy that includes the right technology, governance and activation.
Here’s how we did it. In order to be agile and consistent, the API transformation began with the need to standardize services that were being built across the company in an inconsistent manner. The increasing demand for new service creation and refactoring in turn exposed the need for a scalable way in which quality services were designed and deployed.
Innovation in action
While our infrastructure may be out of public view, the work it enables is consumer facing. The most recent example is the recently launched Venmo Credit Card.
As I’ve said previously, no-one has a monopoly on innovation; co-innovating is in our DNA. In working with Venmo, we prioritized what’s important to their customers. Venmo’s customers function as a community. They are a social group who share their experiences with friends and want them to be seamless and add value to their lives.
Our APIs coupled with Venmo’s technology enabled an intelligent customer rewards system, dozens of real-time alerts for peace of mind, and in-app experiences in the Venmo Credit Card. For example, Synchrony’s API library covers the full lifecycle of a customer, including applying for credit, purchasing on credit, loyalty programs, account servicing, and partner integration. With this new foundational infrastructure, the Venmo community of customers can track activity, make payments, and more, all without leaving the app. It was important to us to be able to create that experience.
The Venmo Credit Card is important for Synchrony’s digital journey, where we leveraged our infrastructure to build this product that democratizes financial services. If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that the world can change very quickly and the ability to adjust is critical to success. We have the foundation in place to build products like a child does with Lego blocks, using one from each pile to create a finished product. In a similar way, we scale solutions more efficiently and effectively to give consumers more choice while still enabling merchant partners like we always have.
We see the advent of the API economy as a game-changer. For Synchrony, it represents a dramatic shift in how we collaborate and innovate across-industries and with our partners. This transformation will be essential in creating an open banking ecosystem and democratizing financial services brick by brick.