Love your online form - 5. integration

Simply put: an integration connects one system with another system so their data and features can be shared. Improving workflows with a 'simple' integration can have a huge impact on your business, lowering overheads, reducing repetitive admin and giving your company the ability to scale.

In today's digital world, integration is the glue that connects different apps and services together. If it weren't for integration, many modern-day online platforms and products wouldn't exist.

The ongoing opportunities for integrations to transform the way we do business are massive. Whether it be to increase efficiency or offer added value to customers, most businesses could benefit from a little more integration.

Examples

Let's look at a couple of simple examples:

1. Purchasing and paying for something online:

The payment form sends the customer's credit card details off to the bank via a secure integration. This goes on behind the scenes, so to the customer it's completely seamless because they never leave the storefront.

2. Completing a credit check as part of a loan application:


Traditionally when applying for a loan, the lender would complete a credit check after the application form is handed in.

Integrating the application form with an online credit bureau makes this approve-or-decline process instantaneous. The form simply passes the data that has been entered by the customer off to the credit bureau in a mutually agreed format and the bureau passes back its score.

Why Integrate?

Improved Workflows: by combining multiple processes into one, you cut down the overhead involved in switching between different tools or services.

Automation and Efficiency: repetitive data entry is eliminated when data can be sent automatically from one system to another. This frees up huge amounts of staff time to be better spent on activities that improve your business

Competitive Advantage: integrating with other services in new ways may give you a completely new product offering and create a point of difference. One well-known example is Xero, which was one of the first accounting products online to automatically pull in transactions from your bank accounts.

Better Experience: if there's something you're asking customers to do which you can do by way of integration, then do it and save them the hassle. Perhaps there's extra information you can pull in from an external service to help make their process easier? for instance offering a “signup with Facebook” integration will short cut the standard registration process by pulling in name, email and other details from the user’s Facebook account.

How Does this Apply to Forms?

Forms offer countless opportunities for integration that will add value and improve the overall experience. Here's just a few:

Shipping: Integrate with courier companies to offer real-time pricing right there on an order form.

ID Verification: Use ID verification services so that during your form process, you can verify the user in real time.

Map and GPS: Connecting to map services such as Google Maps and detecting the user location is a great way of working with location based input.

Address Input: Integration with address suppliers means that you can pre-fill addresses when the user starts typing, and validate it at the same time.

Social Media Integration: Giving users the option to connect their social media accounts can make sign-up processes easier for them and give you a stronger link to them as a customer.

SMS Integration: By connecting with SMS message gateway services, you could verify that a phone number entered on a form is real and belongs to the person filling in the form.

Integration is Everywhere

As more apps and services offer the potential for integration, opportunities are there to leverage them for customer-facing and internal business systems. And forms are at the heart of both.

Many opportunities are still untapped. The limiting factor is often the lack of expert skills required for implementation. However investing in an integration can pay off when it increases efficiency, improves user experience, and brings a competitive advantage.


Read more articles in this series;

Online Forms - a business game changer?

Love your online form – 1. validation design is critical

Love your online form – 2. affordance is everything

Love your online form – 3. make it mobile

Love your online form – 4. user experience

Love your online form – 5. integration

Love your online form – 6. tracking

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