The Value of Programmable Communications (During a Pandemic)

COVID Diary Day 172

This morning I woke up and put on a pair of sweatpants. I chose the navy today, though I own the same pair in 10 colors now. Worked for eight hours, ordered delivery food, purchased new wine glasses out of boredom, and called my bank to request a new debit card. Capped it off with a 'Friends' marathon. Ross is funnier than I remembered. End of log.

The above was literally what I did today, though it’s not dissimilar what I’ve been doing every day this summer. Many across the globe have experienced the same monotony in their day to day lives as we wait for some semblance of normalcy to return.

It got me thinking though about the power of communication during a pandemic. Many people are using video calls to connect with friends and family during this difficult time to stay sane. By increasing our dependence on eCommerce and on-demand services we are helping flatten the curve and reduce our exposure to a deadly disease. But what's interesting to me is how valuable programmable communications have become the past few months. To demonstrate this, I will go through the five things I did today and note the critical role programmable communications had in making them a reality.

1. Put on navy blue sweatpants

Ok, so I didn't need any fancy APIs to put on a pair of sweats this morning, but I mentioned I bought 10 pairs. I made this purchase from an eCommerce company that kept me in the loop the whole time. I received an SMS confirmation when I ordered the pants, when they shipped and when they were delivered. This vastly improved my customer experience and cut down on the support costs of both the company I ordered from and the shipping company that ultimately delivered the items. Instead of me calling and demanding to know the location of my soft, cotton sweatpants, I merely checked the text they sent with easy tracking. This could have even been done over RCS for a more premium, branded experience.

2. Ordered delivery food

No one transaction was more important to me personally today than the status of my barbacoa burrito. Fortunately, the on-demand services provider had programmable communications set up as well. Upon my order, I was provided confirmation and estimated time of arrival. When the delivery driver was here, I received a phone call from a masked number. This protected both my privacy and theirs. The result? A delicious burrito for me followed immediately by a 30-minute nap on the couch.

3. Purchased new wine glasses

I recently moved and have been in the market for some new wine glasses. My partner and I found some we liked on a marketplace and I requested more information. Today I received a call from the vendor and because the vendor was using CallerID Management, their name displayed right on my phone, therefore I answered (since I knew the call wasn't spam.) After hammering a few things out I placed an order through the marketplace's online portal and received an SMS informing me that in 5-7 business days I will no longer be drinking Pinot Noir out of Solo Cups.

4. Ordered a new debit card

I can neither confirm nor deny that I put my debit card through the laundry and ruined it, we’ll just say that I needed a new one. Today I called my lovely bank that has set up programmable voice and an interactive voice response (IVR) tree, to handle basic requests. This both cuts down on my bank’s support costs and improves my user experience. Instead of waiting on hold forever, I gave a few brief voice commands that triggered a new debit card to my home address. Isn’t technology wild? The bank even called back after the call with an automated survey asking how they could better serve me. My answer? Waterproof debit cards.

5. Watched a Friends Marathon

Ok, you caught me. It didn't take any programmable communications to get me on the couch watching Friends. I woke up this morning and just needed to know if Ross and Rachel were ever going to get together. After watching two and a half seasons today, I still have no idea. Maybe my streaming provider can send me an SMS notification and let me know.

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