Contact centers continue to evolve rapidly and a relatively new technology, WebRTC, promises to make it easier than ever to enhance customer support by enabling users of web browsers to support voice and video calling without downloading any client software.
How does WebRTC fit into the contact center mix? Here are four ways WebRTC will play out in the contact center space 2016:
1. Caller uses WebRTC from a website. When WebRTC was developed, most use cases focused around video conferencing (competing with Skype) and click-to-dial widgets for websites. The click-to-dial widget approach assumed that if surfers were already on a website and a channel of communication was already open, why divert users to another, external channel (the phone)?
While call widgets were relatively popular, adoption wasn’t particularly high because the feature was supported by only some browsers (Internet Explorer and Safari still lack WebRTC support) and users had to deal with laptop microphones which they rarely (if ever) used.
In 2015 the number of vendors introducing click-to-dial widgets did not grow as fast as in previous years, and it doesn’t seem likely that it will pick up in 2016.
2. Agent uses WebRTC to receive a call. The dominant use case for WebRTC in contact centers in 2015 was contact center agents using WebRTC to receive incoming calls. Users dial in and routed through a company’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to the contact center. Once there, instead of being routed to a physical phone or even a software client on the agent’s desktop PC, the call gets routed to the agent’s web browser. This means IT has fewer vendors and less software to manage and maintain, and it enables the business to scale out of the physical contact center by allowing agents to work from anywhere. This same capability can be used by an agent or a salesperson to “dial out” from the CRM system in their web browsers via WebRTC to user phones.
This became the primary use of WebRTC in contact centers in 2015. Companies like LiveOps, Zendesk and Freshdesk use Twilio’s WebRTC client to drive this connectivity within their CRM and helpdesk cloud services. Expect this trend to continue strong in 2016 and trickle into larger enterprises.
3. Call surfers targeted via analytics. When people browse websites, a lot of information is collected, like how long have they been looking at certain pages, where they are from, what they clicked, etc. Some vendors have taken this a step further. Instead of simply collecting this information and using marketing automation techniques to send offers to these people, they can initiate a call from the contact center to the person browsing, directly targeting high value prospects based on real time information. One of the vendors active in this space is Altocloud.
This is most suitable for sites where transactions tend to be of high value and agents are more sales oriented, rather than for service or support. WebRTC closes the loop. All the other technologies in play – the website, CRM and analytics – are already built over Internet technologies. So voice or video calling using WebRTC is a natural fit.
4. Calls via self-service applications with a WebRTC dial option. WebRTC is making inroads with mobile applications. Being an open source technology, WebRTC can be ported to iOS and Android and embedded within specific applications.
To some extent, this is how Amazon implemented Mayday – its video-based support service for the Kindle Fire. It is also what AMEX did to add video support from their iPad self-service application.
As more and more businesses add messaging to their self-service applications, more will adopt WebRTC to initiate mobile calls rather than reverting to toll free numbers. The main advantage: introducing useful context to the interaction which means reducing average handling time.
If 2015 was the year of WebRTC for contact center agents, then 2016 is going to be the year of in-app WebRTC for self-service contact center applications.
Why is this important? Contact centers are evolving. Many are shifting focus towards social networks and omnichannel solutions. WebRTC plays a significant role in this transformation by taking the humble contact center phone call to a whole new level by making it a flexible and powerful tool for businesses to engage with customers.
With businesses striving to maximize customer service and consistently improve the customer experience, WebRTC-powered contact centers will gather momentum as the ideal choice to make this happen.
Levent-Levi is an Independent Analyst and Consultant for WebRTC and the author and editor of bloggeek.me, which focuses on the ecosystem and business opportunities around WebRTC and IP messaging.
This story, "4 ways WebRTC will boost the power of contact centers" was originally published by Network World.