WebRTC in the contact center is the focus of the roundup in this issue of CUSTOMER magazine.
WebRTC is a disruptive new technology being driven forward by none other than Google, among many others. Already, WebRTC is supported on more than 1 billion endpoints, says Google, and Disruptive Analysis expects that to grow to 3.9 billion by 2016.
Not only does the technology enable browser-to-browser communications without the need to download plugins; it also simplifies application creation for developers on the back end. And the contact center, and customer interactions in general, are expected to be one area that will benefit from WebRTC. Here are a few examples of solutions that address this space.
AGNITY’s ACONYX Unify is a mobile contextual communications and collaboration solution that enhances the customer care experience while transforming the typical contact center delivery model. Built on the latest WebRTC and mobile technologies, it empowers video contact centers. Unify Web Smart Client embedded on any B2C website enables customers to have a video/audio call with contact center agents to seek assistance with their online purchase or support. They can do this using their regular desktop/laptop without needing to install anything or through their smartphones/tablets through intuitive mobile applications. Businesses may also place Unify-enabled video kiosks at self-service stores, ATMs, etc., to expand their customer service reach. At the same time, ACONYX Unify empowers Virtual Contact Centers – with virtual agents flexibly located at remote locations. Agents may login from their office desks, home offices, or even smart devices to deliver customer care. This facilitates hot-desking and is also very useful in multi-center multi-vendor environments. It can also be paired with AGNITY’s Call Center Routing offering – a core network-based application that automatically distributes calls to assigned users based on time, location, skills, IVR or percentage with support for call queuing. ACONYX Unify supplements agent capabilities with converged messaging (text, voicemail, videomail, fax) and multimedia conferencing. It is a high performance, open standards-based solution that helps deliver customer service and greater customer satisfaction.
Apizee develops WebRTC instant messaging, audio and video cloud communications solutions for integration in applications and websites. Telephony and videoconferencing are available from a web browser on any devices. IzeeChat is a contact center solution that handles WebRTC communication between web visitors and enterprises. This solution integrates an automatic chat distributor with several priority levels for agents regarding their competencies. The solution is able to address several sites on the same contact center, with agent distributions regarding priorities for these sites. IzeeChat is also able to address RCS/Joyn communication of mobile users with a WebRTC agent. The solution is proposed as a package, with several APIs to allow integration and customization to fit partners’ needs. The solution permits organizations to increase conversion rates on websites and help desks on mobile browsers. Features include presence, view pages, filter on pages, chat and pages history, statistics, several sites on the dashboard, enhanced automatic chat distributor with several priority groups, chat transfer, conferencing, and interactive whiteboard.
Enabling WebRTC application development for the contact center, AudioCodes has recently announced and demonstrated WebRTC Opus Codec support on the AudioCodes 400HD series IP Phones – a first in the industry. Expected to enable contact center and other knowledge worker applications for WebRTC and other existing SIP applications, IP Phones with Opus support high-definition calling from consumers to contact center agents without transcoding. AudioCodes also supports WebRTC enablement with the Mediant line of session border controllers, providing SIP over WebSockets conversion and codec conversion (transcoding).
BrowseTel (UK) Ltd.
The BrowseTEL Cloud Contact Center provides companies with integrated customer interaction management, combining the handling of all incoming and outgoing marketing campaigns through various communication channels (voice/video, fax, e-mail, SMS, web chat) on a single platform. WebRTC has not only added new communication channels where customers can initiate calls from a Click2Call button on a web page or by scanning a QR code on a product or promotional material, but has also added a new level of interaction where customer browsing history can enforce skill-based routing. An agent's busy scripts played when a customer is in queue have become interactive multimedia pages playing audio and video files, opening customer's supports forms, consequently offering much more information than voice announcements. High-quality video calls have brought another much more personal level of communication, which can be applied for more demanding services and customers. Screen sharing and co-browsing are other new features, which will help agents to solve customer problems on the spot where they happen. WebRTC has also brought an evolution to agent working places. They have finally moved to the browser environment, fueling the transition of a contact center to a cloud-based thin client architecture – lowering both deployment and operational costs while gaining security and quality of service.
The rapid evolution of WebRTC technology prompted young start-up companies to redefine the standards of the traditional contact center, integrating direct HD audio/visual communication geared toward the enterprise's most important part of CRM. Commodisee, however, has taken a different approach and brought the contact center down to the people, to the lowest fundamental level, small-independent store owner. Commodisee has introduced WebRTC capabilities to the contact center in its most fundamental form: HD audio/visual communication between buyers and sellers. By doing this, commodisee.com is becoming a centralized contact center for the small independent store owners. This new level of communication was achievable up until now by any other video chat software, but it has never been implemented in the retail world as well as Commodisee has implemented it. Combining WebRTC technology on top of the powerful Kamailio SIP server (with its presence module) allows Commodisee to bring shoppers both a private (one-way only video, no UserID or login) and easily accessible (no extra software installation required) experience. Finally, for a fraction of the price of a traditional solution, any store owner can have a HD live audio/visual contact center of his or her own.
DilogR is the new automated customer solution for the WebRTC age. It provides the same type of interactivity as IVR does for voice, but with the added benefit of pictures and video to deliver rich customer interactions that lead to satisfied customers and a reduced load on agents. DilogRs can be video, slides, or pictures and can be used as a standalone solution like a video FAQ or as a tool for agents to send/share with customers. DilogRs can be created and published in minutes and then distributed over web, mobile, and social to engage customers where they are, when they need it, on any device. Additionally, all interaction data is collected and returned to the admin so that you can learn which messages are resonating, which are most popular, and which need work. DilogR is a cloud solution that can be self-managed through the easy to use GUI, or DilogR can help you tell your story from script development to video production.
Flashphoner Web Call Server 3, aka WCS3, is a server-side software platform designed for two-way browser-SIP calls with WebRTC, Flash, and SIP capability. WCS3 is perfect for web call center deployment. It is not necessary for the call center operator to install, update, or configure any additional software. The operator simply opens a web page and is instantly ready to receive and place calls. WCS3 is fully compatible with existing VoIP equipment: no matter your current SIP/VoIP system, whether it be a commercial SIP switch such as Cisco or an alternative VoIP PBX such as Asterisk (News - Alert). Using WCS3, a user interface can easily be integrated into an existing web system, since the user page is simply a web page connected to WCS3. The user interface can be fully customized and adapted according to your business requirements. WCS3 supports two mainstream technologies: WebRTC and Flash, covering the most popular desktop and mobile browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, and Opera. Unlike the standard WebRTC peer-to-peer approach, WCS3 proxies all WebRTC calls through itself and then through your VoIP environment, enabling you to have full control over the call center based through Flashphoner Web Call Server 3.
Frozen Mountain Software
IceLink is a collection of libraries that enable developers to create reliable UDP media streams between peers, regardless of the peer's network configuration and environment. IceLink traverses every possible firewall/NAT combination to guarantee connection establishment. It uses IETF/IANA standards to provide the broadest compatibility with third-party components. IceLink includes a WebRTC extension for select platforms that implements the WebRTC standards for communication, including stream formatting, RTP/RTCP packet processing, DTLS key exchange, audio/video capturing/rendering, audio/video encoding/decoding, data channels, a full MediaStream API, and more. IceLink works in conjunction with any third-party signaling library (like WebSync, XMPP, or SIP) to perform an initial offer/answer exchange when setting up peer connections.
LiveOps, which provides cloud contact center and customer service solutions, is leading the adoption of WebRTC in the next-generation contact center. WebRTC, the emerging standard for browser-to-browser communications, extends LiveOps’ traditional customer service support by integrating real-time voice, text and video. LiveOps Engage, the industry’s first single integrated multichannel (voice, chat, e-mail, social media, and SMS) agent desktop, provides native integration with Twilio (News - Alert) Client to deliver a true virtual contact center. Brands are now able to manage voice calls directly from the browser – whether from a PC or tablet – with zero requirements for a landline, mobile phone or any downloads. With LiveOps Engage, brands can now significantly reduce their capital and operational costs by eliminating the need for expensive servers, software, landline and phones required by traditional call center technologies, all while enhancing agent experience and productivity. Best of all, brands can create and tailor call routing strategies to enhance their call resolution through advanced call management and dynamic business rules. Leveraging Twilio Client, LiveOps Engage provides brands with an opportunity to eliminate their legacy telephony infrastructure for an all-encompassing contact center in the cloud.
Net Medical is a multi-faceted, FDA-regulated medical company with six divisions, over 400 physicians and 400,000 cases completed yearly. While this solution is not a contact center one, it does address the customer experience. The company provides telemedicine programs for diagnostic and clinical medical services to mobile companies, urgent cares, hospitals, trauma centers, imaging centers, jails, nursing homes, corporate health departments, and out-patient medical facilities. The company’s WebRTC solution is an open source browser-based videoconferencing tool that allows organizations to set up users, groups and, subgroups with crystal clear, real-time, face-to-face web-based connections. Although designed specifically for the health care industry, where it significantly facilitates doctor-patient and hospital communications, other types of companies and organizations can also use the system. The company also provides the WebRTC Conference Switch on iPads, iPhones, and Android devices. Recently the company moved its encrypted cloud services to AT&T (News - Alert), which provides certified HIPAA guarantees. In addition some of the new features include easy to embed website software, echo canceling detection, push to talk microphone switching, improved reliability error correction software, optional FDA510k cleared Stethescope with remote readings within the WebRTC interface, and optional speech to text integration.
Nex Gen Bits LLC
NGVX, or Nex Gen Video Exchange, is a video calling server from Nex Gen Bits bridging together the world of WebRTC and SIP. It incorporates videoconferencing and streaming technologies, enabling deployment for contact center-based video collaboration applications. NGVX allows you to leverage the in-browser videoconferencing capabilities of WebRTC to enable seamless real-time video communication between customers and live support. This means your customers are given more choices for when and how live video or audio assistance can be provided, including multimodal and mobile devices. NGVX supports server side video recording, multi-party conferencing, and efficient high-definition audio to augment your real-time contact center offerings. Video support is available for WebRTC as well as native devices such as iPhones, Android (News - Alert), BlackBerry, and desktop clients. Leveraging the media engine of Nex Gen Media Server, it is capable of operating as an MCU, providing video interoperability and live video streaming services to a variety of devices. The software is open source and customizable for integration into your own proprietary contact center solution and architecture.
Solaborate is a social and collaboration platform dedicated to enabling technology professionals and companies to connect, collaborate, discover opportunities, and create an ecosystem around products and services. It provides technology professionals a central place with the right tools and services to collaborate in real time. Solaborate has fully embraced the use of WebRTC to provide real-time communication and collaboration tools to its users within the browser and free of plug-ins or software downloads. It delivers functionality such as: chat, 1:1 and group audio and videoconferencing – that includes an instant messaging feature to allow members to communicated via text and share rich media while on the call, in- chat file sharing – allowing users to communicate and share important files; and in-chat screen sharing – allowing users to share their screens with others exactly as they see it on their screens within the chat. This is a true unified virtual communication and collaborative space for technology professionals to gather to network and collaborate with co-workers, partners, and customers in real time.
Twilio Client leverages WebRTC to improve communications for thousands of users every day and power millions of browser-based calls for businesses around the world. Applications powered by Twilio Client include complete contact centers, browser-based conferencing applications, customer support tools, etc. Twilio Client provides a simple, standardized wrapper around browser’s WebRTC APIs, and if a browser doesn’t support WebRTC, it defaults to Flash. Our Twilio Client WebRTC implementation makes it easy to embed real-time communications into web apps, and connect them to other browsers or legacy SIP and PSTN networks. Many of our customers, such as Zendesk, Wix, Send Hub, etc., use Twilio Client in real production environments for their contact centers to improve user experience and productivity, reduce communications costs (as browser-based communication allow you to get rid of your desk-phone and telecom closet, saving on high licensing and support costs), and be always-on and globally scalable. Twilio has phone numbers in more than 40 countries, which gives on-demand scalability, and the ability to make calls worldwide. Twilio Client is part of the Twilio Cloud. So now you have access to features WebRTC can’t provide, including conference calling, call recording, and much more.
Weemo for Salesforce Service Cloud enables contact centers to deliver high-touch customer service experiences using live video. With Weemo for Salesforce Service Cloud, contact centers can emulate the in-store experience, increase conversion rates of complex sales, or quickly resolve problems that need visual assistance. The integration of Weemo into Salesforce Service Cloud is seamless for the agents and the customers. Agents access live video from their Live Agent console while routing rules are defined within the contact centers’ existing engine. Customers access live video from the company’s website or mobile app. No download is required to launch the video.
Weemo for Salesforce Service Cloud offers a variety of implementation options. Contact centers can give their customers direct access to live video via a click-to-video button or let their agents initiate the video during a text chat. Contact centers can also choose to implement two-way video or one-way video only. Weemo relies on WebRTC as well as other best-of-breed technology to make live video easily available to agents and customers on every browser and device at a global scale.
Edited by Alisen Downey