WebRTC: Bridging the Gap Between Contact Centers & Websites


WebRTC: Bridging the Gap Between Contact Centers & Websites

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  April 09, 2013

 This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of CUSTOMER Magazine.

The vast majority of people who contact a business start out by visiting the company’s website. Wouldn’t it be great if we could enable a more seamless experience between website and contact center -- and even collect information from the individual’s website visit so we can identify the person and track his or her behavior on the website, presenting that information on to the contact center agent?

That is exactly where things seem to be going, and a new technology called WebRTC can help us get there.

“WebRTC is a technology that lets developers build real-time communication into web pages,” writes Tsahi Levent-Levi, direct of business solutions at Amdocs (News - Alert) and BlogGeek.me blogger, in a Sept. 10 posting.

Phil Edholm of PKE Consulting LLC and UCStrategies.com, notes that organizations tend to have a website group and a contact center group.

“WebRTC is going to smush those two groups together,” he adds.

That will lead companies to a crossroads at which they’ll need to decide between old and new. That is, they’ll need to choose between WebRTC-enabling their existing contact centers and integrating WebRTC into their websites, or adopting entirely new interaction centers that integrate contact center and website functionality and natively support WebRTC.

The decision is not unlike the one businesses and service providers faced relative to their PBXs when IP came along five or 10 years ago. The question then was: Do we IP enable our existing PBX (News - Alert), or do we rip and replace, investing in a pure IP PBX. (One prominent IP PBX vendor notably commented that a legacy PBX with IP added in was like a racecar with a horse tied to it.)

The question organizations face today relative to customer service is no less important. It’s a huge decision because if businesses don’t understand the potential impact of WebRTC, they could end up in a bad position while the competition thrives.

“With WebRTC, it is easy to have every web page be an on-ramp to the customer service and interaction arm of an enterprise, with the added value of details about how that contact came to need that interaction,” says Edholm. “This detailed information can be used in two ways: to significantly enhance the effectiveness of the human interaction component by assuring it is optimized through the data gathered during the visit and form-based entries before the actual interaction. Secondly, detailed information about which parts of the website are generating the most need for human interaction can be used to further optimize the web experience, enhancing customers satisfaction and reducing transaction cost.”

Mike Lauricella, CEO of communications platform provider Plivo agrees: “Communications is really not its own thing anymore, it’s becoming a feature of the web.”

WebRTC, he adds, will give people an easier way into the contact center, bringing along metadata in the process. That way, those that interact with customers can see what an individual has in his or her shopping cart, and the pages he or she visited in which there was no purchase activity. As a result, customer service representatives will be better positioned to cross-sell and upsell these individuals, and organizations will gain a better understanding of where they need to improve their websites. Sites that leverage WebRTC also can simplify the launch of real-time communications beyond chat so customer service representatives can provide website visitors with additional information to make them more comfortable purchasing large ticket items online, Lauricella adds.

To learn more about WebRTC and its impacts on customer service, please see the Experience column (page 48) in the December issue of CUSTOMER, and the cover story in the December issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY (http://www.tmcnet.com/voip/1212/table-of-contents.aspx), a sister magazine to CUSTOMER.

You can also learn more about WebRTC by attending WebRTC in Atlanta from June 25 through 27 at the Cobb Galleria. Here’s a url at which you can find more information: http://www.webrtcworld.com/conference/

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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