How Technology Standards Help Transform the Contact Center
January 28, 2013
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
, TMCnet Contributor
The contact center was once a physical place where calls were answered. Today, the contact center is more of a concept than a place, and the types of contacts agents take may be not only phone calls, but Web chats, e-mails, social media postings, Web callbacks and even communications via mobile apps. As a result, the call center more technology-driven place than ever before. This means that technology standards are becoming ever more important to call center operations.
Open standards, of course, provide a platform for interoperability of computer and network systems. They are nonproprietary and open to everyone, which provides a kind of programmatic freedom that attracts companies to leverage and embrace these open standards. With open standards, companies can extend product life, protect against obsolescence, and reduce development time and costs, writes West Interactive (News - Alert) in a recent blog post.
While the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is one of the most important standards bodies – it, of course, oversees the ubiquitous HTML standard that enables you to view most Web pages. There are also organizations like the IETF, IEEE (News - Alert) and ITU: these organizations oversee important standards like HTTP, Web services, and a number of standards critical to software and Internet business.
One of the most talked about up and coming standards that will transform the way contact centers do business is WebRTC, or “Real Time Communications.” WebRTC is a free, open project (though it’s still in development) that enables rich, high quality, real-time communication applications to be developed in the browser via simple Java APIs and HTML5. In essence, it’s a technology that will make it much easier to communicate over the Internet: it will allow consumers to use click-to-text or click-to-call buttons, video conferencing and other Web-based communication technologies with no need to first download an application or a plug-in.
Call centers and tech support desks may find the most benefits in WebRTC. It may largely eliminate the need for interactive voice response (IVR) applications, since callers can simply be routed to the correct departments or agents from clicks off a website. E-commerce customers could be serviced in a truly multimedia way without the need to log off a company’s website and pick up the phone, simply to have questions answered by an agent. It could also allow for easy face-to-face video communications between consumers and agents and helpdesk personnel, allowing contact centers to offer a truly personalized customer experience.
While we’re not quite there yet, stakeholders are still tinkering with the WebRTC standard. The general public can see a preview of it with the release of updates on two popular browsers: Google’s (News - Alert) newest version of its Chrome browser, as well as the newest version of Mozilla’s Firefox. It may take a little longer to come to contact center solutions, but the wait may be truly worth it.
Edited by Ashley Caputo