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WebRTC and Chat Will Change the Nature of Calls That Come into the Contact Center

August 05, 2014

By Tracey E. Schelmetic,
TMCnet Contributor

Once upon a time, the telephone used to be the number one choice for customers looking to resolve issues. This is becoming far less true today, particularly among younger customers. By the time a customer picks up the telephone today, chances are, he or she has already attempted to find answers on a self-service basis.

What this means is that contact centers need to build a bridge between the telephone and Web-based customer support methods. This bridge is likely to be in the form of WebRTC, or Real-Time Communications, a standard that allows browser-to-browser voice and video communications with no need to download any software or plug-ins.

“By employing such technology, customers will be able to easily reach out to your contact center agents through voice or video without leaving the comfort of their browsers,” blogged Shawnrene Keppel for Spoken Communications (News - Alert) recently.

WebRTC has the potential to offer a faster, more seamless experience that encompasses both the Web and telephone. Customers browsing the Web site need not log off and pick up the telephone to start a customer transaction from scratch, but can instead launch a phone or video session right from where he or she is on the Web.

Another area that is transforming the contact center from being a telephone only experience to a multimedia experience is chat, which has seen rising popularity in recent years. According to a study sponsored by Five9 (News - Alert) and conducted by ICMI, chat usage is up 24 percent this year, second only to voice communications.

“The popularity of live chat has been fueled by the proliferation of mobile devices combined with the rise of social media; most consumers, especially younger ones, are much more comfortable chatting online than they have been in the past,” Richard Dumas, director of product and solution marketing for Five9, recently told TMCnet.

“In addition, live chat provides an alternate, real-time channel to the phone that is less expensive per interaction, so it’s a win-win for the contact center and the customer. The trend that we're seeing is that the phone call will ultimately end up being an escalation channel for more complex issues.”

It has become instinct for many younger customers in particular to pick up the telephone only if they can’t resolve their issue in a more convenient channel such as chat or through an IVR system. Dumas says this will result in fewer calls, but the ones that do come through will be more complex and may involve multiple channels.

“WebRTC certainly has the potential of impacting the contact center, particularly in the area of video chat, but until the standard has industry wide vendor support, adoption will remain more limited,” he said.   

Edited by Stefania Viscusi