Organizations tend to have a website group and a contact center group. But, in the future, it is very likely that many companies will move to integrate the two in an effort to deliver a better customer experience while at the same time lowering their costs. WebRTC is expected to be a linchpin in bringing all this together.
In the interview below Chris Vitek, president of WebRTC Strategies Inc. and a speaker at the upcoming WebRTC Conference & Expo in Atlanta, explains how and why, and what it all means for companies like yours.
What’s your background?
Vitek: I’ve been working in the communications industry for the last 30 years. For the last 17 years I have been an independent consultant in the contact center and unified communications sectors. I currently am a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants and a member of the Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (News - Alert). Additionally, I am the editor of www.STCblog.com.
What is WebRTC?
Vitek: Web real-time communications is a new, open source communications standard that is sponsored by Google with both the IETF and W3C (News - Alert). Specifically, it supports browser-to-browser communications via text, file transfer, audio or video without the need to download an app. It works on any device that supports a browser -- smartphone, tablet or PC.
Many people first visit a company website before reaching out to the same company’s contact center. Yet there is clearly a disconnect between website and contact center interactions today. How can WebRTC change that?
Vitek: By merging the web and telephony experience the context of a call to a contact center is greatly enhanced. Web browsing history, cookied data and information about the web page that was being viewed at the moment of connection can all be considered in framing the context of a call. IVR authentication and routing are not necessary for these calls.
WebRTC represents the opportunity to collaborate with customers in either the traditional web model or audio of video communications. This is the opportunity to enrich customer communications to make them more precise and anticipatory. Add to this the ability to use big data to formulate real-time marketing offers and talking points that support the customer’s needs. This approach can profoundly reduce mass media marketing spend and enhance customer loyalty by reducing customer effort.
One reason for the disconnect between contact centers and websites, I think, is that the contact center is a unique part of the enterprise run by a services team while the website tends to be managed by the marketing department. How can we overcome this divide?
Vitek: I do not think that this divide will be around for much longer. Marketing budgets in many enterprises dwarf that of the contact center operations. Once upper management understands that they can reduce marketing expenses by a greater amount than the contact center operations budget, these organizations will by pushed together very quickly. Currently, websites tend to map to data while contact center technologies tend to map to people. Creating a website mapping that is consistent for both will require the input of both the marketing and contact center operations.
How do you suggest companies manage the transition that’s coming between contact centers and web environments?
Vitek: Given the right approach, the transition can be smooth with minimal risk. The reorganization of marketing and contact center staff should be fairly logical. Many of these folks will have the same responsibility, but with newer, more functional tools.
From a technology perspective, there are at least six enterprise contact center product manufacturers that have plans to introduce WebRTC products this year. Additionally, there are at least 11 different manufacturers of media servers that already offer WebRTC products or are a software release away. WebRTC products will be ubiquitous by Q3, 2013 (about the time the IETF RFC will be ratified). The key will be to figure out which product fits your customers’ needs the best.
To Learn More About WebRTC at the WebRTC Conference & Expo June 25-27 at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi