Gary Audin and Douglas Green

Gary Audin and Douglas Green | February 21, 2014 |


Is WebRTC Good for Your Contact Center?

Is WebRTC Good for Your Contact Center? Though WebRTC holds promise, t is not a given that adding WebRTC to the contact center will be a profitable development.

Though WebRTC holds promise, t is not a given that adding WebRTC to the contact center will be a profitable development.

At many presentations discussing WebRTC, the contact center is one of the environments where WebRTC is expected to shine. It will shine because it potentially could provide a more satisfying experience to the customer. The customer can easily initiate a voice or video chat with an agent. The capability will be a part of their browser, and it's free to use.

The questions for the contact center implementers are:

* Is WebRTC a good opportunity for me?
* How do I develop a WebRTC strategy?
* Is this real now or in the future?

There are already hundreds of millions of WebRTC-capable browsers installed worldwide. This huge installed base should not be confused with WebRTC adoption success, however, as it can stimulate invention but does not guarantee actual usage. There also are still many technical challenges to overcome, such as video codec support and most importantly, interoperability.

WebRTC Must Meet Business Needs
Doug Green, publisher of Telecom Reseller, recently presented at a conference about WebRTC. Doug's presentation was called "Economics of WebRTC," an economist's viewpoint. Doug focused on the business decisions relating to adopting WebRTC. According to Doug, WebRTC has to deliver one or more of these goals:

* Make money
* Save money
* Save time
* Improve experience (the one area most commonly associated with the contact center)

WebRTC can be a labor-saving technology. Through its collaboration capabilities, agent labor can be more strategically deployed. It can reduce the time required to complete tasks, which can be done today--though mostly with more expensive solutions. WebRTC promises to deliver these capabilities at a much lower price and to a greater number of organizations.

Good for the Contact Center
One WebRTC focus is on improving the contact center experience. Doug felt that WebRTC can be an excellent sales delivery mechanism. It will be most useful for high value transactions. It can also help with complex customized sales or services such as for medical and scientific devices and healthcare. Use of WebRTC can better retain the high-value customer.

The ability to initiate a voice and later a video chat with an agent while accessing a website, should help retain that customer. The chat can mitigate problems the customer has with the website, and the ability to chat may also increase the number of customers willing to try the website. They always have an exit to talk to a person.

The voice/video chat may improve customer retention and loyalty. That's important because it is much less expensive to work at keeping the customer happy than trying to recapture the customer when the contact center experience is poor.

Downside for the Contact Center
Over the past decades, the number of contact center agents has been limited. The use of Interactive Voice Response and artificial intelligence has maintained, and in many cases reduced, the number of agents required to service an expanding population. So will WebRTC help the agent staff numbers go down, or will they have to expand?

Doug and I think the number of agents and the accompanying contact center budget will increase with WebRTC use. Costumers will be more willing to enter a voice chat rather than continue with a website that they don't like.

In addition, exploring video chat brings up new problems:

* Contact center agents will have to dress better.
* Agents cannot have visual tics like stroking their hair, playing with something like a toy, etc.
* They will have to be trained to be visually pleasing.
* The customer may be more likely to be able to tell when he or she is dealing with an offshore contact center, and this may affect the nature of the interaction. * It is likely that video chats will last longer than voice chats, tying up the agent longer.

The end result of adding voice and video chat to a website will mean an increasing agent bill and probably higher pay.

We can speculate on customer behavior, but we cannot be sure that the addition of WebRTC will have a commensurate increase in profits or reduction in cost. It is not a given that adding WebRTC to the contact center will be a profitable development.


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