WebRTC World Feature Article

December 06, 2012

Can WebRTC Change the Holiday Customer Experience?

The holiday period is unlike any other – the food, the social gatherings, the traditions, the TV specials and seasonal radio stations, the lights and, of course, the presents.  But before any gifts can be wrapped, given and opened, they must be purchased, which means a visit to a store, either physical or virtual. Either way, the miracle of Christmas presents an opportunity to deliver a positive customer experience – or something less.

When shoppers head off into the mall, department stores, and the virtual world of cyber-shopping, there is a very reasonable chance they will require some form of assistance, either to locate a product, determine availability, or even help decide which is the most appropriate alternative. Unfortunately, because of the masses of shoppers, they often find themselves having to wait their turn before getting assistance, at which point they are already likely to be frustrated, simply from that experience.

But, there’s an opportunity for retail outlets to bring technology to the fore of the experience, turning frustration to satisfaction.

In the online world, many retailers have already integrated a live chat into their virtual experiences. But, often, chat becomes lengthy and difficult, especially in today’s mobile world, where shoppers are making purchases on their smartphones or tablets. So, why not provide chat agents the opportunity to move into a voice session to allow a more comfortable interaction and speedier resolution?

If you were in San Francisco recently for WebRTC Conference and Expo, you saw some of the many ways this new technology can be leveraged to simplify communications and extend capabilities to any browser-enabled device with a single click of a URL, eliminating the hassle of remembering or looking up a phone number and dialing. WebRTC is also an ideal opportunity for customer service organizations to quickly move from chat to voice, simply by sending a link to a WebRTC session via text to the customer, who can, with a single click, be connected with the same agent in a voice session. Now, the agent, who has already had an introduction to the customer’s concerns, can quickly and easily engage in a more intimate conversation, resolve the situation, and the customer can move on to make the right purchases.

Now, move into the physical retail environment. WebRTC-enabled sessions – with either virtual or live agents – can also be leveraged to eliminate wait time. Companies have for years been using 2D barcodes to deliver information to customers – they scan the barcode and are taken to a Web page with product information, offers, registration, or other features. The same barcodes can be used to create links to WebRTC sessions, connecting customers to agents that can assist them with their shopping needs, even placing orders for products that can be picked up at the front of the store within minutes (not unlike the store pickup option that many retailers provide online today).

In fact, outlets that truly want to provide a ubiquitous opportunity across all channels can bring the same WebRTC technology to the TV ad experience as well. Many have started to use Shazam, the music identification service, to deliver a barcode-like experience through the television. They can use the same technology to deliver WebRTC session links to viewers who would like to speak to a customer representative to receive more detailed information or even to purchase products.

Delivering an enhanced customer experience has become the focal point of business operations and has become the differentiating factor between success and failure. WebRTC provides customer service organizations an opportunity to engage their customers quickly and easily, creating a more versatile and less frustrating experience. Implementing these capabilities will most certainly require additional service staff, which is common during peak periods throughout the year, but with the cloud-based communications and contact center services, seasonal representatives can easily be brought on to handle increased demands, such as during the holidays.

I spoke with Vidtel CEO, Scott Wharton last week about the potential of WebRTC. Vidtel announced support for the technology in its universal gateway at WebRTC Expo, allowing businesses to bring their communications capabilities to any browser.

“We love the idea of WebRTC for B2C calling,” Wharton said. “Businesses have rolled out UC infrastructures but they have limited options for communicating with the end users. WebRTC can be implemented in the browser and is very simple and usable, and it can be customized and branded, making it a great application for call centers.”


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