Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

New Standards and Strategies are Building the 'Omnichannel' Contact Center

August 22, 2013

As enterprises begin to absorb and digest the reality of the emerging WebRTC (Web Real Time Communications) standard, the potential for the technology to essentially reinvent the way people communicate within the enterprise and with customers seems nearly endless.

WebRTC will enable both voice and video calls to take place directly through browsers – sometimes different browsers—with no need for plug-ins, downloads, or extraneous applications. It’s a standard that will enable peer-to-peer communications and file sharing as easy as clicking a button that’s already incorporated into an existing WebRTC-enabled browser. Groups of people will be able to hold ad hoc meetings without using video conferencing software, and even contact centers can benefit greatly by talking to customers face-to-face. It’s yet another channel that will enhance an advanced “omnichannel” strategy for customer support or internal communications.

ContactCenterSolutions recently spoke with Rick McFarland, president and CEO of Voice4Net, about the potential for a number of emerging technologies, including WebRTC.

“[WebRTC] means we can take what was once a complex implementation in a cloud-based or premise environment and boil the process down to something as intuitive as opening a browser,” said McFarland. “Today’s sometimes cumbersome offerings like live Web chat could become much more efficient and effective with WebRTC. The agent and the customer can communicate browser-to-browser using any method they choose—voice, chat, IM, video, or others—without the need for confusing downloads. They should even be able to change methods during the session, for example, shifting from chat to voice and video when an issue warrants.”

As many companies strive to stand out from the crowd when it comes to customer service – absolutely necessary in a flat economy when consumers are close with spending – WebRTC will present enormous opportunities to attract, engage and keep customers.

WebRTC technology is an element of what many businesses are striving to build: a social engagement strategy that services the entire customer lifecycle, not just a series of transactions. To survive, according to McFarland, customer-facing companies will need to take that next step.

“Businesses need to graduate from being simple ‘call’ centers to diversely functional ‘contact centers’ that act upon various forms of electronic social inquiries,” he said. “They must embrace a larger communications universe, where voice may still be mainstay, but other means of contact will certainly become more pervasive. This strategy can position a company as a responsive, customer-centric leader that understands and embraces its customers’ inclinations toward social media, texting, IM, chat and various other non-traditional methods.”

With the technologies of old, the very idea of integrating all these channels and standards was a monumental headache. Today, multichannel solutions that embrace and enable WebRTC, social and mobile customer support as well as more traditional channels will help contact centers take that step toward becoming “omnichannel.”

To learn more about the omnichannel contact center, attend Rick McFarland’s session at next week’s ITEXPO at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 3:45 p.m. PT, McFarland will deliver a presentation on “The Next Generation Contact Center.”

Edited by Alisen Downey