Multichannel cloud contact center provider 3CLogic has rolled out a Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) solution in an effort to equip contact centers with an easier way to interact with customers via modern customer communication channels.
While telephony isn't going anywhere, WebRTC technology is emerging as an additional tool that allows contact centers to serve customers where they are more frequently interacting, through their browsers. It's a trend that 3CLogic has been watching, says Guillaume Seynhaeve, marketing director at 3CLogic.
"Most people have smartphones, and PCs are giving way to tablets," he says. "Most people shop and have other interactions through their browser, which includes talking to a contact center rep by hitting a call button or chat. WebRTC is basically a progression of those different aspects, but it's not necessarily at a phase right now where it's replacing traditional platforms."
Deborah Dahl, principal at Conversational Technologies and chair of the World Wide Web Consortium's Multimodal Interaction Working Group, agrees.
"WebRTC is starting to gain a lot of traction in the commercial market," she says. It's been around for a few years, but I think that people are now starting to see the value more, so that there are a lot more applications now."
3CLogic's president and chief operating officer, Raj Sharma, points out that it's easier to implement WebRTC into contact centers because its infrastructure is less complex. "We are betting that WebRTC solutions will only need a minimum of IT resources," he says. "We will be essentially onboarding customers without the need to go through IT."
The company is rolling out phase one of its WebRTC solution, which includes voice, chat, and email, and plans to add video in later versions. The solution is invisible in many cases to agents, as well as to callers, who can connect to agents by using browser-enabled click-to-call or click-to-chat features from tablets, mobile devices, or PCs.
The fact that WebRTC is still an emerging technology doesn't mean that voice quality isn't already up to snuff. "WebRTC sound quality is definitely better than telephony sound because telephony audio doesn't contain as much information as WebRTC audio," Dahl explains. "WebRTC uses a protocol called UDP (User Datagram Protocol) that can lose a little bit of audio information compared to HTTP, but I don't think people can hear the difference." And, Dahl adds, "UDP is faster."
3CLogic's current version offers a quick gateway that converts WebRTC to session initiation protocol, while still being able to use other solutions that the company offers. The second phase of the WebRTC rollout makes the application completely invisible. For example, if a client is using a CRM solution such as Salesforce, SugarCRM, or Microsoft Dynamics, WebRTC will run in the background. Customers will still be able to handle WebRTC calls coming in from WebRTC-enabled browsers. In the third phase of the offering, due out the third quarter of this year, the application moves from an agent desktop and is run in the cloud along with the company's other software. This gives contact center reps the ability to use mobile devices and handle calls that are coming in from smartphones or Web browsers.
For some 3CLogic customers, such as financial institutions, WebRTC may not be a good fit. Some clients might not want their information in the cloud, and want to have more control over their data for security purposes. In that use case, the customer would stay with the company's downloadable software application. In other verticals, such as retail, using WebRTC and telephony is a better combination, allowing contact centers to switch back and forth.
"With the adoption of WebRTC, we're not moving away from our current platform," Seynhaeve says. "WebRTC is an additional option that will be made available for those institutions for which it makes sense."
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