17/11/2014

By Nick Galea, CEO, 3CX


In the past few years, business communication has rapidly developed from being a service to a smartphone app, and it is now moving to the web. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is the next step in this process. In a nutshell, this new technology gives users the ability to make audio or video calls through their internet browser, without requiring a plugin or the installation of any additional software.

Any connected device can be WebRTC enabled, which means every computer, tablet, phone and television can effectively become a Unified Communications device. In fact, analysts predict that WebRTC is set to become mainstream for all sizes and types of business in the very near future. It is estimating that more than 2 billion people and 6 billion devices are expected to use and support WebRTC by the end of 2019.

WebRTC is an open source technology supported by the World Wide Web Consortium that allows open standard browsers to communicate with each other and exchange audio, video and even data files using a simple JavaScript-based API. The WebRTC standard is gaining significant momentum and is currently fully supported by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera.

So how can smaller businesses utilise and benefit from this new technology standard?

For businesses, WebRTC goes beyond VoIP and web conferencing, and moves towards ultra-personalised real-time customer interaction for brands. It’s a huge business opportunity with far-reaching implications that can impact everything from customer service and engagement to sales and conversions.

With WebRTC, businesses can now communicate via the internet browser without dialling a phone number, or requiring a middleman, such as Skype. This also brings to an end issues of interoperability and compatibility as, with just one-click through the browser, a user can join a web conference and interact with multiple participants. From enriching a standard phone call with video to hosting webinars- these tasks can now take place, hassle-free, through the browser. In addition to audio and video calls, businesses can also offer screen sharing and classroom features for customers and staff alike.

Improve Customer Service with Click-to-Call
Business can also now offer WebRTC-enabled click-to-call to drastically improve their customer service. Early adopters have been using WebRTC for this purpose for a while, the popular example being the Amazon ‘Mayday’ button for the Kindle Fire.

For instance, imagine clicking on a website button and launching a call in which a staff member can discuss the product or service you were thinking about buying - a real person, in real-time, interactively showing you the features you ask to be shown. Businesses can also elevate a call to offer screen sharing so customers can be shown new products or offered assistance on the spot.

What’s more, by using multiple call button links, customers can be directed to the most appropriate team member for their enquiry. But don’t forget call buttons must be intuitive and well-placed on the website to encourage use and also businesses must ensure resources are in place to handle the call appropriately.

Besides improving customer service, WebRTC also offers businesses the ability to increase sales and conversion rates. With WebRTC-enabled web conferencing, it is now possible to visualise a sales pitch with a product presentation, saving businesses time and money on travelling to customers’ offices, and increases the productivity of the sales team.

Cut Business Call Costs
Businesses can also cut ongoing call costs. As inbound calls via the click-to-call function are effectively free, businesses can significantly reduce the cost of operating expensive 0800 number calls, which can really add up for a small business. As customers can now call for free with just one click, there is a greater likelihood that they will interact with your business.

Getting started
WebRTC-enabled technology is extremely easy to implement, in particular for those companies who use an open standards solution. A fully-integrated open standards solution is a popular choice for many businesses as it offers a one-stop shop for all their communications needs - this combines WebRTC-enabled web conferencing, click-to-call and an IP phone system. An open standards solution will give businesses the flexibility to mix and match their hardware, such as webcams and IP phones, to create the perfect communications solution for them which can then scale with the business.

In summary, WebRTC is a useful new technology standard for small businesses as it enables colleagues to communicate more easily and for customers to get answers quickly with click-to-call. As a customer service and collaboration tool it’s hard to beat. Add in boosted sales and reduced call costs and we are finally moving towards cost-effective unified communications for all.