SOCAP International

WebRTC—The Final Frontier for a Truly Globalized Contact Center

The need to better manage customer interactions over multiple channels will drive contact centers to a pervasive, unified true cloud solution.

The concept of a global “always on” contact center is nothing new, but with the introduction of cloud computing and the hot topic of WebRTC (browser-based, real-time communication), there’s a change in the wind. Since the early 2000s, companies have taken advantage of the benefits of VoIP (voice over IP)—agents were able to work from home and calls could be routed across the globe for 24/7, follow-the-sun customer service strategies.

The Internet also enabled businesses to service customers around the world, and the “anytime, anywhere” approach allowed brands to reach entirely new audiences, cultivate limitless fan bases in every country and successfully service those customers to ensure loyalty and build customer lifetime value. However, the integration of voice and Internet as VoIP into the call center was just the foundation for a globalized contact center. With the cloud and development of WebRTC, the contact center is now able to fully realize its global potential.

Global Infrastructure Consolidation

By 2008, cloud computing had taken Silicon Valley by storm. Thanks to the cloud, companies have been able to completely restructure their data centers, store data remotely and provide employees—on any continent— real-time and anytime access to that data. Global brands are able to reduce costs because duplicate infrastructures are no longer necessary and fewer employees are needed to oversee operations management. Furthermore, those tasked with managing operations have a holistic view of the data center rather than just pieces of the puzzle.

These capabilities are particularly crucial for contact centers and customer service agents. Through the cloud, contact centers have become scalable, agile and more efficient. With a cloud infrastructure, agents are now able to access customer information and history within seconds, regardless of location, giving them the knowledge to serve customers quickly and effectively. A cloud platform allows a network of locations on multiple continents to be controlled as a single contact center, simplifying management and reducing costs. This real-time visibility also allows companies to scale to meet the needs of their customers and route incoming customer inquiries intelligently across all available agents; whereas an on-premise contact center’s automated call distribution (ACD) solution is unable to scale because of its centralized processing architecture. This outdated approach dramatically increases complexity, costs and management requirements.

Through the cloud, contact centers have become scalable, agile and more efficient.

Benefits in the Cloud

Early adopters recognized the potential in the cloud—cost effectiveness, agility and accessibility—and quickly integrated it into their infrastructure. This was especially true of companies offering business solutions or service as a product. The cloud transformed the contact center and provided the opportunity to make it a platform for a superior customer experience and a brand differentiator.

These early adopters had the foresight and understanding of the cloud that has enabled them to exploit the power of the cloud when it comes to scaling workforces and managing customer service operations on a global stage. The pervasiveness of the cloud enables anyone, anywhere and at any time, the ability to connect and access valuable data.

“When we originally moved our contact center to the cloud a few years ago, it was primarily for cost effectiveness and for our own disaster preparedness planning. After experiencing some serious storms, it was imperative for us to allow team members to work from any location when needed and remove any technology investments and associated risks from our own physical location. Moving to the cloud was the answer,” explains Matt Poplinski, support services director at Daxko.

An always-on and on-demand platform enables brands to think and see globally at all times. More specifically, brands benefit from scalable, skills-based routing and near-real-time visibility into activities, processes, agents and contact centers around the world. A cloud platform empowers business operations staff to quickly route calls to agents at any of the company’s numerous contact centers around the world that have the appropriate product expertise needed to assist the specific customer, which reduces call time and need for repeat calls. In addition to individual call routing, should the business occasion arise, contact center managers have the ability to immediately and seamlessly transfer several calls from one location to another. The cloud has also allowed for brands to easily ensure service standards are being upheld because they have the ability to automatically record all incoming calls, store them in the cloud and have them ready for playback immediately from any location.

Furthermore, a cloud contact center allows for intelligent routing capabilities that further cut overhead costs. Intelligent routing enables brands to prioritize calls and identify a customer based on the incoming phone number or other information provided by the caller and route him or her to the most appropriate agent for a particular issue or product, or even to an agent with whom there has been previous interactions. This allows agents to build relationships, improve satisfaction and minimize call time, as well as the need for repeat calls. The results are reduced costs and increased customer lifetime value, which both lead a larger bottom line, but more importantly, greater customer loyalty.

It’s the cloud’s omnipresence that allows any company to successfully operate on a global scale. Any brand’s goal is to ensure its customers are provided with superior service, regardless of time and location. With VoIP and the Internet, remote agents became a possibility and a reality. With the cloud, remote agents can service customers just as well, and at times, better than a brickand- mortar facility. By utilizing the cloud’s flexibility, agents in contact centers around the world are able to connect to a single platform and support a customer base that spans the entire globe.

A fully integrated, multichannel-plus-social desktop gives everyone access to data in real-time on a single screen.

Multichannel and Multimedia Integration

Although voice calls are still the most popular means of contacting a brand, customers in growing numbers are choosing to interact with brands on multiple channels. Generation Y— the fastest growing audience and potential pool of customers—are communicating with each other and brands on social channels. The expectation that a brand must respond and proactively communicate on those same channels has been established, whether a company wants to do it or not.

“Social and mobile are rapidly changing the industry. As a result, there is tremendous opportunity and new revenue upside for brands that know how to leverage their contact center agents and multichannel technology platform,” says Natalie Petouhoff, Ph.D., CEO of Social Business Builders. “We found that when agents have a fully integrated social, multichannel desktop, they can not only improve their productivity by 50 percent or more, they can also deliver exceptional social customer service with a high social-media ROI.”

Ironing Out Issues

Contact centers have specific challenges providing consistent levels of service across all channels. They can include complex integration of media channels, management of multiple applications at the agent desktop, and accurate, consolidated reporting on service levels on each channel. In some cases, the solution has been to operate separate centers dedicated to handling particular media types. The result is multiple centers across wide geographies with no consolidated management reports and duplicated infrastructure.

An always-on and on-demand platform enables brands to think and see globally at all times.

All too often, a customer will attempt to contact a brand across multiple channels—phone, email, chat, SMS and social— in an effort to resolve a single problem. On-premise centers may have all channels on a single screen, but if a company hasn’t migrated its contact centers to the cloud, it’s more likely these messages are handled by different centers, with each center managing one or two channels, and could very well be located in different countries when dealing with a global brand. The result is a set of multiple and different responses to the same customer, potentially leading to confusion, conflicting answers and customer-perceived poor service.

However, a fully integrated, multichannel-plus-social desktop gives everyone access to data in real-time on a single screen, which enables agents to service customers through any channel. Social media is a powerful tool for consumers, and agents must be equally armed to meet the customer on any and all channels.

“Agent experience is directly linked to delivering superior customer care across multiple channels. As such, it’s imperative that businesses focus on empowering their agents with tools that help them easily access unified multichannel information,” says Omer Minkara, research analyst of contact center and customer experience management at Aberdeen Group. “Best-in-class organizations enable agents with the ability to handle multichannel customer interactions through a unified agent desktop on a single screen. These unified agent desktop tools enable increased agent productivity and improve customer satisfaction results by 39.9 percent year-over-year.”

The Future With WebRTC

Traditional contact center systems are based on independent voice and data networks. With the rise in globalization, the need to better manage customer interactions over multiple channels will drive contact centers to a pervasive, unified true cloud solution. Additionally, the high costs of managing two networks (voice and data) and developing computer telephony integration applications for multiple contact centers will provide additional incentive to move to a single network.

WebRTC technology, combined with the cloud and building upon the foundation provided by VoIP and the Internet, is making a single network a reality and is the next step toward optimized globalization. WebRTC is a browser-based telephony technology that eliminates the need for expensive servers, software, landlines and phones required by traditional contact center technologies. Integrating WebRTC technology with the cloud optimizes the globalization potential for a contact center. This solution amplifies the power of a cloud contact center through a single browser interface that functions without plug-ins or physical infrastructure, allowing for increased agent productivity, greater ability to enhance the customer experience and, ultimately, improvements in customer lifetime value.

In addition to the potential for increased revenue through happy, reliable customers, combining WebRTC with the cloud will result in significant costs savings, not only due to increased productivity, but also on a physical level. Companies will no longer need to invest in or maintain expensive telephony infrastructure or pay the high telephony costs charged by traditional voice carriers.

“Most current interest and initiatives among IT professionals that I speak with are focused around leveraging the ability of WebRTC to improve engagement with customers,” blogged Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Numerates Research. “By embedding ‘click-to-call’ or ‘click-to-video’ chat capabilities directly into a website, companies can increase the ways they can engage with their customers.”

While the globalization of the contact center may not be a new topic, technology has finally caught up with the idea and businesses are now able to transition to a true cloud contact center without the limitations of walls, complicated networks or infrastructure. WebRTC and the cloud have transformed the capabilities of the contact center and the customer service industry as a whole.

Contact centers have become and will continue to become even more streamlined, cost-efficient and productive than ever before. Moving forward, agents with WebRTC-enabled devices will be able to help customers on any channel—including voice. The next stage in the globalization of the contact center is here, and it’s even more capable of delivering consistent and extraordinary customer service, regardless of country or location.

McFarlane_KeithKeith McFarlane, CTO of cloud platform and telephony at LiveOps, is responsible for developing a contact center platform architecture that meets current and future needs of LiveOps customers and moves the organization towards its overall vision. McFarlane has more than 20 years of experience designing and developing large-scale contact centers and CRM systems. At LiveOps, he has fostered an environment that encourages innovation, enabling LiveOps developers, partners and customers to contribute to the platform’s growth.