Consumers want options when it comes to interacting with retailers, service providers or financial institutions. While a voice call or instant message conversation over the Web to a contact center agent might still be best for resolving minor issues, some customers are starting to expect -- and even prefer -- face-to-face interactions for help with some of their more challenging conversations and questions.
CreaLog, a German systems integrator specializing in real-time communications services for telecommunications providers and contact centers, is using real-time media processing technology from Dialogic Inc. to provide WebRTC-based video to its contact center customers.
"Some call centers are realizing that some products are not easy to sell by phone only, and video could give the customer more confidence in their purchase," said Thomas Simoneit, a marketing specialist at CreaLog. "If you're buying something from a company for $50, you don't need that much trust and understanding, but if you want to go into a long-lasting relationship, like with an insurance provider, you better give the customer someone to see so there is more of a personal feeling in that relationship."
WebRTC video: Now integrated with the rest of the contact center
CreaLog, already a Dialogic customer, was using the vendor's technology in its call center offerings to enable features like interactive voice response with speech recognition, call reporting and speech analytics. The company knew that interest in video was growing, and adding a WebRTC video communication componant to its existing contact center offerings -- including voice calls, email, SMS and chat functionalities -- would be especially appealing to some of CreaLog's customers in the specific vertical industries, Simoneit said.
"We have a lot of contact center customers in industries where trust and personal contact is important, like those in the insurance [market] or financial industries," Simoneit said. "Video can add to that experience and make it more personal so customers have a better feeling for who they are working with."
CreaLog recently deployed Dialogic's PowerMedia XMS, a software-based media server that allows standards-based media and communications to be embedded into applications and integrated into existing communications infrastructures. The PowerMedia software, which can be deployed as a physical appliance or software instance, allows contact centers to offer a WebRTC-based video calling option, integrated directly into Crealog's multichannel contact center software packages, without the need for additional software or integrations by the contact center's IT team. The video integration allows CreaLog's contact center clients to have a better understanding of the caller's issues and what information they may have already volunteered.
Many contact centers getting their feet wet with video conferencing have noticed these platforms are often unable to tightly integrate with the rest of their call center features -- including other communication channels and performance monitoring systems, Simoneit said.
"Over the past couple of years, video [in the contact center space] has been a novelty and done through just browser-to-browser interactions, but we treat [video] as another call to the contact center, and get them right to an agent with additional information, so [the agent] can close the call more quickly," he said. "Our customers want [video] included in the routing process, so [they can] send calls to the appropriate contact center agents who have been trained and are ready to take video calls."
The PowerMedia technology allows CreaLog's customers to take calls using a communications channel like voice or SMS and then transfer and escalate the call to video within CreaLog's call center offering. This allows call center agents to see information about the caller, like the reason for their call or their account number, so it doesn't have to be repeated.
"We can not only route the caller to a suitable video-enabled agent but also to the person best suited to answer their questions," Simoneit said.
Dialogic's WebRTC technology is included in some of CreaLog's call center offerings, and if selected by CreaLog's clients, the PowerMedia software or hardware appliance is deployed in the call center's data center and remains on premises.
"Many of our customers -- like the financial organizations -- have high security standards and they don't want their customer interactions coming from a website, [going] to external servers and then back to their call center network," Simoneit said. "For these customers, it's important that all communications stays within their own boundaries."
This setup also allows CreaLog's call center customers to monitor performance of their video calls and they are able to see video performance in a consolidated view with the rest of their communication channels.
WebRTC-powered collaboration could further interest in contact center video
CreaLog's customers are still in the early stages of video conferencing, but Simoneit believes interest in face-to-face communications will grow within many contact centers as it as for other new modes of contact.
"Just like in the beginning with social media being added as a channel, contact centers were questioning whether [customers] would actually trigger a service request with Twitter or Facebook," he said. "And now, it's pretty standard."
For customers that may still be on the fence, collaboration via WebRTC could help to further video use in the future, Simoneit said. Content sharing alongside video could be a killer app for contact centers, especially for scenarios in which end customers are filling out online questionnaires or contracts, he said.
"Our insurance [customers] have told us that people can get lost when they fill out forms with fine print over a website, so being able to have a personal attendant that can co-browse with [the customer] and provide assistance through the steps could be a big advantage for some of these companies in doing business," Simoneit said.
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