By Sascha Mehlhase, Flowroute, a West Company
Due to its convenience, personalized experience and real-time accessibility to consumers, the sharing economy model continues to flourish and shake up traditional industries. The popularity of the sharing economy is predicted to increase with consumer adoption of shared services forecasted to reach $335 billion in global revenue by 2025, according to a PwC report.
While ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber and accommodations services like Airbnb appear to be the most prosperous categories within the shared economy space, investors are also seeing opportunities in other new sharing arenas such as workspaces, storage, delivery, logistics platforms and even fashion. As these markets widen and become more diverse, the sharing economy will continue to change and impact how customers prefer to interact with businesses. The evolution of customers’ changing engagement preferences can be seen in today’s call centers and how businesses are adapting communication offerings to meet customers’ expectations such as real time and high-quality service, flexible communication capabilities and personalized support.
As a result of the adoption of the sharing economy, certain innovative technologies are increasing in popularity because of their ability to enhance this unique customer service model. Consider for example the innovation of WebRTC or Web Real-time Communication. WebRTC is a free, open-source technology that enables website browsers to easily communicate to each other in real-time, from any device.
The technology leverages communications protocols and APIs that enable real-time voice and video communication over peer-to-peer connections. The adoption of WebRTC within customer call centers continues to increase with the popularity of shared services as it provides features that enhance privacy, such as anonymized contact information in caller ID, and flexibility through use via the web or mobile applications.
Omnichannel communication or having unified communications across multiple channels such as social media, web and mobile apps, has provided customers with faster access and more convenient ways to contact businesses such as SMS, webchat, email and more. WebRTC supports businesses and contact centers streamline and consolidate this multichannel communication approach, making adoption of omni-channel strategies a reality. Below is an overview of the positive impacts WebRTC can have on today’s contact center providers and customers within the sharing economy.
- Enhanced security, especially for international calls. In the sharing economy, privacy and the need for anonymous communication are essential for the business providing the shared service, the contractor leveraging the platform for financial support and the consumers using the service. In the sharing economy, number anonymity creates a secure, professional barrier in the somewhat untraditional business models at play (i.e., Rideshare drivers or food delivery contractors who work via the app infrequently or in addition to other careers, etc.).
With WebRTC, the technique of “phone masking” will soon be a thing of the past because of the inherent privacy of VoIP calling. For example, rideshare companies like Grab and Uber are using WebRTC to replace phone masking with the feature of VoIP calling, which provides greater anonymity for both the driver and customer and can eliminate roaming charges if the customer is traveling abroad. In addition, WebRTC provides end to end encryption which allows secure communication between the two parties involved in a shared service.
- Increased cost savings. Contact centers can save money by leveraging WebRTC because it streamlines the customer support experience. The technology provides new features within the contact center world that help a call center agent more easily and efficiently solve a customer’s problem, thus saving both time and money.
An example of such a feature is screen sharing. By using the feature of screen sharing, an agent is able to directly see the issues that a customer is experiencing on their screen and solve that issue remotely. Another example is contextual numbers that help contact centers quickly identify the caller and diagnose a solution without having to ask a list of tactical questions. Such features like screen sharing and contextual numbers help personalize the customer service experience which offers improvements for both parties involved.
- Enhanced flexibility. In the quickly evolving world of the sharing economy, flexibility is key to business survival. Due to the ability of WebRTC to work across multiple platforms, businesses and call centers that leverage WebRTC can streamline and consolidate the various communication channels a customer has with a shared service business. For example, customers can contact customer service agents directly from the company’s website without having to install an additional application or use a different device. This adds convenience to the customer and also provides the contact center support representative with insight into where the customer is reaching out from.
- Improved call quality to elevate the customer experience. Enhanced audio quality in the contact center world is essential, both for a positive customer experience and to ensure the agent can effectively address the customer’s issue. However, enhanced audio quality requires sufficient bandwidth on both ends. WebRTC technology can provide better call quality for call centers and enhance the audio for the customer including HD audio.
Better audio quality can improve customer experience and support by minimizing unnecessary hold times the customer has with the contact center or by enabling the contact center to provide an improved interactive voice response (IVR) self-service through enhanced speech recognition. WebRTC also provides better precession for automated transcription, which enables agents to provide customers with a solution faster and with little friction.
As the sharing economy continues to disrupt more legacy industries and their customer interactions, it is important for all customer call centers including those that serve the sharing economy to continue to remain nimble. Utilizing innovative technologies like WebRTC will enable customer call centers to evolve and adapt to meet customers’ changing engagement and communication preferences while also upholding key service features like privacy, flexibility and quality.
About The Author
Sascha Mehlhase is the senior director of product management at Flowroute, a West Corporation company. He has more than 15 years of product management experience in software engineering and B2B SaaS platform development. Prior to joining West Corporation, Mehlhase was the director of product management at Motorola Solutions, where he was the strategic lead as the company developed software solutions for mobile broadband work-group communications. For more information, please visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/smehlhase/. You also can follow us on Twitter: @flowroute.