Real Time Communications Featured Article

Real-Time Communications Necessary for a Comprehensive View of the Customer

January 30, 2015

If life moves faster today than it did decades ago, this is doubly true of customer service. Customers, once content to wait for a callback, an e-mail or even a letter in the mail, today expect instant resolution to problems and instant answers to questions. Once confined to desktop computers and wired telephones, these same consumers have the ability to engage in omnichannel customer support from anywhere and at any time thanks to their wireless devices. And they’re willing to complain loudly about any organization that doesn’t meet their expectations.

Web-based real-time communications technology first debuted with video gaming, but has now made the jump to many applications, including customer support. Texas-based telecom software company GENBAND recently took steps to move into this marketplace with its 2013 acquisition of Israeli company Fring. The goal of the acquisition was to allow telecom service providers to be able to offer text, voice and video chat technology to customers using the Fring service, called Kandy, largely so they can better compete with similar services from Skype and WhatsApp. Clients of the solution can help their customers communicate with businesses in real time, using voice, video or screen-sharing.

“Fring is one of the pioneers that helped change the way consumers communicate on-the-go and is perfectly aligned with our strategy to bring service providers rich, simple-to-use, mobile communications solutions,” said GENBAND CEO David Walsh at the time of the acquisition.

Many companies today are pursuing an omnichannel customer support experience and including mobile as simply one of the channels. Many analysts believe that this thinking is erroneous, since a mobile device is, by definition, an omnichannel communications device itself, for mobile Web, phone, e-mail, social media and mobile app. Mobile users also require experiences designed specifically for the mobile device from the ground up rather than a scaled-down version of the company’s main Web site. Usability, a real problem in mobile customer support today, needs to be improved radically.

As smartphone use continues to increase, analysts expect such advances to bring about a fundamental change to customer services, developing into a multibillion-dollar sector.

 "This is where we think the future of the company lies," said David Walsh, the chief executive of GENBAND, which has annual revenue of about $1 billion. "This project is going to be our fastest-growing product line."

Analysts agree. Customer expectations have risen to the point where consumers who aren’t offered a live, instant, multichannel mobile experience will flee to competitors, and companies that fail will likely get left behind.

"Real-time communication has become a focus of customer-facing organizations to get a comprehensive view of a given customer," Daniel Ives, of FBR Capital Markets in New York, recently told Reuters. "Speed and accuracy are integral, opening up a fertile market opportunity for vendors in this area."

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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