Real Time Communications Featured Article

Live In-App Support Ties the Customer Experience into an Omnichannel Package

July 15, 2015

During the last decade, companies struggled to prove to their customers that they were “multichannel.” They offered a number of ways for customers to communicate with them: beyond telephone, there was e-mail, Web forms, chat, fax and self-help options such as FAQ lists and the telephone-based IVR. What these modes were certainly “multi,” they were completely isolated from one another, and quality of service varied wildly between channels.

Now that most Americans carry smart phones or tablets, multiple channels is a given. We might start with a Web browsing session and then escalate to chat or a live phone call. Interaction with a mobile app could lead directly to the contact center, and live voice calls can also be sent back to self-help channels or Web-based information. It’s no longer “multichannel,” it’s omnichannel, since these communications media must be integrated and interchangeable.

While customers like finding answers themselves, they want a live agent to be available to them when they can’t resolve their own issues. For many companies, this means a real-time communications (RTC) session in a voice call. Increasingly, however, companies are offering video as a means of communicating directly with a company representative. When Amazon first introduced its “Mayday” button on newer versions of the Kindle Fire, a revolution was started. Customers with questions could activate the Mayday button and be connected to a free video call session with a live agent within a matter of minutes. The world of customer support exploded.

Certainly, live in-app video support isn’t for every company. Many customers likely don’t need it, and in the long run, staffing to ensure that presentable agents are available at all times for live video calls can be cost-prohibitively expensive. But for companies that engage in a lot of volume, or require 24/7 tech support, live video chat could be a compelling competitive differentiator for many companies. For most companies, real-time text chat is sufficient, provided that the chat sessions are queued just like voice calls, and engaging an agent in chat isn’t an option that gets a customer shuttled to the bottom of the priority list.

The goal, of course, is to ensure that customers get the help they need with a human touch without ever having to leave the browser session or the mobile app. When customers have to log off simply to get live help from your organizations, chances are high that he or she won’t come back. The good news is that adding live support to a customer applications is easy nowadays. Developers can use a ready-made software development kit, or SDK, that to build direct, real-time communications support functions into their apps.

The end result is a truly omnichannel experience in which a customer can continue to browse, watch a video or engage a mobile app while at the same time receiving live support based on real-time communications (RTC) technology. It’s the next generation of customer support, and many of your competitors are already offering it. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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