Real-time communications are taking the business world by storm. Using technologies such as WebRTC, a standard that allows for browser-to-browser voice and video communications without the need to download anything, workers today are engaging in conference calls, brainstorming sessions, advice and “how-to” customer support, live service across distances (healthcare workers chatting with patients remotely, for example), and much more.
WebRTC has enormous potential when it comes to customer support. We’ve already seen it with Amazon’s innovative “Mayday” button, which launches a live video session with an Amazon customer representative across the customer’s Kindle device. Business-to-business companies are using it to sell, help customers make purchasing decisions, enable maintenance on complex products and use new technologies. Going forward, expect to see it used more heavily in the business-to-consumer world for complex customer support transactions that require watching an expert (using certain features on mobile devices, for example, or replacing a filter on an appliance).
One of the really groundbreaking potential applications for real-time communications such as WebRTC, though, is in marketing and advertising. Thanks to the Internet and the proliferation of mobile devices, companies usually know where customers are when they begin researching products and services. Location-based marketing is not a new idea, but when coupled with WebRTC, the potential is enormous. Customized live “commercials” that are personalized to a shopper’s interests could potentially be interactive, helping the customer find precisely the right buying information he or she is seeking, according to a recent blog post by WebRTC.ventures, a custom design and development company.
“The main focus of advertising is to interest the consumer in your product or service,” wrote the WebRTC.ventures blogger. “One way to interest consumers in your product is to give them as much information and interactivity with the product as possible before they choose to buy it. The key is to make ads seem like part of the application, and not blatant advertising. When a real time video communication component is added to the ad, it opens a whole realm of possibilities.”
Imagine a zoo putting a link to real-time video of baby animals to attract zoo visitors who are researching opening times on the Web site. Imagine a beach resort offering real-time video of the peaceful ocean waves, blue skies and waving palm trees in front of the hotel. Restaurants could allow surfing Web site visitors to watch chefs putting the final touches on appetizing dishes before sending them out to diners. From an even more personal standpoint, customers researching high-value items on a Web site could be offered a real-time chat with a product expert to help the customer make a choice.
Businesses today need to get personal with their customers. The days of mass marketing “one size fits all” messages are over…customers want much more than that. Using real-time communications to target appealing content to potential buyers is the next generation of customized marketing and support.