What is WebRTC and What does it
Mean for
Customer Service?

WebRTC technology

“WebRTC is a new front in the long war for an open and unencumbered web”– Brendan Eich, Mozilla CTO and inventor of JavaScript

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC stands for Web Real Time Communications . It is a transformative piece of technology that allows real time communications directly through a browser.

Without WebRTC, there needs to be an intermediary server between devices in order for them to communicate with each other. The one device sends the communication  to a server, and the server sends it on to the other device, meaning that for communication between devices to work, both devices need to have the same plugin-in or app installed. 

Skype is the perfect example - it is a great video communication tool, but it only works if all devices involved have skype installed. 

This can be annoying, especially in a customer service environment. WebRTC to the rescue! By taking out the server, WebRTC allows the devices to communicate directly with each other.

The capability is automatically embedded in a web browser so devices can communicate directly without any downloads or plug-ins. 

Supporting audio, video and data transfers, WebRTC allows for web calling, video chat, online messaging and screen sharing all from within a web page or mobile app.

WebRTC allows communication to be a feature, rather than a standalone product.

How does WebRTC work?

WebRTC makes use of 3 main Javascript APIs. Think of an API (Application Program Interface) as a machine-to-machine communication interface.

The 3 APIs are:

  • Media Stream: which acquires audio and video
  • Peer Connection: which communicates audio and video
  • Data Channel: which communicates arbitrary data

These APIs allow browsers to use and send audio/video/data to other browsers or endpoints.

One of the great benefits of WebRTC is that it is inter-operable with other voice/video infrastructure.

WebRTC technology

What does WebRTC mean for contact centres and customer service?

Broadly speaking, WebRTC reduces barriers to communication. From a contact centre stand point, WebRTC opens up huge possibilities for communicating with customers. 

Most major web browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox and Safari, support WebRTC, which means contact centres can offer customers more and more contact channels without the need for downloads. These include:

Web Calling

With WebRTC, customers can ring a company through their website. This is great for customers as they don’t need to leave a current web page to get in touch, and great for a contact centre as it provides more data on the customer journey. Plus, it is perfect for offering callbacks.

Web Calls

Video Chat

Before WebRTC, to video chat with a customer, both the agent and the customer would need to have a tool like Skype installed. With WebRTC, contact centres can have a live video call with customers directly through their website without any need for downloads or plugins.

Video Chat

Cobrowse

WebRTC shares data, video and audio, which means contact centres can use collaborative tools to offer further support to customers. Cobrowsing is the perfect example. It allows agents to see the customer’s screen in real time and annotate it, meaning they can help customers with tasks such as filling out forms or logging into an account.

Cobrowse

Web Chat

WebRTC enables a form of online messaging known as live chat. This allows real-time communication through a website. Customers send a message and agents can reply immediately. As WebRTC can be embedded in mobile apps as well as browsers, contact centres can also offer live chat from mobile devices.

Web Chat

WebRTC FAQs

We've answered the important question 'What is WebRTC?', but there are lots more questions surrounding this exciting questions! Let's take a look at a few of them now...

1) Is WebRTC secure?

WebRTC is safe and secure. All browsers involved in an interaction must agree to proceed before communication starts, and it will always ask permission before accessing a device’s camera and microphone. It also uses end-to-end encryption and Secure-real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) to ensure every session is secure.

2) What browsers support WebRTC?

WebRTC is the culmination of Google acquiring several technologies and releasing them as open source in 2011. Since then, it has been supported by the W3C, which is the international standards organisation for the internet.

Since starting life as a Google project, WebRTC has gathered support from all the major telecoms and browser vendors. Full support for WebRTC on iOS and Safari was announced by Apple in 2017.

Today, WebRTC is supported by all major web browsers, including Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Explorer and Firefox.

3) What is the future of WebRTC?

The true value of WebRTC is its ability to enable new, innovative communication solutions. As with any new technology in transition, it is the real world uses that will drive adoption.

Given the inherent advantages of the technology, it is not hard to imagine a day when WebRTC enabled communications solutions are proliferate. As VoIP calling and OTT apps increase, phone numbers are becoming less and less relevant.

Perhaps all contact centre communication in the future will be through a WebRTC powered website and app system.


How can WebRTC transform your contact centre?

From live chat to cobrowsing, book a free demo today to see what's possible with WebRTC and Talkative.