Starting a new business takes a lot of work, so there is great value in keeping things simple whenever possible. One technology tech-savvy startups are using for simple and inexpensive business communications is WebRTC.
WebRTC stands for Web Real-Time Communications, a relatively new standard for voice and video communications championed by Google and now embraced by much of the tech industry. The open-source protocol enables video, audio, and file sharing through any modern desktop or mobile web browser, and it eliminates the need for proprietary software or platform-specific plugins.
When WebRTC is integrated into your website or mobile app, a click-to-call button is created. Where all users have to do is click or tap it, and within seconds a video window pops up, connecting them to who’s on the other side. Who pops up depends on how your business wants to implement it. It could connect customers to customer service, connect employees to other employees to collaborate through, or even users to other users to communicate with.
Google Chrome and Firefox currently support WebRTC right out of the box, and Microsoft should be supporting it soon. Apple’s Safari doesn’t yet support WebRTC, but users of that browser can redirect to a plugin that fills the gap until Apple gets on the bandwagon. By the end of 2016, there should be 4.6 billion devices that support the technology, according to tech consultant IDG, largely because WebRTC is so easy to use.
Ease of use is one reason your startup should be using WebRTC to connect with remote workers, partners, and customers via voice, video, or chat, but there are many other reasons. Here are six:
- Boosted Sales and Customer Service
WebRTC has the potential to revolutionize customer service because it makes connecting with a customer care representative easier than real-time web chat and more personal than calling on the phone. With WebRTC, customers can click a button on your website or mobile app any time they have a question and will immediately be connected to a representative who can see what issues they’re having with your product, give them guidance, and answer their questions. Since this is all done visually, their problems or issues are solved much faster, alleviating any frustration that can occur when customer service is only done via voice.
By using a visual video medium sale’s will also benefit. Sales people will be able to, in real time, show off the advantages of your product or service, something a pre-taped video can’t do. While you’re showing off your product, your sales people can answer customer questions and build rapport with them, as if you were there with them, making sales easier and more convincing than ever.
- Mobile First Support
Currently, 11.3 percent of all web users only use a mobile device for browsing, according to ComScore. You read that right: More than a tenth of all users don’t use a full web browser at all. Further, eMarketer reports that 51 percent of all digital media use now runs through a mobile browser, compared with only 42 percent for desktop and laptop browsers. Every year for the past eight years, this percentage has further tilted in the direction of mobile browsing.
Startups must optimize for mobile first, because that’s how customers engage with websites. Because it runs on a standard browser, WebRTC helps startups engage with customers on any device, and an increasing number of apps are embedding RTC leveraging SDKs and cloud services. Just like while communicating on any mobile device connectivity issues can arise, since the strength of the signal and the amount of bandwidth can vary depending on the cellular network being used. According to Tony Zhao, the CEO of video chat company Agora.io
“This can be addressed by using a global RTC network provider that provides reliable real-time connections through intelligent routing of data from networks that are experiencing heavy traffic to networks that that have more bandwidth available, on the fly and in real time. So, communications are always clear and no data lost, meaning no more choppy, hard to understand video calls”
When developing for mobile users, your business must take into account all aspects of what your customer may experience to ensure a quality experience. If the video quality is poor or cuts out, your customers will get frustrated and they won’t want to use it anymore.
- Improved Employee Collaboration
Startups often rely on a distributed workforce, but connecting those workers can be a problem. WebRTC does this seamlessly, boosting morale and collaboration.
While there are many video collaboration options for startups, the simplicity of WebRTC makes it a grab-and-go solution that makes it easy for employees to connect; all it takes is the click of a button to connect them with their colleagues. As with customers, a quality video stream is key. If things look weird or skewed, and there’s an inaccurate presentation of what you’re collaborating on, then the final product may as well come out looking incorrectly, making the focus of quality and clarity paramount when picking a WebRTC SDK to integrate into your collaboration platform.
- Stunning Simplicity
Startups currently have two main methods for video conferencing: they can choose an over-the-top commercial solution such as Skype, a cloud option like GoToMeeting, or they can invest in hardware-based unified communications solutions such as Microsoft Lync.
The cost and deployment complexity make hardware-based unified communications solutions ill-suited for startups, and over-the-top options suffer from the logistical issue of users having to toggle back and forth between applications to assemble address books, passwords, and more before getting everyone logged into the same system.
WebRTC, but contrast, is simple and easy to use: Click a link, and the video-conference begins. This game-changing simplicity is exactly what busy startups needs.
Not only is it extremely simple to use, it’s easy to integrate into your website or mobile app as well. It only takes an addition of a few lines of code to seamlessly implement WebRTC features into your platform of choice.
- Added Security
VoIP and unified communications platforms tend to not be nearly as secure as we think they are because they use Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) for calling. Although RTP can be secure, it is challenging to set up, which often results in improper security and many VoIP and UC solutions choosing less secure connections out of practicality.
WebRTC delivers proper security out of the box, and comes standard with Secure RTP. Not only is WebRTC less costly and easier to use, it also is more secure than most other communications systems.
- Reduced Cost
Time is one of a startup’s most precious resources, perhaps second only to money. Cost is one of the best reasons to embrace WebRTC.
WebRTC can also save your startup the cost of software integration and training sessions given its ease of deployment and use. When paired with a service that connects WebRTC to traditional phone lines, it also can supplant the need for business phone service.
Overall, WebRTC offers compelling benefits for startups, from ease of use and cost savings to better sales and customer support. Maybe that’s why it is becoming the top choice of so many startups. WebRTC may be new to you, however it’s something to take a serious look at when figuring out how you want to communicate to your customers and collaborate with employees. Have you considered implementing WebRTC features into your startup?