I had no clue how to start this, so I went asking Wikipedia for help on Omnichannel. Here’s what I got:

Omnichannel is a cross-channel content strategy that organizations use to improve their user experience. Rather than working in parallel, communication channels and their supporting resources are designed and orchestrated to cooperate.

In layman’s terms, omnichannel is about being able to reach someone on their own terms.

If you’re here at Smooch, you know a thing or two about omnichannel messaging. It’s about maintaining a single conversation with users across any digital channel — be it a website widget, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat… you get the message.

Notice though that Wikipedia mentions “communication channels” and not simply messaging. There’s a broader view here than the asynchronous experience of messaging. That view includes video and voice.

If I had to make a quick comparison of the two channel types (voice/video and messaging), I’d get to this table:

Messaging Voice/Video
Conversation type Asynchronous; back and forth communications Synchronous; real time
History Stored; available to all sides Transient; here and now; sometimes recorded or transcribed, but usually not easily accessible to both sides of the interaction
Concurrency Single agent; multiple customers Single agent; single customer
Automation Chatbots IVRs, call queues and voice bots
“Legacy” channels SMS Phone calls
Modern channels Social chat apps; using IP messaging WebRTC; embedded in websites and apps

A few things to remember:

  • Different people prefer different modes of communication
  • The same person may prefer a different mode of communication for different types of
    interactions, such as support versus purchasing, for example
  • We want to be where the customer feels more comfortable
  • This isn’t an either/or decision. You can (and should) do both

At the bottom right part of that table? I wrote WebRTC.

WebRTC is an HTML5 technology that is available in all modern browsers. It enables web pages to incorporate voice and video communications (and much more). You can learn more about WebRTC here.

In our context, when someone is chatting with you on your website through a chat widget, you can “escalate” that chat into a voice or a video call — and things will be smooth. This is true for people sitting in front of their PC or on the go with their mobile device.

There are several added benefits to such an approach:

  • When text isn’t enough, we can easily move to voice or video, without sharing phone numbers, or getting stuck in a contact center’s call queue. Less friction = happy customers
  • Since this “lives” on websites and the internet and not on a separate telephony network, it makes it easier to store these conversations under a unified customer profile.
  • WebRTC also allows things like screen sharing, which makes it easy to troubleshoot or see things that are otherwise hard to share in a chat
  • If the customer is using some other channel to communicate with you, be it SMS or WhatsApp, you can still send them a web link to join that voice or video call with you

For you Smooch customers out there, rest assured that while Smooch is focused on “messaging” today, they recognize how real-time and synchronous channels like WebRTC are part of a complete omnichannel strategy (just like how they currently integrate with email)

Look out for when Smooch starts unifying voice and video transcripts into their existing conversation timeline so that businesses can have a unified, structured repository of all of their conversational data… let your AI feast on that!

In the meantime, check out this free report - WebRTC for Business People - it will get you up to speed with what other businesses are doing with WebRTC.