Build a WebRTC Video Conference App for Your Small Business and Own Your Customer Experience

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build a webrtc video conference app for your small business

Ask yourself who is easier to please, a stranger or a friend?

Obviously the answer is a friend, and the reasons why are just as clear; you know a lot about a friend, you know their likes and dislikes, their sense of humor, at least a little about their past, and how much sugar they like in their coffee. A stranger’s likes are at best a guess based on some broad demographics and a little intuition.

However, as anyone who ever took a long flight seated alongside a stranger knows, the difference between the two is conversation. There are lots of coincidences and shared personality traits that show up once we get the chance to actually talk to each other.

In business, the shortest route from turning an uninterested consumer into a repeat customer follows the same formula–you’ve got to strike up a conversation. In the booming trillion-dollar market of online retail, you start that conversation with your homepage and your advertising, but you truly get to know someone over a face-to-face video chat.

And when the opportunity arises to get talking you don’t want any technical barriers in the way, which is why you need to build your own video conference app for your small business and own your online customer experience.

WebRTC Video Is the Online Equivalent of Impulse Buying

By now most consumers are so familiar with real-time online customer support they’ve come to expect it from their retailers and service providers. A recent survey found almost 2 in 3 consumers, and 80% of business buyers consider real-time responses from companies as standard.

With major web companies like Amazon, TurboTax, Walmart, and Bank of America offering real-time personal customer interaction, it has been estimated that 80% of online businesses will feature some form of live video chat by 2018. What’s more, video chat is clearly the current darling of social media with WhatsApp, Messenger, and even Tumblr among a number of tech giants to have added it to their platforms in the past 12 months alone.

While those are some big names equipped with some even bigger financial clout, real-time online customer video chat is within reach of every business, thanks to WebRTC.

WebRTC is essentially an agreement between the big browser companies, such as Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, to standardize real-time communications protocols and give everyone open access to their platforms. It’s so open, in fact, that anyone with enough IT knowledge to dabble in JavaScript can create their own video chat platform and embed it their own website for free.

While that is tempting for the medium to small business, it is also a quick way to frustrate customers if it’s not executed well. Instead, it is safer, and still very cheap, to have a WebRTC developer set the video stall up to your exact specifications.

Finding the Right Developer to Build a WebRTC Video Conference App

As with any service, from car repairs to healthcare, it’s important to select the right WebRTC developer. There are plenty of them around, including headline names like OpenTok right through to professional individuals, but there are several key questions to consider when getting into a partnership:

  • What has the developer done for other companies?
  • Do you want a one-off purchase or ongoing support?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Do they have a design team, or is it just a technical service?
  • How much involvement will the client have in development?
  • What sort of analytics are included in the service?
  • Can the developer create across multiple platforms?
  • How will our data be secured?

The goal is to create a personal service that caters for the size of your company and the expected burden of customer interactions, the integration of video services across mobile and desktop devices, and the security and integrity of customer and business information.

OpenTok, for example, provides a free app that includes unlimited one-to-one video chat, with costs going up to around $500 a month as it scales up to five simultaneous callers and on through to 50 and even 1000. That kind of flexibility means any business can establish a real-time link to its clients and start the getting-to-know-you conversation.

Real-Time Video Customer Experience

That conversation doesn’t have to begin just because something has gone awry, as is the case with the traditional telephone customer service model. It can be a way of conducting a transaction, with a live staff member on hand to go through all the nitty gritty at checkout, potentially saving millions in abandoned virtual carts.

It can be a way of assisting customers with modifications of products or explaining the variations between products. It can guide a customer from a general idea through to a specific purchase, such as turning a statement like “we need somewhere to stay in Miami in early December” into a hotel booking.

Or, it can be a way of letting potential customers talk among themselves in a hosted video chat forum, letting them share the common interests that brought them to your site and giving them further reason to return.

Thanks to WebRTC all of these possibilities can spring directly from a business’s own website. Once these online shopping strangers are engaged with conversation, they’ll become a lot easier to please.

Image Source: Flickr CC User Alan Clark

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