Click to Call: Why Businesses are Moving Away from the Dial Tone
It’s no surprise that click to call is rising in popularity. After all, how convenient is it when you simply tap a name to connect with a friend? Or even better, use your voice to initiate a call with a contact on your mobile?
The world’s most popular messaging apps are making it easier to communicate instantly, and they’re doing it without phone numbers. WhatsApp, which has around 26 million users in the U.S., doesn’t rely on a phone number to call, send a message or share a photo. Similarly, you can video chat someone on Facebook Messenger or Instagram without ever dialing digits.
One of the more popular protocols to make click to call happen is WebRTC. Apps like Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger use WebRTC as a means to communicate directly through a browser or mobile app. One of the most versatile features is that it doesn’t require a special plugin or download and doesn’t require phone numbers to accommodate voice and video calls.
With the rise of messaging apps and voice-powered devices, your customers will soon expect more streamlined communication from your business. While phone numbers aren’t yet going away, marketers should pay attention to the evolution of calling and to the rise of WebRTC, which offers several notable benefits for businesses. Replacing traditional phone numbers on your website with “call us” links can improve the customer experience while saving time and money and reducing robocalls.
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Browser-based communications technology like WebRTC allows your customers to contact you via chat, video call or voice call—all by pressing a single button. Recently, I appreciated having the video call option to get some remote care for my child when he woke up with a rash. The doctor was able to gather the information necessary to provide the right care by phone, and my son was back to playing in a matter of minutes. Different contexts call for different modes of communication, and the customer should be able to decide what suits them best at that moment without having to download an app or install software on their computer.
Shifting calls to the browser also makes it easier to tailor your customer’s journey from the web to the phone call. Technology like WebTRC gives visitor-level attribution offering context about why a customer is reaching out without requiring a ton of phone numbers. Browser-based communication makes it easier to understand the marketing channel that drove the customer to the site, the page they were on when they decided to call and— if they’re logged in— exactly who’s calling. This type of context is huge for both marketers and contact center agents because it provides the data necessary to deliver an optimal, personal experience to every customer.
Reducing phone numbers and bypassing the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) would also make it less costly to connect with your customers by avoiding carrier fees to connect your calls. Furthermore, instead of paying for equipment, like specialized software that powers a softphone or an actual desk phone, all of the functionality is moved to the browser.
According to a recent report by the call protection company First Orion, 50 percent of all phone calls will be robocalls by mid-2019. By eliminating or reducing the number of phone numbers your company has, you can cut down on those robo-dials and unwanted spam calls. Often the perpetrators behind these types of calls capitalize on small fees when routing through the traditional PSTN, so avoiding that path cuts off the money supply and the incentive to bombard your business with unwanted calls.
Of course, click to call isn’t taking over just yet. Some customers might not be familiar with voice or video calls in a webbrowser, particularly if they’re using a laptop or desktop. And, just under half of the households in the U.S. still have landlines and will continue to use traditional phone numbers to make and receive calls. It will be interesting to see how in-home voice assistants disrupt traditional landlines in the years ahead.
Phone numbers aren’t yet going away, so think of supplementing rather than replacing them. Give your customers more options for streamlined conversations by implementing technology like WebRTC in tandem with making your phone number easy to find. You’ll modernize your communications and prepare your business for the next wave of video and voice calling.
Lauren Harris is director of product management at Invoca.