Summer 2013 33
riction Sur Shop, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, hasouttted its sta with iPads equipped with Apple's Faceime(a video-calling soware application or supportedmobile devices) to connect online shoppers with in-store reps.Decker Dreyer, the company’s managing director, summed upthe benets in an article on RetailCustomerExperience.com:“We could beat them [competitors] on our home court withexperienced sales reps that know our products and live thebrand,” he said. “When you dial into Friction you don’t just get acustomer service call center, you get guys who represent, in every way, what our products are about. We’ve ound a way to expandthe hip little indie shop eel into online retail.”
For many years the limitations of the public Internet made videoconferencing a mostly internal communications tool. Andeven then, getting a quality connection between two locations withinthe same company could be a problem. But recent advances in VCtechnology, camera and computing hardware, as well as the reliability of the public Internet have eliminated many of these hurdles.
Business rst enjoyed the increased impact, productivity,trust building and connectedness o visual communicationswith internal colleagues through B2B communications. (Formore detail on B2B, please read the companion piece to thisarticle.) Companies have since realized these same benetswhen using B2B VC with partners. But when it comes to theirmost important relationships—those with their clients—mostbusinesses still rely on the telephone.Even i all the issues acing B2B (security, interop, rewalls, dialplans, experience) were completely solved today, it wouldn'tbegin to address the number one problem blocking B2C videoconerencing: the act that most consumers don't haveproessional, business-class videoconerencing equipment intheir homes. However, most consumers have a computer thatcan at least support an acceptable videoconerencing experiencealong the lines o Skype and Faceime.Businesses can connect to the customer's computer in two ways:
t gs C:
Most o the current soware-based, business-class videoconerencing solutions include some orm o guestdesktop client. ypically a user within the company can sendan email invite to a customer that includes a link to install theguest client and join the meeting. Te power, exibility andease o use o the guest client make the dierence between agood B2C and a great B2C solution.
iop Coc VC:
Very ew typical consumers haveaccess to proessional business VC, but everyone can easily access Gtalk and Skype, and soon, WebRC (please seeour article on WebRC in this magazine or more details).In act, hundreds o millions o people already have theseclients installed. New B2C services oer cloud-basedmeeting rooms, which can connect to these consumersolutions, as well as traditional business solutions. hesenew services are built around the concept o connectinganyone, anywhere, anytime.
Business Models and Applications
Friction Sur Shop isn’t the only business out there doing B2C.Several high-prole Wall Street banks are running pilots withB2C services, including installing telepresence displays in banksto connect customers in the local branch to product specialists.Tese initial programs generally provide “high-touch” service tobig clients, but they’re expected to serve a greater set o bankingcustomers as they grow. Te real power benet here is the ability
telePreSenCe teCh’S kiOSk OFFerS eye-COntaCt FOr a COmFOrtaBle Call with the remOte agent.