A Proposal For Web-Based Customer Service Communication

Zhigilei, Vasil, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Neeley, Kathryn, University of Virginia

Consumers typically have a variety of communication channels to choose from when seeking to contact a customer service representative. The most common channels include email, chat messaging, and phone calling. If there are to be proposals for additional channels to be developed (as will be proposed later in the included technical proposal) then there must be a better understanding of what sort of communication customers already prefer out of the existing channels. In addition, the broader exploration of how typical customers prefer communicating in their day-to-day lives and their impressions of these methods is examined. This process can assist in the analysis and proposals of new potential channels that businesses could provide their customers with.
The motivation for this topic comes from experience interning at a company dedicated to the development of communication software for businesses. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to become more technologically literate in regards to using technology such as webcams and microphones. These two factors inspired a proposal for a new method of communication between customers and customer service representatives, however the non-technical feasibility must be explored first. Such a technology should be aimed at not only being attractive to businesses (for potential reasons such as lower cost or ease of use), but importantly should be catered to the customers, since the customers make up the general population. In order to ensure that the quality of life improves from a given technology it is important to consider side-effects and ethical considerations of the proposed technology. From an STS perspective, I am applying the framework of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT), a theory and methodology that contends that rather than technology determining human action, human action shapes technology. The idea behind this research is to research whether society needs or could need a new communication technology and build it if the need is shown. This follows the SCOT theory form of human action shaping technology, as communication channels are created and further developed based on user demand or perceived convenience. Communication technologies fail when no one uses them. It is important to explore existing user preferences for customer service communication channels in order to better predict whether a proposed new technology would be viable and worth exploring.
For the technical aspect of this paper, I am proposing a new channel of communication between customers and customer service representatives. This channel would be a browser-based voice communication plugin built into websites, enabling customers to call a given business from the comfort of their internet-connected device of choice. This proposed plugin offers certain advantages over existing technologies such as phone, email, live-chat, social media, and more.
The proposed approach introduces numerous benefits when compared to the existing methods of customer-business communication, especially telephone calling. These include higher audio quality, the ability to communicate without reliance on cell service or a landline, the ability to call from any internet-enabled device with audio in and out, cost savings for the business and customer, the ability for the customer to log voice interactions, and more.
Existing grievances with current channels can be alleviated due to the underlying software technologies to be used in the implementation of this web-based voice communication channel. Advantages from other systems such as the convenient and brand-customized experience of live-chats can be learned from and incorporated into this proposed approach.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
WebRTC, CCaaS, Customer service
Issued Date: