WebRTC JTBD: Reducing End Customer Friction

September 7, 2014

Never underestimate friction – no matter how small.

This is another post of my WebRTC JTBD mini-series.


Friction is super important. What got me to decide to write this weekend posts, and specifically this one is a post I read on TheNextWeb by Paul Sawers – on viewing habits with Chromecast:

The word ‘friction’ isn’t really a word I would use to describe watching content on my PS3. However, it does take at least a minute or two longer to boot it up, navigate my way to the correct app, find what I’m looking for, and hit the play button. […] As such, I really don’t bother using it at all unless I really have to – the friction is minimal, but it’s still too much.


The small conveniences afforded by the likes of Chromecast make a big difference, and as noted already, I’ve found it’s dictating not only which streaming services I use, but also which content I consume AND when.

And I don’t intend to talk about Chromecast and WebRTC – that’s a topic for another post. I want to focus on friction.

When it comes to using VoIP technologies, end users suffer daily. Or at least they have. Being a part of that industry for the better part of my adult life, I can safely say that it is never easy. You go and download an app. You install it. You configure it. You log in. And then you start troubleshooting why the hell it doesn’t work.

Guess what? That laptop you have might be too new or too old. There might be clashes with some other apps that are installed, or just plain stupid drivers that won’t work in your environment. And that’s when things are good.

With physical devices such as video conferencing room systems, you are always on the lookout for the correct remote on the table, or understanding which of the buttons need to be pressed to get something done (like the arcane art of dialing into a conference).

WebRTC does away with all that by several concepts and realities:

  1. It is embedded in the web browser, so there’s nothing to download or install from the user’s point of view
  2. It is introduced at a time when words like Cloud, Mobile and Social and Information have force. And a Gartner report

How do you combine these two?

  • Cloud places most new WebRTC services and offerings as cloud based, where users just access them through the web. These in turn are designed and built not for the IT department (as their legacy VoIP counterparts), but rather for the end users
  • Mobile means they are available everywhere and anywhere
  • Social means that in a lot of instances login and configuration is based on existing social identity that you already have
  • Information means they are making use of context – something that is missing in today’s telephony and VoIP solutions

The friction reduction of WebRTC isn’t limited to the part of not having to download and install anything – which in itself is a huge gain. It is also in the ability to add context and meaning to the interaction – something that is usually associated with contact centers.

WebRTC brings with it a lot of benefits to many verticals when it comes to friction:

  • Getting potential customers faster through the sales funnel
  • Have shorter handling time at your support center by use of the browser’s context
  • Reduce sign up and sign in times for using your communication service to get it adopted en masse
  • Get rid of the setup time of conference calls by providing a single URL with no PIN code, software installations and software updates

Why is it important?

People’s attention span is dwindling and their expectation for immediacy in the services they consume is only going to grow.

Utilizing WebRTC’s Job to be Done when it comes to friction reduction can make a difference between the successful businesses and their counterparts.

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  1. Although mentioned in this post, there is more to the use of “information” being used”contextually.” Also, there is more than “attention span” involved with user interactions, i.e., reducing the amount of time effort necessary for an end user to do what they want to get done.

    The bars for both are rapidly being raised, especially by mobile technologies and smartphones/tablets.

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