WebRTC vs SIP Softphone: What’s Better for Call Center
Recently, WebRTC technology has become more widespread. It is designed to stream data between browsers or other applications, using point-to-point technology. As for voice communication it allows you to make voice calls through the browser or other application. Since this technology is supported by most browsers that almost every user has, it was assumed that it would replace conventional SIP phones and softphones, making working with PBX more convenient and simpler. But is that really the case?
What is the fundamental difference between WebRTC and SIP softphone?
From the user's point of view:
• The solution based on WebRTC works in a browser that’s already being used.
• SIP softphone is a software that needs to be installed on your computer.
From the point of view of a system administrator or technician:
• WebRTC isn't a technology that allows you to choose any software you want. Your VoIP provider must give you a complete browser-based softphone solution built on top of WebRTC. In other words you don't have any softphone, your VoIP provider's browser-based softphone is the only software you can use.
• SIP protocol is a widely used VoIP standard; therefore it is supported by all existing VoIP hardware and software. You can use any SIP softphone as opposed to WebRTC.
Can WebRTC be used instead of SIP softphone?
It is possible, but at the same time, unfortunately, WebRTC is not a fully-fledged replacement for the SIP softphone for several reasons.
Advantages of WebRTC over SIP softphones.
1. WebRTC softphone runs in a browser, so it does not need to be installed separately
This is the main WebRTC pro. Browser is installed on every workstation, so to launch a WebRTC phone, you just need to open the link and log in. The phone page will load and the user will be able to receive calls immediately. Is that convenient for end users? Absolutely!
WebRTC solution developers often highlight the fact that a user can open a page with a phone on any computer. That's true.
On the other hand, is that really that important in a call center? How often does an Agent migrate from one computer to another? Our experience says that it's very unusual. Having that in mind, is that zero-installation feature a real big advantage?
Even more, softphone installation, Softphone.Pro for instance, takes less than one minute and it happens only once (no need to install a softphone every time agent is going to start it). The software size is only 20 MB. Skype is 80 MB, and the Microsoft Office is more than 2,000 MB.
Therefore, this zero-installation advantage is actually negligible for call center agents.
2. WebRTC phone needs no configuration
Yes, it's enough to open a WebRTC phone webpage and allow microphone access:
This WebRTC benefit isn't as cool as it seems to be. All the professional softphones have a remote provisioning feature. It means that softphone settings are stored on a cloud server, the provisioning server. Once agent starts a SIP softphone and logs in with his or her login credentials, the softphone downloads its configuration settings from the server. It takes less than 1 second!.
Neither a system administrator nor an agent needs to enter any configuration settings. An agent has a preconfigured application and can start making calls immediately.
Let's talk about WebRTC disadvatages
1. Solutions on WebRTC do not work on weak computers
The demands of modern browsers for computers are constantly growing. It's no secret that Google Chrome, with a couple of tabs open, eats up about 300 MB. So, a page with a WebRTC phone will require at least 200-300 MB. At the same time, developer forums are full of messages about memory leaks while using WebRTC solutions. This means that, as you work, your phone will take up more and more memory. So, after a couple of hours of intensive work, it doubles and already takes up 500 MB of computer RAM.
What's the big deal, you ask? That’s not a lot for most modern computers.
But, even in internal call centers, it is not always possible to buy powerful modern computers that fit the requirements of some systems. And what about remote employees, using their own equipment? They will have a computer that works, but it may well be quite old. It is impossible to increase the RAM on such computers. Therefore, as this memory fills up, some technical problems may arise: the computer starts to freeze, the sound “croaks” when a call is made, making it difficult for the operator to talk to the client, and the system often has to be rebooted.
There are two simple solutions: replace the equipment with newer versions, or use a program with fewer requirements for the amount of free space needed on the computer.
For example, Softphone.Pro's RAM requirements are much more modest: it takes only about 100 MB and does not grow in size. This means that the application works great on any, including weak, computers that are mainly used by remote operators.
2. WebRTC phone does not support multiple SIP accounts
For some call centers, it is important to work with several SIP accounts, which is not supported in WebRTC solutions. For example, a call center may serve a network of offices, located in different cities. A separate SIP account is created for each city. Thus, the operator not only sees where the client is calling from, but can also present their call as coming from the desired city: a client from Moscow is called from a Moscow number, and a client from Yekaterinburg is called from a Yekaterinburg number.
Softphone.Pro works with 32 SIP accounts and can call from the required account just by one click (link to the article in the knowledge base rus - https://ru.softphone.pro/help/web-links-callto-sip-tel eng - https : //softphone.pro/en/help/click-to-call-phone-number-hyperlink-sip-callto-tel). This is especially convenient when operators call customers from a single system: by clicking on a phone number, the operator will make a call from the correct SIP account. The probability of error and the human factor is minimized.
3. WebRTC phone does not support many typical phone functions
Since the WebRTC standard describes only the general principles of audio and sound transmission, solutions based on it may encounter problems with the most common telephony functions, such as holding and transferring a call, conference-calling, indicating the status of colleagues (BLF), etc.
In SIP softphones, there are no such problems - the user has the widest range of functions that are guaranteed to work with any cloud PBX, as well as with specialized server software for a call center.
Here is a short list of features that are guaranteed to work in Softphone.Pro:
• Fast and "with consultation" call transfer (unattended and warm transfer)
• Conditional auto answer
• Hold / Unhold
• Call conference for up to six participants
• Voicemail drop
• Call recording in whole or in some parts of it
• Display of statuses of colleagues (BLF)
• Holding an incoming call on the second line (call waiting)
4. The WebRTC phone does not have special functions that are required in most call centers
The phone program in the call center is not only a means of communication with customers, but also a powerful tool for collecting statistics on the work of operators.
Softphone.Pro constantly transmits to the server information about the operator's working time, images from the webcam, as well as recordings of the computer screen. Analysis of this data helps to optimize the operator's work schedule, calculate salaries, and identify unscrupulous employees.
A WebRTC phone, due to its technical features, simply cannot solve most of these tasks and does not meet modern requirements in terms of integration:
• No integration with Jabra and Plantronics professional headsets
• No integration with applications on Windows and Mac (click-to-call, pop-up card, save history and audio recordings)
• No click-to-call function in any applications and web services
• No stereo recording function, where operator and client are recorded in separate channels (stereo recording is required for subsequent speech-to-text speech recognition)
WebRTC or SIP softphone: comparison table
|Feature||WebRTC||Softphone.Pro (SIP softphone)|
|Cloud PBX compatibility||Partial, cloud PBX provider needs to provide their branded WebRTC phone||Yes, any cloud PBX supported|
|Self hosted PBX compatibility||No||Yes, any SIP PBX supported|
|System requirements||400MB RAM||Windows or Mac, 100MB RAM|
|Zero configuration||Yes||Yes, remote provisioning must be enabled|
|Multiple SIP accounts||No||Yes, up to 32 SIP accounts|
|Call hold||Depends on implementation||Yes|
|Call transfer||Depends on implementation||Yes|
|Conference call||Depends on implementation||Yes, up to six participants|
|Play pre-recorded audio message (voicemail drop)||No||Yes|
|Jabra and Plantronics USB headset buttons support||No||Yes|
|Call recording||No||Yes, mono and stereo (suitable for speech-to-text)|
|Agent's time tracking||No||Yes|
|Third party web app integration||Yes, can be embedded in web application||Yes|
|Third party Windows and Mac app integration||No||Yes|
WebRTC phone has certain advantages over SIP softphones, but they are more relevant for those employees who needs voice calling from time to time only; for example, an accountant or a manager.
For call center employees who use the phone all the time, these benefits are not so significant. At the same time, SIP softphones, such as Softphone.Pro, compensate for their shortcomings with additional features: integration with third-party applications, screen recording and operator monitoring using a webcam, support for multiple SIP accounts, and support for professional headsets from Jabra and Plantronics. Therefore, we can conclude that a SIP softphone is better suited for work in a call center.
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