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Real-Time Communication (RTC): the ultimate guide

September 21, 2023
Daria Trut

Daria Trut

Categories: Reviews

Real-Time Communication (RTC)

What is Real-Time Communication (RTC)?

Real-Time Communications, abbreviated as RTC, can be compared to an express courier service for data transmission over the web. It enables near-instant data sharing using any telecommunication service.

RTC leverages innovative technologies such as Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). These technologies act as unseen pillars, ensuring seamless interaction between your devices.

RTC typically means immediate, one-to-one interactions as opposed to broadcasting or multicasting. Its use is widely-adopted especially in functions such as voice and video calls, messaging, live streaming, and video conferencing.

The influence of RTC is beyond measure. It has dramatically altered our means of communication and collaboration, adding efficiency and ease to remote work and online education. It plays an important role in social and professional exchanges. In a time where being connected is of utmost importance, RTC has truly proven to be a transformative force. The impact of RTC extends further into the realm of real-time marketing, where examples such as live customer service chats and instant feedback mechanisms have revolutionized the way businesses engage with their customers. These advancements have not only improved customer satisfaction but also provided companies with invaluable, immediate insights into consumer behavior and preferences.

Modes of Real Time Communication

When talking about Real-Time Communications (RTC), our attention is primarily drawn to two predominant strategies for data transfer:

  • Half Duplex: This resembles a two-way interaction where one party speaks, and the other receives, alternating roles. Data has the capability to move in either direction, though not simultaneously.
  • Full Duplex: Much like a traditional phone call, data can move bidirectionally in real-time, making use of a single channel.

Read further to get a better understanding of real-time communication!

Live Chat

Live chat operates as a personal assistant across your website, mobile application, or social media platforms, offering immediate interactions between users and customer service, sales teams, or other users.

  1. Zendesk: Think of this as your customer service superhero. It comes equipped with a live chat functionality, allowing businesses to participate in real-time conversations with customers.
  2. LiveChat: True to its name, LiveChat focuses on live chat services. It can be integrated into websites, mobile applications, and social media platforms, offering functionalities such as live visitor tracking, chat history, and file exchange.
  3. Intercom: IntercomA chat platform that provides a live chat feature, emphasizing personalized, real-time one-to-one interactions with customers and prospects.
  4. Drift: A conversational marketing platform offering live chat solutions that assist businesses in connecting with potential customers, improving engagement and conversions.
  5. Tawk.to: A complimentary live chat application allowing you to chat with visitors on your website or from a free customizable page.

Keep in mind, the optimal live chat solution should respond to your business requirements and desired outcomes.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is like exchanging notes in a classroom scenario, but digitally. It helps sending and receiving messages via the internet, allowing individual or group conversations with other internet users. Let's discuss some

  1. Slack: Slack conveniently offers one-on-one or collective conversations, a user-friendly file sharing system, and supports many of productivity tools.
  2. WhatsApp: A versatile application supporting both personal and corporate communication requirements. Its distinguishing features include text messaging, voice and video call functionality, and the ability to share documents seamlessly.
  3. Microsoft Teams: Offers a range of services including instant messaging, video conferencing, and secure file storage. It helps effective communication, whether in private or group settings.
  4. Telegram: Highly recognized for its security, Telegram allows private or group interactions and the transmission of large files.
  5. Facebook Messenger: Initially a personal chat tool, Messenger has evolved into a business communication platform, offering messaging, voice and video calls. In recent times, businesses have begun to use Facebook Messenger for customer service to provide real-time solutions and build better customer relationships. The versatility of Messenger makes it a viable option for customer interaction, allowing for immediate responses to inquiries and a more personalized service experience. There are also plenty of Facebook chatbot options for instant AI-powered communication.

Remember, the ideal messaging tool depends on your specific needs and preferred communication style. However, you have to also take into account the preferences of your customers by analyzing the data in your CRM software. Especially if you are a startup or at the beginning of your business journey be careful how you approach customer relations, and make sure to choose the best CRM for small business.

Voice calls and video chat

Voice and video chat functionalities are like engaging in an in-person discussion, irrespective of your location, thus adding an intimate feel to the communication process. These features prove extremely beneficial across various sectors including customer support, matchmaking apps, consultancy services, healthcare, and hospitality.

  1. TrueConf:TrueConf This server-based video conferencing solution invites users to engage in virtual meetings via video or audio, complete with a real-time chat feature. It stands as an ideal option for business meetings, webinars, and digital classes.
  2. Skype: Recognized as a communication tool, Skype presents video chat and voice call capabilities, accompanied by instant messaging, file and image sharing, and conference call arrangements. Its extensive usage covers both personal and professional communication needs.
  3. WhatsApp: A leading messaging application that enables users to send text messages, make voice and video calls, send images, documents, geographical locations, and more. While mainly used for personal interactions, its adoption in business communication is increasing.
  4. Google Meet: Mirroring a virtual conference hall, Google Meet is a video-communication service offered by Google, being part of the Google Workspace suite. It’s leveraged for conducting virtual meetings, webinars, and presentations.
  5. Telemedicine platforms: Think of these as of remote medical appointments. A lot of healthcare providers use telemedicine software equipped with video chat functionality, thereby offering direct patient-doctor communications and declining the necessity for in-person consultations. Notable examples include Amwell, Teladoc, and Doctor on Demand.

Bear in mind, if you intend to incorporate voice and video chat functionalities into your application, it’s important to make sure its features are intuitive and secure in order to safeguard the confidentiality of your users’ dialogues.

Real-Time Communication examples

Consider RTC as if you’re instant messaging your friends on applications like Viber or WhatsApp. The moment you hit ‘send’, your message materializes in the recipient’s chat, instilling a sense of immediacy and direct interaction. Real-time communication proves to be beneficial when transferring files.

However, the functionalities of real-time communication extend beyond just that! It’s actively employed during screen sharing, interaction on social media platforms, or on live video streaming services.

The importance of real-time communications

Have you ever thought about the underlying technology that enables us to engage in chat and data exchange over the internet? This is precisely the essence of ‘Real-Time Communications’, often abbreviated as RTC. It’s like talking with a friend at a café, but in the digital world!It's like talking

As smartphones and other tech gadgets, RTC applications have become an everyday norm, they have changed the way we work and learn, transforming any location into a potential workspace or learning spot. Moreover, they are crucial in many of our social and professional exchanges.

  • Efficiency: RTC ensures that chats and file sharing are as fast as they can be.
  • Teamwork: RTC is ideal for collective engagements, for people to participate in virtual team meetings. Hosting group video conferences or online classes? It’s a breeze!
  • Universality: RTC offers the way for us to interact with anyone, irrespective of their location, at any given time.
  • Authenticity: RTC can help us pick up non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language, adding a sense of realism to our online chats.

In conclusion, RTC has fundamentally changed how we communicate and has seamlessly integrated itself into our daily routines.

Challenges in Real-Time Communication

When you have friends or co-workers spread out across the world, coordinating a chat time that fits everyone’s schedule, that can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. This can be a significant obstacle, particularly for businesses and teams operating on a global scale. As video calls lack physical presence, it may complicate the interpretation of body language and gestures, potentially leading to miscommunications.

Technical difficulties, whether with our internet connectivity or with our devices and applications, can significantly complicate our conversations. Finally, in this highly connected era, cultural differences become more evident when we’re communicating in real time. It’s crucial to recognize and respect these differences to ensure our conversations remain smooth and effective.

Challenge #1: Different time zones

Having a global team can be both thrilling and demanding. Time differences can introduce complexities to various organizational aspects, such as:

  • Scheduling gatherings: When arranging a meeting, it’s necessary to consider everyone’s local times to identify a time slot that’s convenient for all, particularly with the rise of virtual offices in places as far away as Japan.
  • Time management: Establishing deadlines can feel like solving a riddle when everyone’s day begins and ends at varying times. Need to tackle a pressing matter? Time zone differences can add complexity to this process.
  • Informal exchanges: Even casual conversations require appropriate timing.

These obstacles are all a part of the thrilling adventure of being a member of a global team!

Example of geographic distance being the challenge

Imagine this scenario: John lives in the vibrant city of Las Vegas, while his co-worker Geetika is based in Delhi, India. Despite being on the same dynamic app development team, there’s a time difference of 9 hours between them.

Picture this: John is about to conclude his workday when an urgent task suddenly arises. He’s eager to contact Geetika, but unfortunately, due to the time difference, she’s already fast asleep and unable to respond.

Challenge #2: Interpreting body language and gestures

Apart from linguistic differences, another element that can disrupt our conversations is a misinterpretation of non-verbal signals. Compared to face-to-face meetings, telephone conversations, video calls, and instant messaging offer limited scope for body language utilization.

Moreover, have you ever observed how some individuals seem different on screen compared to their real-life personas? In the absence of familiar body language, we might perceive some gesture as rude or arrogant.

Example of interpreting body language and gestures being the challenge

Imagine John and Geetika starting a video call. John extends a friendly wave to Geetika with his left hand, moving it from side to side. While in the USA, this gesture is a usual ‘hello’, it denotes ‘go away’ in India. Imagine the ensuing confusion, right?

There we have them, John and Geetika, dedicating a substantial part of their conversation trying to understand why Geetika perceived John’s behavior as rude. It serves as a classic example of a simple interaction leading to a significant misunderstanding!

Are there steps to help establish and improve real-time communication in remote workspaces?

Let’s discuss some measures to improve communication while working remotely.

Step #1: Choose your tools thoughtfully
The right collaboration tools not only simplify communication, but they can also save time, improve team efficiency, inspire creativity and innovation, and ensure information is accessible. Similarly, using a social media scheduling tool when you are in a different time zone can help reduce the pressure and ensure efficiency.

Consider TrueConf. This team chat software allows limitless users, preserves all your chat history, offers an exceptionally user-friendly interface, and even extends the provision for audio and video calls.

Step #2: Ensure instructions and guidelines are clear
When giving instructions, it’s crucial to ensure their clarity. These rules may describe different aspects, ranging from professional dialogues, efficient data exchange, to the proper installation and use of team messaging applications. You could also incorporate some tech training on certain collaboration tools.

For example, let’s imagine Carrie, a team leader, needs to establish some communication norms for her team. She could extract some chat etiquette tips and use them to form her own guidelines for daily team interactions.

Step #3: Establish a healthy work-life balance
Remote work can often blur the boundary between professional and personal time. As a leader, it is on you to encourage your team to set a balanced work-life ratio and respect their personal time.

For example, Steve realizes that his team chat app is eating on his personal time. So, he makes an effort to log out of the app post-work and stops himself from checking it until the next workday. This helps him maintain a separation line between his work and personal time. That reduces stress, and adds on his productivity.

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