Video conferencing is now part of everyday life - from catching up with your teammates to supporting your customers.
But with so many different types of video conferencing solutions available, how do you know which is right for your business?
For instance, which kind of solution is best for teams? What about your customers?
Do you need a physical video conferencing system or a software solution that launches video calls from desktop and mobile devices?
In this article, we’ll answer all these questions and more. We'll cover:
- The difference between video conferencing and video chat
- The four key types of video conferencing you need to know about
- The best video conferencing software for both internal and external communication
Let's get started.
What is video conferencing?
Video conferencing is a form of online technology that enables people to conduct face-to-face meetings from remote locations.
It's most often used in business settings when two or more people need to discuss a particular topic.
For instance, a remote team can use video conferencing software to conduct weekly meetings.
Without the need to travel to a location for the meeting, video conferences help save time and money.
However, video conferencing isn't the only kind of communications channel that incorporates video technology.
Other examples just go by different names.
For example, an informal video meeting among friends or family is often called a 'video call'.
In contrast, a business using video conferencing for customer service would be more likely to use the term 'video chat'.
The benefits of video conferencing
In both formal and informal interactions, video conferencing software has some key benefits that make it a great alternative to text or voice-based communication.
Firstly, a video conferencing software platform can be a significant cost-saver in many scenarios.
Companies with multiple offices and remote employees can better coordinate team meetings without the need for travel.
Businesses looking to hire remote workers can use video to conduct job interviews too.
What's more, video conferencing software is also an excellent tool for speed and efficiency - especially in an online customer service setting.
For instance, face-to-face conversations speed up interactions and improve overall understanding.
This is because text or voice-based interactions can't portray facial expressions or body language.
It means that video conferencing options are the next best thing to in-person meetings.
How does video conferencing work?
There are two key ways in which individuals can take part in a video conference call.
Most commonly, team members can use the webcams built into their laptop or desktop monitor.
External webcams can also be connected to these devices should they be required.
That said, more and more businesses are now using mobile devices to conduct group video conferencing sessions.
With smartphones and tablets being well equipped with front-facing cameras, employees can easily take part in a video call from anywhere at any time.
Four key types of video conferencing
Now that we've got a better understanding of what video conferencing is, let's look at the types of conferences most commonly conducted.
1. The one on one business meeting
Since the pandemic first began, the rate of employees working from home has skyrocketed.
As such, one-on-one video conferencing has become highly commonplace within businesses and organisations.
The reason is simple: in terms of fast and efficient communication, one-on-one video conferences are only second to in-person meetings.
For example, with video, managers can meet with an employee to discuss business operations.
Teammates can jump on a quick conference call and use screen sharing to better discuss projects and improve collaboration.
This type of meeting can also be used to host job interviews. By conducting the hiring process in this way, both employers and prospective employees benefit from the remote flexibility video conferencing provides.
2. The customer video conference
Unlike the example of video conferencing above, this kind of video meeting allows external communication between businesses and their customers.
Most importantly, this kind of website engagement tool is gaining traction fast.
For instance, businesses that have deployed Talkative’s customer video conferencing software have seen their interactions surge by over 400% in one year.
This is because customer video conferencing humanizes the online journey.
What’s more, when used in conjunction with other intelligent contact channels, video dramatically improves the customer experience overall.
It means customer-facing video chat is fast becoming a must-have for businesses and organisations alike.
3. The team video conference
While business teams once relied on conference rooms for their weekly or monthly meetings, video conferencing technology has made face-to-face contact far easier to achieve.
These days, most offices rely on cloud-based video communications to connect their remote teammates.
Much like one-to-one video meetings, this type of video conference can be conducted for various reasons.
For example, team members can join meetings to discuss upcoming objectives.
They can also better aid content sharing when working towards a joint goal.
Video team meetings can also be used to host virtual events too.
For example, if an employee has an upcoming birthday, but the whole team can't make an in-person meeting, video conferencing software can easily connect meeting attendees for an informal get-together.
4. The company video conference
Much like the team video meeting, a company video conference is an interaction where every team member connects for a single meeting - usually from different locations.
Large corporations will often use this kind of video conference to speak to their entire staff regarding essential updates or news.
That said, smaller teams can also take advantage of this kind of meeting.
For example, a weekly company catch up is a great way to leverage video conferencing software to boost morale and keep up to date.
What video conferencing software should I use?
If you want to deploy video conferencing software for your business, there are a significant number of options available.
But the best video conferencing software will vary depending on your needs.
To better help you decide on a solution for you, let's outline what you should be looking for in a video conferencing solution - whatever your needs may be.
Enterprise video conferencing technology
If you're looking for video conferencing technology for internal means, you'll want to look for a platform that caters to the size of your company.
For instance, if you're a small startup, consumer-level video software like Zoom is an excellent choice for cost-effective meetups.
However, if your business or organisation requires video conferencing software for larger teams, you'll want to look into an enterprise solution.
Platforms like Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts are great options - especially if your company has a multinational presence and requires seamless communication between different locations.
Customer video conferencing technology
When it comes to offering video chat to your customers, there are some key considerations you'll want to take into account.
For example, not every customer video chat platform offers HD video and high-quality audio.
Not all solutions offer the same level of functionality as others either.
So, to make sure you're making the right decision, here are the key considerations you'll want to look into when researching customer-facing video chat.
While Zoom is an excellent tool for internal business meetings, it's a poor choice for customer-facing interactions. It's the same for its competitors too.
This is because standard video conferencing tools like Zoom can’t provide a seamless customer experience.
Let's take a look at an example.
Say you're an online retailer that wants to offer a virtual shopping experience through your website.
To truly bring the in-store experience online, you need video chat software that seamlessly blends into your customers' browsers.
If your customer has to ask for a Zoom link, you’re diverting them away from your site.
This isn't great for an on-brand experience. It can even damage customer perception.
So, make sure to consider software that genuinely compliments your site and your digital presence.
Direct launch video
Another consideration you'll want to bear in mind is whether a customer video conferencing platform can supply direct launch video chats.
While this might sound like a prerequisite for video meeting solutions, some software only allows staff and customers to send short video clips back and forth.
This greatly disturbs the human connection that actual live video chat provides.
So, make sure to consider software that truly offers direct launch video chat straight from your website or app.
Mobile app integration
Speaking of mobile apps, another reason you'll want to avoid Zoom for customer calls is its lack of mobile app integration.
Most online video conferencing platforms don't offer a dedicated mobile solution that seamlessly fits into your app.
Once again, this disturbs the customer experience.
Instead, opt for software that can integrate straight into your website and app.
It’ll give your customers the ability to enjoy an on-the-go video chat experience wherever they are.
With more and more brands offering virtual shopping experiences, it's becoming commonplace to leverage in-store associates as video conferencing assistants.
While this is a great way to engage both customers and store-based employees, you don't want to neglect desk-based agents completely - a critical point to remember for larger organisations.
This is because desk-based agents will always have more time to spend interacting with your online customers. They'll also have easy access to all company systems.
In contrast, in-store virtual assistants will be splitting their time between online and offline customers.
So, to make sure you're not holding any customers up, opt for a customer video chat tool that allows you to leverage both desk-based and mobile agents.
On-demand and scheduled video chat
When it comes to providing a stellar digital customer experience, convenience is crucial.
As such, the best customer-facing video options allow your customers to start a video chat whenever it suits them.
For instance, some virtual shopping alternatives don't allow customers to launch direct video calls on-demand.
Instead, customers have to request a video chat through a live chat interaction first.
On the other hand, some video chat platforms don't allow you to schedule video chats ahead of time.
With these platforms, customers can only interact with the brand then and there, meaning less convenience overall.
To make sure you're genuinely catering to your customers’ needs, make sure to opt for a video option that offers both on-demand and scheduled video chat.
Screenshare & cobrowse
One of the best ways to complement a customer video chat is to provide on-page navigation through screen sharing and cobrowse.
By gaining a view of your customers' screens, you can better understand the problems they might be facing during your digital journey.
With cobrowse, you can even annotate customer web pages in real-time and improve guidance with page-push technology.
This tool is super handy during internal or business video conferences, so it follows that customers would find it a huge help too.
With this in mind, make sure your customer video conferencing software gives you full-screen share and cobrowse capabilities.
With so many types of video conferencing tools available to modern businesses, it's best to deploy a solution that caters to your organisations' size and usage levels.
Careful consideration is also paramount when adopting a customer-facing video conferencing solution.
There's no substitute for a human connection - it's the reason Talkative prides itself on delivering a video chat platform that's flexible enough to meet both you and your customers' needs.
For instance, our purpose-built solution allows you to offer direct launch video from your website and mobile app.
Scheduled and on-demand video chats are available too.
You can even leverage desk-based and mobile agents to offer a dedicated support team to your customers whenever they might need it.
So, if you're looking to transform your customer experience with video, book a demo with Talkative today.
Our video chat will help you see your customers smile.