- Growth of video and changing public perceptions
- Why choose video calling?
- How to implement video into your contact centre
- How to manage video interactions alongside other workflows
- Video calling use cases for different sectors
- Video best practices and tips for success
1. Growth of video and changing public perceptions
Over the last five years, video has exploded in popularity. A decade ago, video was a luxury only accessible through PCs and laptops, but since the arrival of 4G, superfast, instantly available broadband internet and the rise of smartphones, video has become the most popular method of consuming content.
Marketers and content creators dominated the video space, which was largely based on social media, as a method of engaging more customers with their brand or organisation. In fact, 87% of marketers use video as a marketing tool. Video proved to be a powerful tool in creating a brand story, and people really bought into it. Nowadays, it’s impossible to find a single newsfeed anywhere, be it social media or traditional online news sites like the BBC which isn’t full of video content. It appears to be the preferred way for many to consume media.
Despite this explosion of video content, the public wasn’t sold on the idea of using video as a mainstream communication tool until much more recently. With millennials still preferring to communicate through text, for example through chat, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, even social video calls were somewhat of a rarity even as recently as a year or two ago. A video call was viewed as an event, rather than a day-to-day communication method. Moreover, the idea of a video call to a business was still very niche, with only a few forward thinking companies adopting the contact channel for their customers, and relatively small numbers of customers taking up the option.
Fast forward to today, propelled further by the Covid-19 pandemic, video calling has become a primary contact channel for people of all ages and demographics. Combined with the temporary closure of physical stores and enforced social distancing which has been put into place all over the world, the demand for video has never been higher.
In place of in-person appointments and visiting stores, customers are now much more open and ready to communicate with agents via a video call through a website. But rather than this be a knee-jerk reaction to a temporary crisis, video has already made a long-lasting impression on businesses and customers who were initially hesitant. Video has proven to be a super convenient, efficiency-boosting, experience-enhancing contact channel which has huge benefits for both customers and contact centres alike.
Let’s dive into the power of video calling, and how businesses can use it to maximise sales, service and experience for their end users by embedding it seamlessly into their customers’ website journeys.
2. Why choose video calling?
The public has now accepted video calling as a credible method of communication, and as with the adoption of social media channels and live chat, businesses need to be quick to respond to changing consumer demands. With digital channels, especially websites, playing a larger role in customer journeys, more customers expect customer service and contact to be available online, in the same way they expect the products and services themselves to be available online.
Sceptical businesses should also remember that video isn’t merely a fad or a way to keep up appearances of simply looking forward-thinking… there are numerous business benefits which can be enjoyed by using video to talk with customers through your website.
From a customer perspective, nothing feels quite as personalised as a face-to-face consultation. Video allows agents to offer a virtual, in-person appointment directly through the website. In some cases, it may be difficult for customers to visit a store- especially if they are in a remote location- and this provides a great alternative which offers them a similar brand experience.
What’s more, video is an effective way to offer more private consultations to customers in a cost-effective way by reducing the need for travel, floor space and physical stores.
Offering video as part of the customer’s online journey also helps to bridge the gap between your company’s online and offline experiences. Offline, in-store and over the phone, building a rapport with customers and immersing them in your company or organisation’s story is relatively straightforward- there are sensory elements at play which help to evoke a feeling of identity, security and experience.
This is harder to achieve through digital channels - particularly through a website, which is primarily designed to be functional, rather than immersive and experiential. By incorporating video through your website, you can pull through some of the experiences offered to offline customers, and bring these to your online audience. Not only does this help to create a more fluid and consistent customer experience, but also helps to improve online conversions, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
3. How to implement video into your contact centre
Although it may come as a surprise, video is a lot more straightforward to integrate into your contact centre than you might think.
Of course, there are different ways you can implement video depending on your needs and budget. Let’s begin with the most basic needs: audio/visual equipment. Many companies who are starting out with video simply use the microphones and webcams already installed on their headsets and machines. If you want a sleeker, more branded look, the addition of a screen behind the agent can instantly look much more private and professional, with the added benefit of not revealing your office space, which may not always want to be visible to customers.
From an integrations standpoint, implementing video can be remarkably quick and easy to do. A browser-based agent console, like the one offered by Talkative, can be deployed within a day, anywhere in the world. The Talkative Engage platform with video can be embedded into a website with just 3 lines of code, offering customers video calls as they browse the pages of your website.
Although that is a great option for speedy deployment and works well, often the most beneficial way of implementing video is to integrate it with your existing contact centre environments. For example, if you integrate video with your existing telephony or contact centre, agents have the ability to seamlessly escalate chats and web calls to video calls, from a centralised agent dashboard.
If you use Mitel Web Ignite, for example, video calls can be integrated into Ignite directly, allowing agents to easily swap in and out of calls, chats and videos at the click of a button. This is also true for integrations into CRM systems like Salesforce, which enables agents to manage interactions directly through Sales or Service Cloud. Not only does this offer customers a multitude of contact options, but allows agents to maximise their efficiency without having to move across platforms and apps.
4. How to manage video calls alongside your other workflows
The key to success when introducing video calling as a contact channel is to ensure you are managing video calls alongside your other workflows properly. As with any other contact channel, not doing so can lead to disorganisation within your team, long wait queues and unhappy customers. Remember, if you are going to offer it… you need to make sure you can handle it!
One of the best ways to achieve this is by ensuring all contact centre workflows come through to the same place. This is especially important for interactions generated from your website, including chats, web calls, video calls and cobrowse sessions.
Having a centralised agent/supervisor dashboard gives a clear view of inbound interactions, making it much simpler to manage different interaction types as they come in. This allows agents to easily accept and route incoming calls to the right agent or department, as well as being able to see previous case history and sometimes customer details which helps to speed up resolution times.
The other important thing to remember is that video calling won’t be necessary on every call, so it is vital that agents understand when to offer it to customers. It might be the case that video is offered for specific, booked appointments only. Or, video might be used to show customers products or to assist them with customer service enquiries. As such, having clear use cases in mind for video and communicating these clearly with your team will prevent video from becoming inefficient and disrupting the flow of your contact centre.
5. Video use cases for different sectors
Video is an incredibly versatile contact channel which has a multitude of use cases across numerous sectors.
For public sector organisations, one of the biggest use cases is to increase accessibility. For councils, it’s important to be able to offer residents the same levels of customer care through the website as they would be able to in person or over the phone. Video is therefore offered to assist those who are hard of hearing for example. It can be difficult or inconvenient for people with hearing loss to always have to head into the council for a scheduled meeting, when more options are available to others. Video offers all residents the same level of convenience and service, whilst also improving overall efficiency.
A very common use of video is to show people things without the need for travel or in-person meetings. For housing associations, video is used effectively to help diagnose tenant problems before sending out a professional to site to look at a problem, which can massively reduce travel costs.
Housing associations have very high volumes of inbound service calls, often relating to issues with their property. This can lead to expensive call-outs, sometimes unnecessarily. Video calling is used to help diagnose the problem and decide whether the problem can be solved remotely, or whether it needs further investigation and requires a call out. This can reduce wait times for appointments and also allows the tenants to get clarification on their problem quicker.
In a similar way, healthcare organisations are increasingly using video to enable remote clinical appointments and remote patient care. In their times of need, patients require support- wherever they might be. On occasions, they may not be physically able to attend an in-person appointment. Through video calling, patients can receive high calibre advice and care through a website, offering them the reassuring personal consultations they would get face-to-face.
Financial services businesses and retailers also make use of video calling to offer customers face-to-face consultations, but for different reasons.
Financial services businesses use video to schedule personal, private appointments with customers, offering more flexibility and convenience than an in person meeting. This offers more convenience to the customer, especially as many customers nowadays choose to manage their banking or insurances online. Video calling through Talkative is completely secure and compliant with industry standards, so the customer can rest assured that their virtual meeting is strictly confidential, while receiving expert advice from the comfort of their own home.
Retailers have used video calling on their website to improve online customer experience by offering personal shopping experiences and fitting services. Video allows agents to physically show customers around a product, helping the customer gauge the overall quality and credibility of a brand online. To improve the customer’s experience, some retailers are even using video calling to provide expert fitting services to remote customers, which helps to offer the same experiences customers have in-store to their wider online communities.
Another example of how video can be used to maximise conversions and sales is in the automotive industry. Car dealerships use video in a similar way to retailers, by showing customers around vehicles, interiors, under the bonnet and more. Particularly in the used car market, customers can often travel long distances to see cars based only on images on a dealership website. A dealership salesperson can offer a convenient show around the car before the customer makes the journey, helping to build confidence in the customer and ultimately secure the sale.
British retailer Bravissimo uses video calling alongside live chat on their website to help online shoppers with fitting consultations and customer service enquiries. Since using Talkative, they have increased their online satisfaction rates to over 90% and reduced chat abandonment rates by 70%. Read their full story here!
6. Video calling best practices and tips for success
If you’ve decided to implement video calling into your contact centre, there are a few things to consider to ensure you make the most out of it. Here are a few helpful tips and best practices to make sure video is a success for your business:
1. Train your staff
It might sound obvious, but one of the most important keys to success with video calling in your contact centre is to properly train your staff. A video call is a different experience to a phone call, with the face-to-face aspect making the interaction more personal.
Not every member of your team may be suited to offering video calls. To begin with, it may be advisable to route all video calls through to a select team of trained agents who are competent over video. This makes the addition of video calls more manageable alongside other interaction types, as the workflow is more organised. As well as this, it ensures that customers receive the best advice from competent agents who are confident and know what they are doing… helping to ease tensions and put customer’s minds at ease.
It is also vital to take the time to adequately train staff members on how to use the video calling software properly. The best advice in the world can easily be overshadowed by technical problems or agents getting flustered when they are unsure on how to use a piece of software.
2. Understand why you're offering video
Although this has been touched on previously, it is so important that you have a clear understanding of when and why to offer a video call to customers. Video calls are incredibly powerful and have the ability to reduce query resolution times and improve contact centre efficiency, but if you’re not careful, video can also become difficult to manage.
Video isn’t something which should be used in place of any and every other type of contact channel. It is important to look at your customer’s online journey and understand how video can boost that experience, rather than hinder it. This will likely be specific to your audience and the reasons to use video will be different from company to company.
For example, if a customer has a quick question or a simple problem to fix, live chat may be a better option for the end customer as it provides them with the answer they are looking for, quickly and conveniently. Agents shouldn’t blindly offer video calls to customers for the sake of it. Video should be used with discretion and there should be clear guidelines to all agents for what circumstances would properly warrant its use.
3. Have good audio/visual
This is a tip which is often undervalued, but having good audio and visual quality is paramount when it comes to offering video to your customers.
The agents might have been trained to expert standards, but if the sound quality is poor or the customer can’t see them properly this can be distracting and look unprofessional. A good microphone, even if it is the one on their existing headset, is all that is needed to ensure clear communication.
Similarly, you don’t need to increase budget on state-of-the-art cameras. A webcam is fine- just make sure the agent is facing towards a good, even light source. Good lighting can make the image appear much higher quality and present a cleaner, more professional look for customers. Try placing your video calling agents next to or directly in front of windows, so the light is hitting their face to ensure a crystal clear image, rather than placing the agents so the light source is behind them, which will make the agent appear very dark and difficult for the customer to see.
Check out our video 5 Things To Consider When Video Calling Your Customers and our blog piece Pros and Cons of Video Calling in your Contact Centre for more tips and best practices to help you get started!
7. Video for your contact centre: a summary
The popularity of video calling may have been accelerated by recent global events, but the impact that video has had on organisations and businesses of all types, across the globe, will be lasting. Whether the use of video is limited to booked personal appointments or is designed to increase your contact centre accessibility, consumer habits and expectations are changing so rapidly that it is hard not to find a good use case for video nowadays.
Video allows your customers to connect instantaneously and meaningfully with contact centre agents as they travel through your website. Changing consumer habits coupled with the increasing need for convenience and fast resolution rates has changed the way customers view video, from something that was merely for consuming content to a fully-fledged and serious customer contact channel.
Video helps to add a much needed human element to the online journey. Websites and digital channels are designed to be functional rather than based on building personal relationships, but despite their growing dominance across all markets and sectors, the need for human support remains as high as ever for the end customer.
Video helps to bridge the gap between your online and offline experiences to help create a holistic experience, regardless of sector or industry. For contact centres, video can be straightforward to implement, but the rewards are big. From improved accessibility, improved customer satisfaction, reduced resolution rates and improved overall contact centre efficiency, video calling marks a profound, and lasting step forward in the dynamics of building real customer relationships through websites.