What is Video Chat? Definition, Benefits, and Best Practices

July 21, 2023
what is video chat

Video chat has become an increasingly popular communication channel in recent years.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, video chat apps proved essential for sustaining human connection during periods of social distancing.

In the business world, video conferencing enabled countless organizations to operate remotely and maintain workplace collaboration.

As video calling has become so prevalent in our working and social lives, it’s easy to see why many leading brands have adopted it as a customer contact channel.

With video chat, businesses can take their digital customer service to the next level by recreating the in-store customer experience in the virtual realm.

So, whether you’re new to video chat or looking to add this tool to your customer support strategy - you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll provide everything you need to know about this channel from a user and business perspective. We’ll cover:

  • What is video chat?
  • How does video calling work?
  • Video chatting vs. video conferencing
  • The benefits of video chat for businesses and consumers
  • Best practices for video customer support
customer using FaceTime app to call in-store representative

What is video chat?

Put simply, video chat is a technology that enables users to engage in real-time conversations over the Internet.

With the help of webcams or built-in cameras on devices like smartphones or tablets, video calling brings people together in the virtual realm.

This allows participants to simulate a face-to-face interaction experience, despite being physically distant from each other.

Video chat's ability to bridge the gap between in-person and online communication has revolutionized the way we connect and collaborate - in both our personal and professional lives.

It's also become a popular customer support solution for a number of industries and use cases, for example:

In essence, video chat combines the power of visual and audio communication to create an immersive and interactive experience.

With the power of video, brands can eliminate geographical barriers and transform digital customer service.

customer video chatting with agent using web cam

How do video calls work?

At its core, video chat works by capturing live video feeds of participants through their cameras and transmitting this data over the Internet.

Simultaneously, audio data is also transmitted, allowing users to converse in real time. 

The video and audio data are compressed and sent through internet protocols to ensure seamless transmission.

In turn, the video feeds from all participants are displayed on their respective screens, allowing for visual interaction and the observation of non-verbal cues.

To initiate a video chat, participants need compatible devices with functioning cameras and an internet connection. 

They also require access to video call software, which provides a platform for hosting video calls.

During a video call, participants can engage in discussions, provide demonstrations, and work together on shared tasks, creating a dynamic and collaborative virtual environment.

call center agent surround by video chat customers

Video chatting vs. video conferencing

The terms ’video chat’ and ‘video conferencing’ can be used interchangeably - but there are differences between the contexts they’re often used in.

Video conferencing typically refers to multi-party video calls that occur in a professional or educational setting.

Many organizations use video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams to facilitate workplace collaboration, webinars, and virtual team meetings.

Video chatting, on the other hand, typically refers to one-on-one conversations that occur in a social or customer service setting.

The use of video chat for customer service offers maximum convenience for consumers and adds a human touch to digital support interactions.

With specialist video chat platforms like Talkative, businesses can connect face-to-face with their online customers to deliver an innovative and personalized experience.

video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype)

Benefits of video chat for businesses and consumers

Implementing video chat for customer conversations can benefit businesses in numerous ways, including:

  1. Increased conversions: According to customer experience leaders, video chat helps them convert in 40% of their customer interactions. Through a video call, sales agents can gain a greater understanding of the customer’s individual needs. They can then use this information to provide personalized recommendations, product demonstrations, and a tailored sales pitch that’ll get the best results.
  2. Stronger customer relationships: Video chat enables humanized communication in the virtual realm. This empowers agents to establish genuine rapport and a greater emotional connection with the customer. As a result, agents can leverage video to foster authentic relationships and build customer loyalty.
  3. Faster resolutions: With video, the face-to-face dynamic makes for faster and more efficient problem-solving. A video call facilitates better communication between participants, helping agents to understand customer issues with greater speed and clarity. It’s why Talkative customers have found that interactions are resolved 60% faster when they take place over video.
  4. Competitive edge: If your competitors don’t offer video chat to their customers, you can get a step ahead of them by implementing it first. You might even acquire more customers by doing so. In fact, 27% of consumers say they would switch to a different brand if that business offered video chat for online sales and customer support.

For consumers, the main benefit of video chat is that it replicates the in-store experience more closely than any other means of digital communication.

Take Talkative customer Caseys Furniture as an example. They take the digital customer experience to the next level by using video chat to provide personalized virtual shopping consultations.

Thanks to video chat, Caseys’ customers can enjoy face-to-face service, in-depth guidance, and visual product demonstrations - from the comfort of their own homes.

Video chat customer service: Best practices

When it comes to using video chat for customer interactions, it’s imperative that you take steps to ensure an exceptional user and customer experience.

In this section, we’ll detail the essential best practices and strategies to help you achieve just that.

1. Make it clear that you provide video chat

If you want customers to utilize your video chat services, you need to ensure that they know it’s an option.

So, once you’ve implemented video chat as a customer engagement channel, it’s important to consider how you’re going to tell consumers about it.

Businesses can advertise the launch of their video contact center through a number of mediums, including:

  • Press releases
  • Email campaigns or newsletters
  • Social media announcements
  • Blog posts

However you decide to get the word out, aim to devise a strategy that’ll reach a wide range of consumers and resonate with your target demographic.

It’s also crucial to make it clear to your website visitors that video chat is available to them - you can’t rely on them stumbling across it by accident.

A great way to achieve this is by leveraging website engagement tools. With Talkative, for example, you can configure pop-ups or proactive nudges that highlight video chat availability and encourage customers to start an interaction.

You can also embed an eye-catching widget onto your website that’ll promote your video chat services without disrupting the user experience.

By emphasizing your video chat offerings to your customers and website visitors, you’ll demonstrate a commitment to innovation and delivering next-level customer service.

You’ll also boost the adoption rate of video calls - leading to more interactions and increased customer engagement.

customer using chat widget on business website

2. Offer on-demand and scheduled video calls

Offering both on-demand and scheduled video calls is one of the best ways to improve the customer experience.

On-demand, or live video chat, allows customers to instantly start a video call whenever they need support.

Imagine encountering an urgent issue or needing immediate assistance with a complex problem.

With on-demand video support, help is just a click away.

Customers simply click the video call button on your website, and they’re immediately connected to an agent in real time - all within their browser.

This allows for instant troubleshooting, quick resolutions, and visual demonstrations tailored to the customer’s unique situation.

On the other hand, scheduled video chat grants customers the convenience of booking an appointment at a time that suits their schedule.

By integrating an easy-to-use scheduling system into your website (e.g. Calendly), customers can select a preferred date and time for their video call.

This approach is particularly beneficial for more complex consultations, product demos, or situations where customers prefer a dedicated time slot for undivided attention.

Fortunately, the Talkative platform allows for both live and scheduled video calls - so you’ll have all covers based.

By providing both on-demand and scheduled video calls, you’ll provide maximum flexibility and convenience for your customers - whether they require immediate support or prefer to plan their video interactions ahead of time.

video chat interaction with customer an contact center agent

3. Train your video chat agents

If you want your video call center to succeed, it’s vital that your agents are empowered with comprehensive training.

Video calls bring new elements to customer interactions that agents need to be prepared for.

So, it’s important that you devise and provide training that’s specific to video chat - in addition to your usual training and onboarding processes.

Here are some important aspects to focus on when it comes to video chat-specific training:

  • Technical proficiency: Ensure that your agents are well-versed in using the video chat software, handling agent call controls, and troubleshooting technical issues that customers may encounter. Agents should be comfortable navigating the platform to create a professional and seamless customer experience.
  • Customer-centric communication: Teach your agents communicative skills such as active listening, empathy, and building rapport. Agents should maintain a friendly and personable demeanor while also being attentive to the customer’s needs and emotions during a video call.
  • Non-verbal cues: During video calls, non-verbal cues become more prominent, such as facial expressions and body language. Agents should be trained to be mindful of their own non-verbal communication and pay attention to that of the customers, responding accordingly.
  • Collaboration: Agents need to be proficient in using collaborative tools like screen sharing and cobrowsing to provide customers with visual or hands-on assistance. This is particularly useful for product demonstrations and guiding customers through your website.
  • Conflict resolution: Ensure that your agents are equipped with effective conflict resolution skills, as video calls may present more emotional or challenging situations than other forms of communication. Agents should be prepared to handle conflicts, frustration, and rude customers calmly and professionally.
  • Security and privacy: It’s crucial to emphasize the importance of data security and customer privacy during video calls. Make sure your agents are trained to handle sensitive information securely and to follow your business’ data protection guidelines.

Continuous coaching, feedback, and workshops can reinforce these skills and ensure that your agents become experts in managing video interactions.

You can also use video chat transcripts or recordings from previous video interactions with customers to demonstrate the training theory in practice.

a well-trained contact center agent

4. Ensure a professional appearance

As video chat is a visual medium, it’s vital that you take steps to convey a professional image.

During a video call, the visual presentation of an agent and their surroundings becomes a significant aspect of the overall customer experience.

To help your agents maintain a professional appearance during video calls, take note of the following considerations:

  • Dress code: Agents should adhere to a dress code that aligns with your brand’s industry, image, and customer expectations. Typically, this involves maintaining a clean and well-groomed appearance while dressing in business casual or professional attire (e.g. men's tailored suits).
  • Workspace: Agents should pay attention to their workspace during video calls. The visible background should be tidy and free from any clutter or items that could be considered unprofessional or distracting. Alternatively, you can conceal your agents’ surroundings with virtual backgrounds or blurring.
  • Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial for ensuring that the agent’s face is clearly visible during the call. Advise your agents to avoid sitting with a window or bright light source directly behind them, as it can create a silhouette effect and make it challenging for customers to see the agent’s facial expressions.
  • Posture: Agents should be mindful of their posture and body language during video calls. Sitting up straight, maintaining a professional demeanor, and appropriate non-verbal cues are important for projecting confidence and attentiveness.
  • Eye contact: Encourage agents to maintain eye contact with the camera, as it gives the impression of direct eye contact with the customer. This helps to establish a sense of connection and engagement.
  • Environment: Agents should be provided with a calm and quiet environment where they can take video calls with minimal distractions. This will reduce the risk of potential interruptions or background noise that could impact the quality of the interaction.

Remember that projecting a professional appearance during video calls not only enhances customer perceptions of your business but also boosts the agent’s confidence and credibility.

Coaching and reminders on maintaining professionalism and appearance can help agents present themselves in the best possible manner during video chat interactions.

smartly dressed agent on video call with customer

5. Use the right video chat provider

Once you’ve decided to implement video chat as a customer support channel, you need to find the right software provider.

It’s important to choose a video chat solution that aligns with your business needs and goals. By doing so, you’ll lay the foundation for success with your video chat endeavors.

You can start by determining your requirements for video chat functionality.

Decide what the primary use case will be for video calls within your business - whether that be remote sales, customer support, or something else. Think about what you want to get out of video chat and the features you’ll need to achieve this.

Once you’ve defined your requirements, you can conduct market research and assess your options. 

When you’re evaluating different video chat solutions, be sure to consider the following factors:

  • User experience: Is the platform user-friendly, accessible, and intuitive? Is the video and audio quality to a high standard with minimal lag or delays? Does the software provide all the additional features your agents need? Are there customization options so you can make your video chat experience fully on-brand?
  • Integrations: Is the software compatible with your existing systems? Does it support the integrations you need (e.g. integration with your CRM or social media channels)?
  • Analytics: Does the solution come with comprehensive analytics, reporting, and monitoring capabilities? Are data visualization tools provided (e.g. a dashboard editor)? Can it be integrated with Google Analytics?
  • Scalability: Will the provider be able to scale up or down depending on your video chat usage and adoption rate? Can the software expand alongside your business to accommodate changing needs?
  • Security: Does the provider have robust data and security measures in place? Are there clear policies and controls for handling sensitive information and protecting user privacy? Is the software compliant with the relevant regulations for your industry?
  • Cost: Is the cost of the software within your budget? Does the provider offer a pricing plan that suits your business? Is there a free-trial option so you can test the platform before committing to a paid plan?

At Talkative, we pride ourselves on ticking all these boxes when it comes to delivering an innovative video chat solution.

With our platform, you’ll enjoy a one-of-a-kind video call experience that’ll delight your customers and empower your agents.

video contact center agent surrounded by customers

6. Implement video chat alongside other channels

While video chat is a valuable tool for digital customer service, it’s not the most suitable channel for every interaction.

Different consumers have different communicative preferences - and some cases are more suited to a video call than others.

That’s why it’s essential that video chat isn’t the only option you provide.

Case in point, imagine there are two individuals reaching out for customer support via a business website.

One is an existing customer who just wants an order status update for their recent online purchase. The other is a potential customer who requires personalized advice and wants to discuss which product/s would be most appropriate for their specific situation.

Clearly, it’s the second consumer here who would benefit most from a video call consultation. 

The first scenario, on the other hand, is a straightforward query that could be swiftly resolved via a live chat or chatbot interaction.

The best way to offer other channels, in addition to video chat, is by investing in an omnichannel customer engagement solution like Talkative.

That way, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition between all channels - from chatbot to live chat to web calls to video chat to cobrowse - and all within a single pane of glass.

By leveraging video chat as part of an omnichannel solution, you’ll ensure that every customer is catered for - and that they can connect with you via all their favorite digital touchpoints.

happy customer enjoying omnichannel options

7. Continuously monitor and improve performance

It’s important that you don’t become complacent with your video chat customer service - and that’s where performance management comes in.

Monitoring your video chat performance and continuously striving to improve is essential for long-term success.

You can achieve this by tracking the right metrics and video KPIs, including:

  • Number of video chat interactions
  • Average Handling Times
  • CSAT score
  • First Call Resolution Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Average Wait Time
  • Abandonment rate
  • Website visitor to video chat interaction ratio

This data will allow you to evaluate your overall performance and identify any areas or processes that require improvement.

You should also actively collect customer feedback on your video chat support and use this valuable resource to inform your customer service goals and strategy.

business performance target graphic

The takeaway

It’s evident that technology like video chat is paving the way for the future of customer service.

By adhering to the best practices detailed in this guide, you can harness the power of video calls to provide outstanding support and the ultimate digital customer experience.

But you also need the right video chat solution for your brand. One that’s specifically tailored to your business needs.

That’s where Talkative comes in.

Our solution provides a complete suite of engagement channels that’ll empower your agents to connect instantly, and effortlessly, with all your digital customers.

As a primary feature of our platform, Talkative’s video chat comes with a myriad of features to help you engage and convert more customers - from next-level analytics to countless integrations, on-demand and scheduled video chat, virtual backgrounds, advanced agent controls, and much more.

It means you’ll be fully equipped to wow your high-value customers with a forward-thinking video experience they won’t find elsewhere.

Want to learn more?

Book a demo with us today and discover how you can power premium video chat customer service with Talkative.

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