Filling the Customer Service Void with Video




  • by Vanessa Kirchner-Leida April 2, 2016
    April 2, 2016

    You may be wondering why video is becoming such a popular customer service option.


    Well, remember the days when the majority of customer transactions and communications were face-to-face? I recall the sincere and welcoming bank teller when I arrived at my local branch to deposit a check or visiting the über-friendly travel agent to book my family’s vacation.


    In today’s exploding online and omnichannel world, customer communications have become increasingly automated and robotic, shifting from face-to-face to face-to-screen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel the love.


    When I need customer support, more often than not I am communicating from behind my laptop or mobile device to a faceless virtual world. Even just talking on the phone has become antiquated for many companies offering support services.


    Adding video for visual engagement

    Technological advances in customer transactions continues to make our lives more convenient. There’s no real intrinsic need to walk into the bank when I can deposit a check via the drive-through ATM or my smartphone, for that matter. And it’s simple to book my family’s vacation online without dealing with anyone in the process.


    At the same time, too often the human component has fallen by the wayside. Face-to-screen business communication isn’t always living up to it greatness. When the human touch is absent, the virtual world can be lonely, frustrating, and, at times, a subpar experience.


    The truth is people still yearn for a friendly, personal environment, even online. The good news is that online businesses are recognizing the need to fill this social bond. Innovative visual engagement tools such as cobrowsing, screen sharing, and video are making the virtual world a smaller, friendlier place, and customers are responding positively. Gartner predicts that “…over 100 of the 500 largest global businesses will introduce video-based chat by 2018 for customer-facing interactions.”


    Trust and calming – benefits of video chat

    Customers trust an agent more when using video because they can connect a face to a name or voice. Moreover, customers feel supported when the agent’s facial expressions display an affirming presence. This trust greatly increases the quality of the conversation and builds relationships over time. Body language and facial expressions are essential to trusting, dynamic, and effective communication. Important aspects of the message are sorely missed when limited to just voice or text.


    Video also produces a calming effect when employed. Many customers contacting support are frustrated. They are often experiencing a problem and need help fast. With video involved, customers immediately see a smiling and welcoming face. Their exasperation is diffused instantly with these visual cues alone. The agent can engage customers through direct eye contact and positive head nods. This non-verbal communication continues to show customers that the agent is personally and fully engaged to assist them in any way possible.


    An emotional, social connection is now firmly established.


    When other dynamic visual engagement tools (such as cobrowse or screen sharing) are incorporated into the conversation too, customers’ frustration continues to wane and the calming effect continues to strengthen. Both agents and customers can now see first-hand what is on their screens and/or browsers. This visual engagement makes it crystal clear what they are both talking about. Effortless collaboration and problem solving ensue!


    Video needed for visual learners

    Another advantage to using video is to help visual learners.


    People have different learning styles. Some learn best by just hearing information. For others, learning is much more effective when they can see the information as well. Visual learners need to associate images to what they are hearing to fully grasp concepts.


    Video is also great for the hearing and/or speaking impaired community. Seeing a person talk makes a HUGE difference in their understanding.


    Building new relationships

    Visual engagement humanizes customer interactions, builds trust and relationships, and fills the void of impersonal, faceless communication. Sometimes it can even build relationships in new ways.


    Take, for example, Visterra Credit Union. This organization added video chat to its main branch drive-through ATM. When customers pull up, they are pleasantly surprised: a smiling, friendly, live teller now appears on the ATM screen and can interact with them.


    What a golden opportunity to forge a new relationship in such an unlikely place! Customers also report feeling safer knowing that someone can see them while they’re using the ATM.


    Positive impact to the bottom line

    The positive effects of video on the customer experience can account for improvements to important key performance indicators (KPIs) related to the company’s overall health as well:



    • Increase customer loyalty. Better customer experience can spread to an overall boost in customer loyalty.
    • Reduce call handling time (CHT). Since visual communication is clear and more effective, calls are handled, on average, in less time.
    • Raise first call resolution (FCR) rates and lower call-backs. Issues are more likely to be resolved the first time around, so there’s no need for customers to call back with a similar issue.
    • Grow conversion rates. If an agent is helping customers using video chat, the customers are more likely to hear out the agent and not hang up. (It’s human nature to be more polite when you can see the other person.) For example, if an agent is helping customers shop online, those customers are less likely to abandon their shopping cart before the purchase is complete. In addition, if the agent tries to upsell them with other related products, they are more likely to listen and buy.

    Seeing matters

    Despite advances in technology, visual engagement is still king. People want and need to interact with other humans, not just software algorithms. Isn’t it nice to have the welcoming bank teller back AND the convenience of not having to leave your car? A win-win deal for all!

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