The Argument for Making Video a Standard Contact Center Channel

After two years of staying connected to family, friends, business associates, doctors, teachers, and others via video calls, it's surprising that companies are still debating whether they should offer it as a standard contact center channel. Apparently, this is the continuation of a discussion that started a few years ago when video was not an effective or desired service channel for many consumers, who didn't think it added anything (besides complexity) to service experiences.

One forward-thinking energy company with which I worked set up video booths in their contact center several years ago and had a team of specially trained agents to handle these interactions but had no takers. However, that was before COVID-19 shut down the world, leaving video as the safest option for face-to-face communication, which led to increased acceptance of this underutilized channel.

A lot has changed in the past few years, including the quality, availability, ease of use, and cost of video technology. Setting up video as a contact center channel is now relatively easy, although other factors, including agent training and establishing guidelines for what is considered a professional video look, are still concerns for many companies. There is also the issue of whether agents should handle video calls directly from their desks on-site or at-home locations, or if this should only be done in a more formal video setting. Using corporate-branded video backgrounds and providing agents with company apparel or specific guidelines concerning dress can help prevent inappropriate clothing or personal effects from being visible on camera. Technology is just one of many factors to take into consideration when deciding whether to make video a standard customer service channel.

One concern that no longer seems to apply is whether agents are willing to support the video channel. Prior to the pandemic, agents expressed uneasiness about video, but given the positive experiences in using video during the past couple of years, this no longer seems to be an issue. What remains a topic of discussion for contact center leaders and agents is how employees are going to be evaluated and the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to track their video service performance. This is still open for debate, but one thing is sure: evaluations cannot be based solely on average talk time/average handle time or other productivity measures, as the success of video is dependent on agents' ability to connect with customers, which might take time.

Many of the best practices that have been developed for handling the more common voice and digital transactions do not apply to video transactions. However, delivering a great customer experience (CX) is going to be similar in all channels, as customer expectations are the same (although it will become a best practice for video agents to welcome customers with a smile).

Having addressed the enterprise and employee sides of the issue, it's just as important to consider what your customers want and expect when it comes to video support. The world has changed, and it's never going to fully return to what it was before the pandemic. Where in the past most people didn't think twice about going out and visiting a branch, retail store, or business, this activity remains a concern for many people and will continue to be a serious consideration for those who are more susceptible to illness or are just fearful of COVID-19. Video has become a lifeline for these people and others who simply prefer conducting their business transactions or other types of interactions from their homes. While much of what people need to do can be accomplished via phone or other digital channels, video gives them a way to connect in a more personalized one-on-one format while maintaining a safe distance. In other words, lots of consumers have grown accustomed to using video to conduct all types of personal and business interactions, and they are not going to be quick or happy to give it up.

The bottom line is this: In the past couple of years, video has become a standard service channel for companies and customers. While the world opens back up, there are going to continue to be many people who enjoy or prefer interacting over video, either for convenience or due to concern about their health. The decision about whether contact centers should offer video has been made. Now it's time for companies to make high-quality video conversations a standard servicing channel for their customers.

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is an expert on contact centers, analytics, and back-office technology. She has 30 years of experience helping organizations build contact centers and back-office operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions. She can be reached at