Video As a Customer Service Tool?

Let's be honest, video as a servicing channel has been an underachiever. Even with the rise of the millennial consumer and the growing necessity to embrace alternative servicing channels like email, text, web chat, mobile, and even social media, somehow video took a detour along the omnichannel customer journey. But thanks to benefits like improved efficiency and oversight, reduced customer effort, improved customer and agent engagement, and cost savings, video might finally be back on the road toward inclusion in the contact center.

Video has become ubiquitous in our digital world. There is growing familiarity with video, and customers accept it as a business, entertainment, education, and communication channel. Thanks to WebEx, GoToMeeting, YouTube, Blackboard, FaceTime, and Skype, among others, video is a routine, if not daily mode of communication.

Using video as a servicing channel in the contact center is a natural extension of its inherent ability to establish a virtual connection, bridging time and distance to bring people together. Video puts a face to a voice, be it the face of a contact center agent, banker, doctor, sales rep, technician, etc., and by extension the organization or company itself. Video interactions are a more dynamic, enriched, and personalized communication forum that promotes higher levels of agent and customer engagement and satisfaction.

Video Benefits Many Verticals

As companies increasingly appreciate the essential role of customer service, they are looking to use video as a communication channel due to its broad appeal and applicability across multiple verticals and industries. Video is ideal for eliminating the cost, time, and effort associated with activities that have traditionally required physical presence. At the same time, video improves the customer experience by extending service beyond the geographical reach and hours of brick-and-mortar locations. Video improves the co-browsing experience by facilitating joint document review, technical configuration, product assembly, or troubleshooting. Window shopping takes on a new meaning, as video shopping replicates the in-store retail experience for anything from basic accessories to automobiles.

Insurance, utilities, and field services organizations can leverage video for on-scene damage assessment, remote collaboration, and visual communication with field services or emergency personnel, reducing the cost and effort and providing improved oversight of operations. Video enhances doctor-patient engagement and improves compliance with protocol, enabling doctors to make virtual house calls to regularly assess elderly or immobile patients or virtually collaborate with specialists or other doctors. For patients whose family or friends aren't nearby, video chat can provide much-needed encouragement and emotional support to promote recovery. Video visitation can also be applied in the legal realm, enabling attorneys to virtually interview witnesses or meet with incarcerated clients.

Impact of Video for Contact Centers

There are many practical issues to consider before hitting the go-live switch on video. Foremost, video is a visual channel; relaxed dress codes that are acceptable for contact centers are not appropriate for video agents, who need to dress in a manner that reflects the company's and brand's image.

Since video mimics face-to-face interactions, agents must have excellent presentation skills and feel at ease in front of the camera; non-verbal cues can make or break a positive customer experience.

As the workplace becomes increasingly virtual, video is playing a major role in the recruitment and hiring process, including video resumes, virtual interviewing, and the oversight and engagement of new employees, particularly for at-home agents and geographically dispersed contact centers.

Use of video technologies might mean that quality evaluation criteria will also need to be revised; this could affect compensation, as well, because video-enabled agents might want to receive higher pay for their somewhat specialized skill set.

Another consideration is that contact centers are densely populated and noisy, so agents who support video channels might need to be physically segregated from the rest of the department.

Although pervasive elsewhere, video is still an emerging channel in contact centers, and it is viewed as a service differentiator. Video offers a wide range of benefits, including the cost savings associated with doing face-to-face interactions without travel, improved efficiencies from demonstration ("show me") versus articulation ("tell me"), improved first contact resolution due to the ability to collaborate, corroborate, and confirm, and the ability to generate incremental revenue with fewer returns. DMG expects that the use of video for service and support inside and outside of contact centers will pick up momentum as public and private organizations appreciate the many contributions it can make to their business and their customers or constituents.

Donna Fluss is founder and president of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research and consulting.