August 30, 2013
Video Customer Service May Provide Customer Service Organizations with a Competitive Edge
By Tracey E. Schelmetic TMCnet Contributor
When you think about a great customer experience you had recently, chances are, it took place either in person or over the telephone. The more interaction we have with an agent or salesperson, the more immersive and personal the experience. Few people ever rave about the service they got via a chat. Not that the chat didn’t solve their problem, but it’s tricky for an agent to leave an indelible positive mark on a customer interaction in instant messaging format.
It’s a matter of synchronous versus asynchronous communications. Asynchronous communications are those in which individuals communicate at varying times, responding to one another not necessarily in real-time…think e-mail or chat. Synchronous communication, our most interpersonal way of communicating, involves interacting in real-time. It’s a more human way of communicating. Aside from being in the same room with another person, there is no more personal, synchronous way of communicating than via video.
For this reason, many call center experts believe that video conferencing will be a major way forward for organizations that wish to offer the highest standard of customer service. It’s more personal than any Web-based method and even has an edge over the telephone (which is still customers’ preferred method of communication). It can allow agents or help desk personnel to demonstrate products or services (“Here’s how to reset your modem,” for example) and can provide a kind of connection that only face-to-face interaction can.
Image via Shutterstock
In a recent white paper, Avaya (News - Alert) wrote that video could eventually replace phone calls as the cornerstone of the customer experience.
“These high-tech tools can extend capabilities and increase customer satisfaction scores without cutting into live agent productivity. One such tool is today’s high-performance, highly mobile video chat. It connects customers to agents in real time, on virtually any network or device.”
Because video conferencing is mobile, it could be highly ubiquitous: customers could contact an agent via video as easily as they can send a text message now.
So what’s keeping video from moving forward? In years past, it was the lack of workable technology. This is no longer the case. In a recent article for the Web site NoJitter.com, communications industry analyst Sheila McGee-Smith writes that video in a customer service environment is a technology in search of an application. “Just because we can” isn’t a good enough reason for companies to chase video in a serious way…yet. A good “in” for video, she writes, is language translation.
LanguageLine Solutions (News - Alert), a language interpretation service for businesses that uses bilingual agents to assist organization that need to interact with another company or individual in a foreign language, has primarily worked over the telephone. Recently the company has added a Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) service called LanguageUc. The service literally provides a nicely dressed, video-linked individual who acts as an interpreter for both parties on the call.
While it’s a narrow application, others are likely to rise. As telemedicine comes to the fore in an effort to control healthcare costs, the possibility of consultations with nurses, physicians or other health professionals via video conferencing before scheduling an appointment becomes compelling. Companies can use video to create customized “how to” demonstrations for specialized products, and high-end products and services could offer a video component.
Whatever the reason for it, it’s the personal touch that video conferencing will add that could be a way for companies to differentiate themselves from competition. Not everyone will want to use video (“I have to fix my hair to talk to a call center rep?”), but for those that do, it’s a compelling choice that could provide a customer support organization with a significant advantage.
Edited by Blaise McNamee