In the following write up we will try to answer this question by providing information about the state of the industry (early 2015) and by taking into consideration human behavior patterns, market trends and needs.
Good video chat interaction requires good trained agents that understand the tool and like personal interaction with customers. There are a lot of benefits from personal engagement, yet video chat is recommended only to the ones that can allocate the needed resources to embrace the technology.
As with other interactive trends such as social networks and textual chat, the social trend set the foundations for similar trend in the business world. If we look back at textual chat services such as AOL’s Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ, they set up the foundations for commercial chat that several websites now use. Similarly, Facebook, where initially members of generation Y were the only one to have their own personal pages, today every company that respects itself has its own page and a team of people to respond to each posting.
As a result of improved technologies and better hardware, the popularity and usage of video chat tools have been gaining momentum over the past year through services such as Apple’s Face Time, Google Hangouts, and Skype to name a few.
We are now, for the first time, starting to see a social trend in the area of video chat. In the business world, companies such as Gotomeeting and Webex also have been upgrading their video chat services as the demand started to increase. Yet, services through those environments are based on the idea that the participants have some knowledge of (or prior connection to) the other people in the meeting as they all were invited to the specific session and are okay (both in terms of willingness and technical limitation) if there is a need to download a certain software or an app.
The main leap into spontaneous video chat in business use was made when Amazon launched the Mayday button on its Kindle device in 2013. It was not only the delivery of 24/7 support via video chat, but in the words of the eCommerce giant’s management team, it offered customers “a way to bring tech support from the mall to your living room”.
Given that “game changer” approach to customer service, businesses have increasingly been offering video chat to their customers as an option to provide better customer service. By doing so, businesses are meeting new emerging demand by Millennial generation for a personal customer service.
Video chat engagement
A customer needs help and wants to talk to a person not via textual chat but in-person with a human being that is focused on them. The agent appears in video and talks to the customer as if they are sitting in the very same room.
For a session to be successful, the agent must be at ease, knowledgeable of the material and focused on the customer as if they are standing in front of them in person. The company can decide if the agent should only hear the customer, or give the customer also the option to be seen.
A video chat where the agent can end up connecting with the customer on a personal level can be very rewarding. Just as you walk into a retail store, get a good service and you tell yourself I’ll be back, the same is here. Great experience will help building the relationship with the customer for a very long time.
Where does Video Chat fit?
Today, the main areas where video chat is gaining momentum are healthcare, financial services, high-end retail including real estate, and distance learning/training, where face to face interaction can make an important impact.
Additionally, there are growing indications that in mid market, which typically has found customer-facing video prohibitively expensive, the new and more affordable technologies also make video chat an attractive add on. The reason is simple, companies recognize that this mean of communication offers great customer experience, increases loyalty and revenues. It’s only a matter of time before more follow.
When should Video Chat could be used? Some example scenarios
|Acquisition cost is high||+|
|Brand loyalty is important||+|
|Customer lifetime value (CLV) is high||+|
|Healthcare: General question||+|
|Healthcare: Care related question||+|
|Finance / Banking: General question||+|
|Finance / Banking Specific topic||+|
|Government services: Topic that face to face can lead to First Call Resolution (FCR)||+|
|Retail: High priced item||+|
|Retail: One time low end item||+|
|Training: When face to face can get the materials better across to the learner||+|
Video chat that is accompanied with co-browsing session of the site as well as content often results in a much better user experience. So the combination of tools seems to more effective than just stand alone video chat capability.
Video Chat in mobile
A word about video chat via mobile. New technologies are allowing video chat interaction on mobile though with some limitations. For example, video chat can take place in the Chrome browser in an Android-based device but not iOS.
SDK solutions let companies add video chat to native mobile applications if so desired. Here as well, there is a growing interest in those capabilities that stem from portability of the devices as well as the flexibility they give users in time of a real need for assistance. The functionality is specifically valuable in times of emergency, be it health-related for example.
Briefly, today due to the wide popularity of Chrome and Firefox and the superior quality of audio and video chat in WebRTC, this technology has become the most popular for browser-based video chat. Alternatively, with browsers that do not support WebRTC (mainly IE and Safari), Flash can be used. WebRTC is also used in in-app SDKs. Using the combination of technologies, a wide range of users can be catered for.
When choosing a video technology in mobile it is recommended to check performance and battery usage of old devices to make sure that the SDK will not cause any issues. A good supplier should provide an easy and logical user experience to get the most of such technologies.
The ability to communicate with your customers and interact with them is part of the fundamentals of any trade. Video chat interaction is the “Internet’s” way for people to communicate in-person while far. As more “day to day” activities are shifting to the web, the need for such interaction is only growing.
Offer video chat if you want to build your online brand, increase customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty. Nevertheless, you must make the commitment to have the right people in place to do that right. Video chat is going to become a differentiator when it comes to providing quality customer service as you would be standing face to face with the customer and you or your representative would need to service them right there and then as they are next to you and do it well.