If we’re using video for meetings, to speak with our friends and family and to consume all types of media and entertainment, why are so many contact centers and agents still relying on phone calls?
Being blinded to what your customer’s pain point is doesn’t only impact efficiency but also has a profound effect on building rapport and a better brand experience.
We are living in the video era. Consider the history:
- Mobile phones dominated the 1990s as an emerging technology that hit the mainstream, giving billions of people the ability to be always available and connected via their phones.
- The early 2000s saw the explosion of better and more complex mobile phones which also served as computers, cameras, and web-connected devices. SMS messaging and basic games like “snake” became the norm, adding more visually rich and exciting tools to take pictures, share images, create and distribute documents, and ultimately be always plugged in.
- The social media revolution of the 2010s changed the way we publish and distribute content with others - and the world started taking, sharing, seeing, and storing insane amounts of pictures. The thirst for visual content was leveraged by companies like Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook.
During the past 10 years, the focus has been on video. Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and other platforms moved the world towards visual real-time connection. Communications platforms and social networks also began moving towards video content as it is undoubtedly the most engaging form we have. Think of YouTube, TikTok, or even Netflix.
Video is a more gratifying and appealing way to be informed, educated, and entertained. And, on top of just sheer entertainment and education, thousands of contact centers are now using video to empower agents with the tools they need to engage quickly and efficiently with customers.
However, there is still a lot of room for adoption, especially when it comes to emerging video technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) which can significantly improve the experience of video interactions.
Why Does Video Matter for Agent Productivity?
Agent productivity and success rely on many factors. How agent teams are trained, managed, and motivated is key for them to deliver optimal experiences for customers.
Making interactions shorter and more pleasant to achieve faster problem resolution is probably the most obvious way to benchmark success. A quick and positive interaction with an agent as part of the customer journey will have a lasting impact on customer satisfaction, brand affinity, and loyalty.
Contact centers are crucial teams that go beyond support. In many cases, the agent will be the face of the brand and often the first “human” a customer interacts with regarding a product or service purchased.
But the downside of a poor agent experience results in dissatisfied customers who need to speak with multiple representatives, repeat themselves, and ultimately end up frustrated from the inefficient way in which their queries or issues are handled. Of course, inefficient processes are also demoralizing and frustrating to customer agents who aren’t capable of resolving problems quickly.
There are many technologies that help contact centers and their agents become more efficient. In some companies, chatbots are used as an initial screening process to effectively route the customers to the right agents when needed.
Self-service and automated solutions are the holy grail for most companies. It would be ideal if customers could find the information they need or solve problems autonomously. It doesn’t matter if this is done online, via a chatbot, a pre-recorded guided video, or even leveraging technologies such as AR.
After all, customers also prefer to manage their issues themselves and solve any problem without having to go through the motions of asking for help. According to the Harvard Business Review, 81% of all customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative - across industries.
In reality, the utopia of a fully automated or self-service customer support experience will never be viable. There will always be a need for an accessible human on the other end of the line, computer, or chat.
Putting Video at the Heart of Contact Center Communications
A picture tells a thousand words. In an industry that is still vastly ruled by text and voice communications, introducing pictures and video can totally transform agent interactions.
The biggest optimization is time. Think about how long it takes for a customer to explain a situation which could be easily understood by an agent looking at a video of the product. If agents can see through a customer’s phone camera, they can easily and accurately identify what the product, issue, or challenge is and guide them in real-time to take the necessary steps to resolve almost any problem.
We have all experienced the frustration of listening through an explanation via phone and not really understanding which is the right button to press, struggling to find something an agent is referring to, or simply not being sure if you’re following instructions correctly.
Having access to video doesn't only make an agent's job more efficient, it also makes it more pleasant.
Similarly, agents can’t fully know if the recipient is following their guidance adequately. Using video is the best way to make interactions with support teams efficient and effective. Whether used to set up or fix a home appliance, troubleshoot a Wi-Fi router, adjust an insulin pump, or simply to find a reference number on a utilities bill - the opportunities are endless.
Here are the impacts that video communications can have:
- Faster call resolution. On average, our customers using video report an average of double-digit speed improvement (over 10%) over voice only on shorter calls. For some customers, adding video has doubled the capacity of their existing customer agents.
- Increased customer satisfaction. There’s a direct link between a shorter interaction and customer satisfaction. People want to spend as little time as possible talking to an agent to solve their issue.
- Reduced returns, refunds, and truck rolls. When there is no resolution over the phone or email, customers will end up asking for refunds, returning products, receiving new ones, or requiring in-home technician visits. These are all incredibly expensive outcomes which can often be avoided or resolved with the clarity that visuals provide through a video call or virtual visit.
- We have found that for many companies leveraging video to inspect or fix an issue the higher resolution rate with this technology means that they are able to decrease the technician or engineer dispatch rate by 20%-40%.
Finally, there is increased agent productivity. Having access to video doesn’t only make an agent’s job more efficient, it also makes it more pleasant. Being blinded to the situation on the ground or trying to figure out a product model or issue with incomplete information over a call can be as frustrating to agents as it is to customers.
All of the above are ultimately contributing towards building a stronger bond with your brand. A faster resolution with a more pleasant and efficient video interaction has the potential to turn frustrated customers into brand advocates.
AI, AR, and Video
Virtual visits or video calls are the first step and for most companies remains the low-hanging fruit to immediately super-charge their contact centers with efficient video communications.
However, video technologies also open the door to other sophisticated solutions that can help agent productivity even further. With companies increasingly competing to win customers based on their experiences, it’s no surprise that 59% of executives in the U.S. say that they’re leveraging AI to enhance customer service.
AI and AR technologies used to be expensive and slow to deploy for a wide range of applications, like video, but this is changing fast.
Over the past five years improvements in them mean that videos can show much more than what the naked eye sees. They can be used as the basis for technologies that help agents and/or customers to identify issues or guide them on how to proceed to address their issues. Companies that already have the infrastructure to use video no longer have to retool to adopt AI technologies that add a layer of efficiency.
Imagine if your team of agents was able to access the intelligence from a visual knowledge base that has analyzed similar issues thousands of times. Just like doctors are increasingly using AI to analyze scans for more accurate diagnostics, agents will be able to provide better and more accurate solutions to customers with the help of AI.
Empowering Agent Teams With Technology
Service leaders are currently under a lot of pressure to reduce costs while meeting the increasing demand for improved customer service experiences.
A recent survey from TechSee found that 63% of customers say that adding a visual component to the service experience makes them feel better understood, and 48% more customers would prefer to receive visual instructions over verbal.
The survey also found that customers believe that AI is the answer, with 73% of respondents saying that self-service AI would improve the experience to diagnose an issue, and 56% were confident that visual AI could help agents provide better service.
While embracing video is a no-brainer for contact centers, there are four key elements that need to be considered by contact centers to be able to provide a satisfactory video experience.
1. Use the right type of video to identify the right type of call. Agents need to decide what type of video is best for a specific situation.
For example, for a sales call, a two-way video might be better to establish a relationship with the customer. If this is the case, it will be important to have a pleasant background for the interaction.
For a tech support video, one-way video is often the best solution since neither the customer nor the agent need to go on camera and the only thing that needs to be on video is the product that requires inspection by the agent (i.e., a home appliance).
Finally, in some cases, such as when a customer needs help understanding a bill, a video which captures screenshots can be extremely helpful to manage the situation.
2. Adding layer of AR. Adding the capabilities for the agent to draw lines, circles, or add visual guidance to the video can be very useful for some types of interactions. Thinking about this in advance can supercharge the video communication and really simplify the way things are explained by agents on top of the video through simple visual cues and pointers.
3. Integration with the agent’s CRM or data platform. Can the video be launched quickly by an agent? Transitioning to a video interaction needs to be as simple as clicking a button.
If agents need to rely on multiple platforms, such as separate video software that can’t be triggered within their CRM platform, it can make the experience cumbersome for both customers and agents.
In addition, if your video solution is integrated with your CRM, there is the added benefit of being able to keep the video from the interaction inside your customer’s records in case you need to refer back to it in the future.
4. Ease of use from a customer perspective. Once the customer is with the agent, they’ll expect seamless communications. If a customer is required to install an app so they can then join or share a video it can become a problem.
Make sure your video solution supports mobile and PC, so agents are able to handle any type of customer. In addition, it is key that your video solution supports native switching from phone to video without interrupting the call. You want to avoid a fragmented experience at all costs and keep customer efforts to a minimum.
Finally, it is important to be equipped with a solution where video works in a low bandwidth situation - remember that not every customer will have an optimal internet connection during the call.
Seeing it Through
The technology is here, customers are keen to use it, and it can significantly help everyone communicate better. In a way, it could be argued that video is no longer a luxury in a contact center but a necessity to operate successfully. With virtually every customer holding a smartphone while talking to an agent, switching on their cameras can be a gateway to help agents perform better and faster.
Of course, the next step will be to leverage these cameras to work intelligently to an agent’s advantage. Just like they’re able to interpret a QR code, they’re able to scan codes, serial numbers, and even identify products or problems with computer vision.
The opportunities are endless, and for an industry that is ripe for change, seeking digital transformation, and desperate to optimize agent productivity, how video technologies are adopted will determine the success of contact centers in the coming years.