How Video-Based Customer Service Will Be a Game Changer in Customer Perception and Retention Efforts
As soon as the phone became a common household appliance, people began to envision the “picture phone.” We instinctively wanted long-distance communication that let us connect with another person visually as well as verbally.
Today, we have “picture phones” in the form of video chat, and it’s wildly popular. In 2017, there were 17 billion real-time video chats on Facebook. And Skype, Facetime and other services continue to gain popularity. Smart businesses noticed this trend and are beginning to capture the advantages of video chat to impress and retain customers.
The Advantages of Video Chat
As customer service becomes increasingly essential to companies’ success, it’s harder and harder to find an affordable edge. However, video chat, a relatively simple technology, can offer a more satisfying customer experience than other channels and even increase sales.
Better Customer Experience
Humans are wired to read faces, so when people have video of a representative, they can more easily build rapport and start to develop a personal relationship. It’s like talking to a friend.
Customers engage more when they see who they’re talking to. They can watch a representative’s body posture, eye contact and responsive nods. They don’t have to “hear the smile;” it’s there in front of them.
They’re also more likely to remember a face-to-face interaction over voice-only or text-only discussions. And when customers can see someone listening and taking them seriously, they’re more likely to trust the agent and the company.
Increased Customer Loyalty
With rich visual cues, communication over video requires less mental work than voice-only or text. And when combined with the easy access of online chat, video gives customers a quick, satisfying way to do business, which increases brand loyalty. A 2017 inContact survey found that when customers can easily connect to real people via chat, they’re more likely to stick with the company and recommend it to others.
Real-time video has been used effectively to recapture abandoned online purchases and increase web sales with live product demos that allow interested purchasers to ask questions not anticipated by the online FAQ. Connecting face-to-face with a sales person, prospects feel they’re getting personal attention; as a result, they have a more positive attitude toward the company and the product.
With 2-way video, the ability to see body language and facial expressions helps agents, as well. They can respond to subtle emotional cues indicating whether someone is agitated, calm, nervous or angry. They have a better chance of steering customers to a happy outcome before it’s too late.
Where Video Chat Is Making a Difference Today
Some industries have already taken advantage of real-time video for customer service and sales. These include travel and retail where the product price is high and the buying process difficult. Banking and healthcare have also adopted the technology to help customers navigate high-stress personal situations.
Delta Airlines is piloting video service at airport kiosks to help travelers with requests such as changing tickets or sharing feedback. The pilot is a first step to offering similar service over common platforms like Skype or Facetime.
Companies who conduct repairs or estimates at customers’ locations are using real-time video to save the cost of rolling a truck or to provide technical support for contractors. Gartner anticipates that by 2020 over 75% of field workers will have mobile apps with video.
Banks like Barclays and Royal Bank of Canada have supplemented digital channels with video chat to help depositors with complex or personal questions, such as applying for a mortgage, setting up business accounts or preparing for retirement. Even Millennial patrons who rely on digital banking for routine transactions prefer to speak with a person in these situations.
United Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente, among others, are leading a wave of live video for patient interactions. A survey of healthcare executives found that 90% are planning to implement it as part of their telemedicine initiatives.
Patients prefer the easy access of video appointments over the expense and time of an office visit, especially for follow-ups. The technology also gives rural patients better access to specialists and encourages people to keep check-ups and stick to a medication regimen.
High-end online retailers are using video chat to offer digital luxury shoppers the same personal touch as they would find in a store. Mark Buckingham, head of eCommerce at Goldsmiths jewelers, noted that their real-time sales support helped them stand out against the competition.
While contact centers may need to retrain agents for handling live video calls, the interaction is so natural, customers will probably take to it quickly. For all its advantages, video is still pretty rare in the customer service world. That’s about to change, but early adopters can enhance their brand image as a business devoted to uncommon customer service.