When I was on the phone recently with my website provider, I really would have liked to have had a video connection. I am certain that I could have gotten more out of the call if it was video. At least it was a real time call and not through e-mail. The voice inflections gave me enough doubt to go ahead and pursue an alternate provider. Then again, video might have given my web site provider the ability to instill the confidence necessary for me not to pursue and alternative provider. And that is the point. Sometimes the best way to communicate is through video.
Someday our one on one communications will be mostly video. Pinpointing that exact time is difficult, but my proposition is that it will be sooner rather than later. Once the transition is in full swing, contact centers will already be fully video operable. Even today, there are some trends that will make video communications between callers and agents viable for many. Some of the trends are:
- Inexpensive Video Services Available on any Computer
- Smartphones and Tablets with Front and Rear Cameras
- Push Technologies to Computers and Mobile devices
- A Growing Comfort Level with Video Communications
- The Greater Collaborative Experience with Video
Inexpensive Video Services Available on any Computer
With free, freemium and low cost access to video communications, more and more people are taking the plunge and communicating with friends and family over video. The new adoption of video within social media makes video calling extremely easy, eliminating the need for users to download and configure software. So just about anyone that wants to can join a service and start seeing the person on the other side. It might not be the “immersive” HD experience that expensive telepresence units have, but it sure beats voice only. And many of the “immersive” HD providers are beginning to offer extremely low cost personal clients for the home and office which could be expanded to handle video sessions for contact centers and important clients.
Smartphones with Front and Rear Cameras
Do you ever with you could just show someone your problem versus trying to describe it over the phone? This is where the smartphone can be your anytime, anywhere portal to your balky device, or stalled lawnmower or your impossible to understand assembly instructions. The shortage of strong reliable 3G and 4G/LTE signals plus the growing bandwidth charges and the throttling of bandwidth by mobility providers are potential roadblocks. But video from mobile devices is already happening and will grow to the point that it is as inexpensive as today’s voice only charges. If I can show you what is going on or what I want by pulling a smartphone out of my pocket, it just makes things easier for everybody. Customer satisfaction, first call resolution rates and speed of resolution will all be enhanced as mobile video integrates into the contact center.
Push Technologies to Computers and Mobile Devices
Mobile Push is already being used by contact centers for a variety of needs. Callers can download apps for specific contact center applications and the contact center agents can push interactive screens to the caller. Applications such as technical assistance for high end automotive mechanics and wholesale to retail product help are just two of the many applications that mobile push is doing right now. Interactive screens are easier for callers to deal with than traditional IVR’s and agents can provide greater interaction with the caller enabling them to solve issues quicker. Videos for a variety of purposes like instructional videos can be sent to mobile devices with or without agent interaction.
A video client compatible with the contact center could be utilized as a future offering for contact centers using mobile push technology. Video conference providers are beginning to offer low cost licenses for use by individuals beyond the enterprise network that are dynamic. These licenses can be used and reused repeatedly as long as you have enough to satisfy demand for them. In the future, agents may be able to send links to callers that integrate with video cloud providers to speed up the process of converting a voice only call to a collaborative video call.
A Growing Comfort Level with Video Communications
One of the factors slowing the adoption of video is the fact that many people are naturally camera shy. It is easy to meet with people and engage in a dialogue, but stick a camera in the mix and it gets to be daunting. This applies to contact center agents as well as the general public. With a little training, though, everyone can get over the first time video jitters and begin to work the camera like a pro. Plus, so many people are taking the plunge at home and in company conference rooms, that it is beginning to become second nature for a lot of people. As evidenced by the popularity of video sharing services, there is no shortage of people that are willing to use video to communicate. And the numbers are growing rapidly.
Evidence of video going mainstream is abundant in popular culture as well. Even Wendy’s encouraged people to shoot videos about Wendy’s sweet potato fries for their commercials. I must admit, I am more comfortable with video than with sweet potato fries. Then again, I have not tried sweet potato fries yet. Of course, product placements of desktop video and telepresence systems have been around for years. But, Lisa Kudrow’s hit Web Therapy takes it to a new level. Web Therapy is ninety percent shown as a computer screen video conference. And the show’s popularity as a web only offering prompted Showtime to pick it up and broadcast it with additional content. These are just a few examples of the growing acceptance of video communications.
The Greater Collaborative Experience with Video
A video call to the contact center can make a dramatic difference in customer and agent satisfaction. For the caller, you can see who you are talking to and get a better sense that your need is being addressed properly. If a caller is video enabled they can show a video enabled agent the reason they are calling and give an indication of what might need to be done for call resolution. The agent can benefit by quickly resolving issues and could gauge the possibility of up selling their caller. Plus, it is harder to yell at someone that you are looking at than it is on a voice only call. Instances of rudeness would be dramatically cut using video.
The millennial generation and upscale consumers of all generations have been using video for years now. These same demographics are also demanding quick resolution to their questions and issues. Many, perhaps most will change their buying habits after one poor experience with a contact center. So if you are company “A” and you have the capability to upgrade your contact center to include video to gain a competitive advantage against company “B”, it makes sense to do so before company “B” does it.
Some might argue that contact centers are not equipped to handle video because there is no current way to queue video callers and that there are few people that really want to communicate through video. This is much the same positioning used relative to social media integration into the contact center just a short time ago. Now that more and more contact center providers have the capability to effectively integrate social media into the contact center, the tune has changed. Now, social media integration is a “must have” for any company wanting to protect their image and effectively communicate with the public. Amazing how that perception has changed almost overnight, isn’t it?
So if you hear from contact center manufacturers or their pundits that video is not that important or too expensive or impractical or technologically unfeasible, rest assured that the R&D labs are currently working on it with breakneck speed. And when someone is ready to introduce video integration for the contact center, it will be important, inexpensive, practical, technologically feasible and a “must have” for any company wanting to effectively communicate with the public. And they will be right. After all, except for face to face contact, there is no better way to communicate than with video.