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Video's Inflection Point: It's Time to Jump on the Bandwagon

By Mike Runda, SVP & President, Avaya Client Services

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Mike Runda, SVP & President, Avaya Client Services

Six lessons learned to help your organization deliver award-winning video customer support

Video is fundamentally transforming how people work, play and connect every day. It has become second nature for people in a variety of settings to use video: the 17-year-old senior connecting with her high school friends; the lawyers working together on a merger in Tokyo, London and Los Angeles; and the new father showing the current state of a crib being built to a contact center agent eager to help him finish the project.

"As video becomes a regular part of daily life, there is growing interest in video chat for customer service and engagement"

It should come as no surprise that video has reached an in­flection point in 2015. For several years, video has appeared on our list of communications trends to watch. In fact, this year it was trend #2, “Video support reaches an inflection point—if you snooze, you lose.”

Across the industry spectrum, we’re seeing companies adopt video in creative ways. For example, hospitality leaders Carnival Cruise Line, Disney’s EPCOT Center and Universal Studios have placed two-way, live-video kiosks in high-touch spots. Banks are inviting customers to connect with contact center agents at vid­eo-enabled ATMs. Doctors’ offices, hospitals and visiting nurses are joining in the video movement, with the goal of reducing re-admissions and healthcare costs. Insurance agents are looking for property damage, dispense claims, and limit fraud via video. Among field service agents in a variety of industries, video is now a common and valuable support tool.

Consumers are beginning to demand video, too. A recent sur­vey by BT, found that, “As video becomes a regular part of daily life, there is growing interest in video chat for customer service and engagement.” The survey findings showed that of 5,500 re­spondents:

• 63 percent want to use video chat to communicate with organi­zations.

• 59 percent would like video on phone calls to see the agent and discuss complex issues.

• 25 percent use Facetime/Skype two or three times a week or more.

• 34 percent use YouTube first to research new products (not search engine).

Customer satisfaction scores in the client service group reinforce these findings. Since becoming the first enterprise support service center to introduce both one-way and two-way video in March 2014, we have seen higher average customer satisfaction (CSat) scores for video interactions than for standard chat: 4.36 vs. 4.27 (5-point custom­er satisfaction scale). This is a remarkable shift in a short time.

Is your organization looking to add video for customer engagement or in support of field services?

Here are some valuable lessons we’ve learned in the past two years:

Train Employees–At first, the thought of using video can be terrifying for contact center employees. Yet one of our early learning was that trained properly, agents actually like being on camera.

Have candid talks with your IT group–Video used to be horribly expensive because of bandwidth costs, so IT depart­ments typically discouraged it. But technology has advanced dramatically; high definition, low bandwidth solutions are now available, providing suitable return on investment.

Make it two-way for customers–We started with two-way video in our contact centers, and some of our clients weren’t ready to be seen, and they didn’t know how to act on video. Now we give them a choice between one-way and two-way video, and we’re finding that repeat customers are getting used to the whole video experience, so they tend to ask for a two-way connection.

Develop an HR policy that reflects the corporate image– Tattoos and nose rings may not be appropriate in a video cus­tomer service setting. If an HR policy regarding proper dress and grooming doesn’t already exist, work with your HR de­partment to devise one initially, and then refine it over time as your experience grows.

Think about the environment–Just as the background be­hind an agent is important, so is the area the agent sits in. Is it professional and appropriate for your particular industry or company culture? Is the workplace formal or business casual? Is uniformity necessary?

Consider local customs–Given today’s global business en­vironment, be sure to check into local-country regulations and work council rules for customers and employees that relate to audio/video recordings and business operations.

Cost efficiencies made possible by advancements in tech­nology are making ubiquitous video possible in retail and hos­pitality settings, contact centers, health care and field services operations, among others. These efficiencies will drive further adoption across industries, making video an even greater com­petitive differentiator in coming years. The six leading prac­tices shared above can help your organization make a smooth transition to video in the contact center and field services. Have you considered how many different ways video can cre­ate a wow factor across your organization’s value chain?

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