Video collaboration in the customer engagement center (or contact center) makes sense for many of the same reasons the technology makes sense in other settings: When customers can see a human being on the other end of their conversations, they feel a human connection. When customer service representatives or sales staffers can see the people they’re working with, they can read nonverbal cues and facial expressions and be more responsive as a result. And when a customer experiences a problem with a product, he or she can simply show it to a company representative over the video connection rather than trying to describe what’s going on.
But the stakes of getting video collaboration right are perhaps even higher for customer-facing situations than for internal use cases. If a video call between two colleagues on separate coasts is a bit glitchy, or if the participants feel awkward at first about speaking to each other over a video connection, the company can iron out those wrinkles over time. If the same problems pop up on video calls with customers, they may not be so patient.
Here are five steps you should take before rolling out video in the customer engagement center.
1. Decide Whether Video Is a Good Fit
Not every customer interaction needs video. For instance, if a customer is simply calling to make an appointment, video won’t add a ton of value. It makes sense to target interactions where video is likely to have the largest impact, and then expand from there. When customers call a company because they can’t figure out how to install or assemble a product, for example, video chats may save time for both the company and the customer, and perhaps prevent a product return. That’s a clear win.
2. Build Out Supporting Infrastructure
Video collaboration tools often require new infrastructure investments, especially in the enterprise network. It’s important to carefully assess current network capabilities, to compare the existing situation to the desired end state and to design a comprehensive solution that will effectively bridge that gap. Often, companies rely on third-party partners such as CDW, which have been through this process enough times to anticipate challenges and help keep projects on schedule and under budget.
3. Deploy a Video Chat App
For internal use, employees can all communicate with each other using a video collaboration application such as Webex, Zoom or Microsoft Teams. But customers won’t necessarily have ready access to these tools, and companies can’t expect their customers to download and install software just to get in touch about a product issue or service complaint. Instead, companies should have their own customer-facing video chat apps, or perhaps a video chat feature within a general company app. Only a few years ago, this would likely have meant building a custom app from scratch (an expensive proposition). Today, companies can work with video collaboration vendors to incorporate video chat into their existing apps.
4. Train Employees
You don’t want to take someone who has been working in a call center for years, put him or her in front of a webcam and hope for the best. If you entrust employees to interact with customers via video collaboration, they essentially become the face of your company. It’s essential to train workers in the customer engagement center to communicate effectively via video.
5. Prepare Customers
Just as many employees will be inexperienced with supporting customers via video collaboration, some customers may have reservations about communicating via this new medium. Companies rolling out video chat for customers should let them know what the tool is and how it works. Also, it’s important to recognize that some customers may prefer not to use video collaboration and to give them alternatives. Sometimes (although not always), younger customers may be more receptive to video chat than older customers.
While video collaboration has made impressive inroads across industries over the past several years, it is still far from the norm in customer service. Companies that adopt video in the customer engagement center, therefore, are pioneers of sorts.
This means the move is still a bit of a risk. But if taken with care, that risk can yield great rewards.