The rise of video conferencing during lockdown will have a lasting impact, in the boardroom and for consumers – and organisations need to move with the times
With the majority of the United Kingdom’s population still working from home, it is perhaps unsurprising how video conferencing has become the new communication norm. From conducting work meetings to catching up with friends and family in the evenings and at weekends. Major players such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are some of the platforms facilitating face-to-face interaction, albeit through a camera. With so many of us accepting it is now the ‘go-to’ for communicating and socialising in the current landscape, will it continue to be in the future?
Figures released in March 2020 – before the lockdown measures came into effect – found that the global video conferencing market was expected to nearly double over the next seven years, growing from $6.1 billion in 2019 to $11.56 billion by 2027. What makes these figures particularly interesting is that this technology is not new. In fact, video conferencing has been a trend since the early days of Webex and GoToMeeting.
Video conferencing offers real-time, face-to-face interaction anytime, anywhere around the globe, showing why it’s continuing to grow in popularity for businesses and consumers alike. Its value was globally recognised in the workplace long before the pandemic hit and is an essential tool to improve productivity and reduce international travel for many businesses.
Customer service, however, is a little different. Most people describing their typical interaction with a brand would likely give examples of telephone calls, emails, or maybe even text-based chat. Video doesn’t even come into the equation. But as consumers grow increasingly comfortable with video conferencing in their work and personal lives, many companies will be considering whether they now utilise video to provide customer support.
Changing Consumer Demands
Here are some of the reasons why I believe a video conferencing revolution in customer service will occur, even beyond the COVID-19 lockdown. The business benefits are too compelling to ignore.
- The human element: Live video chat will be a powerful evolution of live text chat and phone support. By providing video support, customers are more likely to feel they are receiving a brand’s undivided attention – and that they are important and valued. This in turn will help drive customer loyalty, provide a more ‘human’ customer support experience, and ultimately enable the business to build deeper connections with its customers.
- Problems resolved with maximum efficiency: Today, video tutorials are already an integral part of customer self-service. It is much easier and quicker to watch a video explaining how to solve any product issue, than it is through reading text or images. Furthermore, these guides can help build engagement and offer a personal touch across the customer life cycle.
However, while they are a great asset for solving common problems, it is not an efficient use of a business’ time to make a video guide for every single issue that could arise with a product or service.
With a video conferencing call, an agent can combine live video chat with a screen sharing tool – simultaneously reviewing the problem in real-time and testing solutions on-the-go. Not only does this save both time and money, it also enables agents to build a closer relationship with the customer, and the customer to get back online much sooner, with less hassle.
- Expand customer base and scale-up: While many large businesses may not have the infrastructure to efficiently run live video customer service just yet, it is likely that it will become a key solution for those that provide a premium service and want to differentiate by offering a more personalised and real-time experience. It is a cost-effective way for companies, especially those who are looking to expand their customer base and scale-up, to provide an ‘above-and-beyond’ service.
- Setting up future technology: Of course, it’s not just video that is currently being explored in the domain of customer service. Applications of augmented reality (AR) and voice assistance (VA) are still on the horizon but could soon provide a wealth of opportunity to brands when it comes to sales and customer support. We’re already seeing the huge benefits this technology can bring to customers – IKEA has had enormous success with its IKEA Place augmented reality app which helps shoppers visualise how the furniture will look inside their homes.
Will Video Conferencing Truly Become The Norm?
Investing in a video platform now will help companies keep pace with changing customer demands and enable them to use the learnings and infrastructure to deliver a superior support experience, once technology such as AR becomes more accessible for customer service.
Even before the pandemic struck, the business benefits of using video conferencing for customer service were clear. However, for it to really catch on, it will have to increase in both effectiveness and efficiency when compared with traditional support channels. Customers will always be willing to sacrifice the human experience for the shortest route to an answer or solution. This doesn’t mean that humanising the customer support journey isn’t crucial, it is, and video conferencing has an important role to play in this. It will, however, need to be part of a wider omnichannel strategy, and used to augment, not replace, existing self-service support channels.