It’s time to wrap up our series on strengthening the foundations of your customer support channels. Once you’ve mastered these basics, then and only then should you jump into the tempting waters of shiny and new technologies like artificial intelligence-driven chatbots and virtual reality.
We've already looked at how to make the most of both social media and an effective knowledge-base, self-help platform as tools with which to support your customers. For my final post on the subject, I’m going to cover the challenges you’ll find using video as a support channel in which to have a live conversation with customers that require support. I'll also offer offer some tips to overcome these challenges.
Video Customer Support
Don’t assume, because you’ve already mastered social or knowledge-base customer service, that you’ll be automatically good at having live video conversations with your customers. While it may appear to be little more than a FaceTime chat, it’s a deceptively demanding channel that may just throw you some curve balls. Using video as a customer support channel is a unique beast. It’s relatively early on in the gestation of this new channel (to both providers and customers). Many businesses haven’t figured out how to use video to its full potential, so it’s not widely used.
Challenges of a Video Customer Support Channel
Besides the learning curve on this new endeavor, there are some of the other challenges involved in setting up a video customer support channel:
Cost is the biggest driver.
The video solution—done professionally—requires more money for the technology and infrastructure. This is much different than the plug-and-play, traditional voice channel which has been used for decades, for example, with the same software and reporting built in. With video, you have fewer “off the shelf” options and some features are lacking.
You must find a unique set of contact center agent qualities.
The video environment presents a different challenge, and a different hiring profile, for finding the right candidates for your agents. They must be confident in handling customer interactions and prepared to handle situations that are unique to video (i.e. inappropriate customer behavior). They must be “camera ready” and presentable from a customer service standpoint.
In addition to being an active listener, problem solver and empathetic to customer needs, your support personnel now need to think about non-verbal communications and camera presence.
You also need to take into consideration the physical layout of agent workspace to be quiet, professional and branded appropriately (no pictures of family, post-it-notes or action figures viewable to the customer). There's also the matter of an acceptable dress code-consistent dress (think branded shirts) is a consideration not normally thought of in a more traditional contact center. This also adds extra cost considerations.
How to Make the Most of Your Video Support Channel
Target the right agent profile for video-ready personnel. As stated above, look for contact center candidates with soft skills, who are camera ready, and have the confidence and a communication style to deal with situations unique to the video channel.
Customize and design technology and network solutions to address all elements of customer care. There are no off-the-shelf solutions—only piece-part solutions that need to be integrated.
Empower agents as an elite team who drive a greater customer experience to enhance the channel as a premium offer. Make video something special or different, give them different products to support. Remember, you’re creating a niche field for both the customer and the agent.
Pioneers of Video Support
Right now, video remains a fairly untested frontier in the realm of customer support. Very few businesses are using it, or using it well. However, according to a recent article in the L.A. Times, companies like American Express, Target, Hertz, E-Trade and Bank of America are paving the way. Banks in particular, are looking to benefit from the interactivity of “virtual” face-to-face transactions between tellers and customers to build and sustain relationships.
Personalization and connection matter—and with video, there's plenty of opportunity to explore this channel further. Will you be the next? Consider exploring video support with a contact center partner if you're ready to dive in.
About the Author
In his twenty-five plus years in the customer services industries, Rusty has been involved in all aspects of direct marketing and customer management. He is currently responsible for client management for all contact center programs at Harte Hanks. He has a broad array of customer experiences, including traditional customer support, multichannel support (including social support programs), lead management and web-based initiatives for clients like Samsung, Microsoft, Major League Baseball, HBO and Barnes & Nobel.More Content by Rusty Langford