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Video killed the radio star, but it brings customers to life


02 November 2016

Dr Nicola Millard

Blogs by author: Dr Nicola Millard, Head of Customer Insight and Futures, BT


Research suggests an old technology could be the key to connecting with consumers in the future. Find out how video can provide a more personal customer experience.

It’s time to revisit video.

“Video killed the radio star” – so crooned The Buggles back in the late ‘70s. And video seems to have been on the brink of being the ‘next big thing’ for nearly 30 years.

As customer experiences are becoming more automated and remote, could video be a way of providing customers with a richer sense of presence than voice or chat? Could it offer a more personalised experience and the ability to share real-time content in a way that’s scalable?

A combination of smartphones, tablets and PCs with cameras, plus better/faster/cheaper connectivity means that video services like Skype, Facetime and YouTube have become part of the fabric of our everyday lives. But does that mean that we want to use video to talk to organisations, rather than simply use it to chat with our friends and family?

The research data looks persuasive.

Gartner has put video chat at the peak of this year’s CRM and customer experience hype cycle.
 And, in our global ‘Autonomous Customer’ survey, the appetite for consumers to use video chat for service has increased significantly — particularly in the UK (with 50 per cent in 2015 versus 36 per cent wanting video chat in 2013) and the US (50 per cent in 2015 versus 32 per cent in 2013). Appetite is already high in China (78 per cent thought video chat would be great to see a product demonstration), India (81 per cent), Indonesia (74 per cent) and the UAE (71 per cent).

In our recent financial services research, ‘Youbiquity Finance’, 54 per cent of customers thought that video would help them to better understand the advice being given to them. Four in ten thought video would be more secure than the traditional phone-based contact centre, and that advisors would be more engaged in the conversation.

So is video actually killing the radio star?

We decided to ask a number of organisations who have introduced video as a customer service tool, and also some customers who had used it, what they thought. It became apparent that there were some very successful deployments, but also some that hadn’t worked so well.

Here’s what we learned.

1. Strategy is key — the success of video is a function of what you want to do with it. Successful deployments have used video as a sales and service tool for a customer segment who are looking for convenient, personal and expert advice in a digital channel. Significant failures have largely been around deployment with a customer segment that didn’t want it, where the interaction didn’t greatly benefit from a visual component, or the channel didn’t fit the task in hand.

2. Trust matters — with both mortgage and medical advice being key successes in video chat, it’s clear that video can provide the visual connection between expert advisor and customer that can improve trust, rapport and reassurance in complex situations.

3. A picture paints a thousand words — customers or advisors are able to demonstrate products or show each other things, like water damage with insurance companies or lights and wires with telecoms or utilities. Retailers, in particular, report that providing a visual channel where products can be demonstrated can result in far better engagement with customers and better prospects for sales. Similar results are also reported with the use of static video and personalised (i.e. not face-to-face) video situations, so it may also be appropriate to use video in other ways to help customers. Here are some examples of how personalised video could enhance the customer experience.

4. It gives customers quick and convenient access to expertise — since mortgage advisors, tech experts and medics don’t grow on trees, video can provide customers with access to expert advice outside traditional working hours, or in branches/shops/surgeries where the expert isn’t physically present. This saves both the customer and the organisation time and travel costs, and can improve access to expert advice when it is wanted, rather than having to make an appointment.

5. Image can be a barrier — both customers and advisors expressed reservations about the intrusiveness of video. People get self-conscious about their image and personal appearance, especially if they’re letting strangers into their home (albeit virtually). Neither customers, nor advisors, necessarily like having a camera pointed at them. Seventy-one per cent of our autonomous customers said that they checked their appearance before making a video call and 52 per cent said that they brushed their hair. This discomfort is one of the biggest barriers to adoption.

If it’s deployed appropriately, video chat does seem to have the capability to create better customer experiences, greater engagement from both the customer and the advisor, and improved customer satisfaction (with many successful deployments reporting increases in both Customer Satisfaction and Net Promotor Scores).

Video may not be killing the radio star yet — but it does offer many customer experience advantages that voice or written digital communication can’t.

Have a look through our thought leadership piece on service in the age of video to find out more.

Enable deeper and richer interactions with your customers.  Visit us at Gartner ITXpo Barcelona to find out how.