Originally published in CRM Xchange
By Tom Martin, CEO, Glance
April 27, 2021
Digital customer engagement has become the new norm. What began last year as a quick reaction to social distancing mandates has now manifested in consumer behavior changes that will be with us for the long run. Research firm Digital Commerce 360 reports U.S. consumers purchased 44 percent more via online retail in 2020 than in 2019. In the first month of the shutdown, American Banker magazine reported that digital banking adoption was growing so quickly it was difficult to track the precise growth rate. Accenture noted that in the first three months of the pandemic shutdown we saw three years’ worth of digital transformation.
Even the most complex purchases are going digital
Now businesses are offering more complex products and services through digital channels and have had to recreate in-person customer interactions and provide white glove service in their online properties. Embedding video into the digital property is a compelling strategy to meet all these needs. It is a key differentiator that strengthens brands by facilitating human-to-human support, guidance, and service within a company’s secure digital footprint.
There’s little debate that the pandemic was the impetus for many enterprises to shift toward digital-first experiences. More sales help and support processes have already gone down the digital path, and today selling anything from mobile phones and mortgages to insurance policies online is a normalized process. Bookkeeping and payroll services are now emerging in web-first formats.
Sales and support in this environment can be complex and require special skills and knowledge from agents who must be well-versed in how to handle the complexities of providing information, expediting onboarding, and managing multiple other tasks in a digital world. A brand’s ability to serve customers through digital channels has become a critical difference maker. These interactions are becoming even more important to winning, keeping, and expanding customer relationships. Companies need digital tools now to support the broadest set of customers through their branded channels with the immediacy and empathy that are regularly associated with face-to-face interactions.
Many enterprises are trying to strike the right balance of human service and bot-based service and customer self-service in the digital engagement. AI-driven chatbots can certainly handle more perfunctory needs—such as resetting passwords and finding online resources—but they are not a replacement for human support staff. Customers want support, but also to feel valued, and empathy can only be delivered in a human-to-human interaction.
Video conferencing platforms won’t quite cut it
When customers have urgent and unforeseen requirements, such as questions with a complex purchase, they want immediate answers. Popular video meeting software has sometimes been utilized to replace in-person interactions lost to the pandemic, but they have proven a poor fit for ad hoc service and support. These tools require all parties—business and consumer—to abandon their existing conversation and try to re-create the entire experience in a third-party conferencing environment, which is completely disruptive to the process. Instead of enhancing service and building brand loyalty, the improper use of video collaboration as an ad hoc customer resolution platform can be completely counter-productive, and possibly push customers away from the brand.
Embedded video delivers for customers
The best option for seamless, human-to-human customer engagement is video that is embedded directly in the website or app. Embedded video sessions can be launched either as a primary channel to meet customer needs, or in combination with other digital tools, like co-browsing, screenshare, chatbots, and AI-driven systems. Embedded video’s face-to-face sessions enable knowledge workers and agents to provide that personal and contextual customer experience that translates into greater brand value, higher levels of service, increased revenue, and reduced churn.
Embedded video is safer and easier
Embedded video also offers security advantages. Because embedded video interactions stay within the brand’s web property or app, the service can be managed within the same corporate security protocols and data privacy mandates already being managed for the app or website. This is particularly important in regulated markets like financial services or healthcare that have more stringent privacy requirements for customer interactions and information. Embedded video ensures that the support delivered is immediate, appropriate, face-to-face, and conducted in a secure and compliant domain.
Embedded video strengthens the brand
Most important, by embedding the video collaboration experience within the website or app, the brand experience is not disrupted. When customers and agents see each other within the brand’s digital environment, it can elevate the quality of care provided to an in-person or concierge-style level of service. This level of high-quality service is expected by a growing proportion of customers as they become more accustomed to world-class digital experiences.
Businesses that want to adopt more ways to engage and attract customers can use embedded video to reimagine in-person customer experiences where expert consultation is delivered, problems are solved, customers feel appreciated, brands are strengthened, and loyalty is nurtured. Embedded video offers an efficient way to deliver differentiated experiences that enhance customer service in a market where sales and service for complex products is rapidly going digital.