Originally published in Customer Magazine
By Tom Martin, CEO, Glance
February 23, 2021
In the earliest days of the pandemic, businesses faced extraordinary challenges to stay afloat. At the top of the list, certainly, was keeping the staff safe, which required an immediate transition to work-from-home environments. Then there was the issue of serving the customer base. Brick-and-mortar establishments almost instantly transformed themselves into virtual organizations, enhancing websites and mobile apps, and adding self-service tools and online meeting capabilities where appropriate to evolve from in-person to digital customer engagement.
Re-imagining Brand Experiences Though Embedded Video
These digital adaptations have defined the new normal for enterprises today. It has worked well for simple transactions and for customers who are already comfortable with the art of navigating a website, choosing their favorite products and services, and then completing their purchases online, maybe even with the help of digital self-service functionality. The immediate transition to work-from-home environments required each of us to quickly become familiar with online video meeting solutions, even though user interfaces among providers vary wildly. These video solutions are more than sufficient for planned activities, such as scheduled conferences between employees or with customers.
But, are the popular video collaboration services ideal when customers have urgent needs with complex transactions and require immediate answers? When a customer is on a bank’s website and looking to identify the right mortgage, or an individual is perusing her investment portfolio online and has an urgent question, how does the business deliver that real-time guidance to provide answers, resolve issues, satisfy the customer, and most importantly, maintain brand loyalty?
The most efficient and compelling means is to engage the customer through video services directly embedded into the website or app. This delivers the real-time human-to-human guidance customers need, without forcing the engagement into a third-party solution that is often cumbersome, inconvenient and frustrating for all parties involved.
Businesses recognize there will always be a need to integrate live agent assistance into a digital customer engagement. The key is to provide these interactions in a manner that is non-disruptive, secure, seamless, and most importantly, extends the brand experience.
Video Collaboration: Pros and Cons
For pre-scheduled meetings with known participants, services like Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams are accessible, easy-to-use, and efficient for bringing together individuals and teams to collaborate and solve problems. But, for ad hoc, on-the-fly sessions, these services have proven to be less than ideal.
Because these collaboration tools are third-party apps, they introduce a whole new level of friction into the workflow and user experience. Consider that for common video tools to be effective, participants must first be notified that the session is taking place. This is step one. If the conversation is not scheduled, the host must send an invite, which means collecting an email address or mobile numbers from the external participant, such as a customer. That sometimes raises alarms with consumers regarding data privacy. After clearing this hurdle, that participant must make sure he or she has the requisite software installed on their device. If they do not, customers must take the time and effort—and security risks—associated with downloading these tools. The entire engagement becomes much more complex and burdensome than it needs to be for both the business and consumer.
Even after all these disruptions have been overcome, the stark reality is that moving these conversations to an online meeting environment takes the customer completely out of the branded online experience. Not only are the look and feel of the branding assets lost, but the third-party environment often does not comport with the company’s security and data privacy rules. This can have risk implications whenever sensitive information is shared, such as during sessions with investment advisors, insurance representatives, and healthcare providers. For this reason alone, businesses need to find a reliable alternative to deliver on-the-fly human-to-human service, sales, and collaboration within the secure, branded environment of the enterprise’s website or app.
Embedded Video Extends the Brand
Assets like web portals already provide companies with a ready mechanism to serve customers through branded self-help tools. These same solutions can accommodate embedded video services that can be easily launched by a representative to provide that live human interaction that consumers crave.
Innovative technology incorporates embedded, secure, two-way video that enables the agent and customer to see each other, which elevates the empathy that is conveyed from the brand to the consumer. Collaborative tools like cobrowse and screen share can also be incorporated, giving agents even more tools to guide customers.
Embedded video also removes the disruption associated with videoconferencing technology. Since the solution is built into the browser, representatives can launch sessions without requiring the customer to download any software. Sessions can be launched instantaneously, accessible from laptops, desktops, tablets and mobile phones, and across any broadband or mobile network. Staff members can use embedded video to re-create that in-person customer experience where expert consultation is delivered, problems are solved, customers feel appreciated, and brand loyalty is projected. Most importantly, since embedded video engagements take place within the brand’s web property or app, all communication adheres to corporate security and data privacy protocols and mandates. It is a proven, secure, and reliable tool to deliver enhanced customer service while maintaining brand value.
Businesses have invested heavily in their brands and are rightfully protective of how their organizations present themselves to customers. As these companies continue to emphasize their digital environments to provide customer support and advisory services, careful consideration should be given to the integration of live agent assistance when appropriate. Embedded video that can be seamlessly incorporated into assets, like websites, offer the best opportunity for providing live interactions within the confines of the digital environment.
These tools are secure, easy to implement and use, and can accelerate problem resolution and improve customer satisfaction. Most importantly, embedded video keeps all communication within the branded property, eliminating the disruption of forcing customers into another medium, and ensuring that consumers receive an end-to-end brand experience across all channels and throughout their unique customer journey.