Video in the Contact Center: A Solution Looking for a Market and Finding Modest Niches

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Video applications are flooding the marketplace, making large gains in mindshare if not market share.  The technology has become better, simpler to implement and manage, and less costly to maintain.
  • Despite the popularity and growth of video in general, video conferencing penetration of the contact center has been minimal at best.  Implementation of the technology remains limited to niche segments of the customer care/helpdesk marketplace.

It seems video conferencing technology is infiltrating just about everything we do today.  Immersive telepresence, desktop video, room-based video, and mobile video on smartphones and tablets are becoming commonplace as the technology gets better and the cost and complexities of video solutions diminish.  Given this increasing acceptance of video in our lives, I wonder if and when video-enabled contact centers will become a reality.  As I discuss the topic with customer care executives and vendors of contact center applications, most tend to agree that there is a value proposition for video in the customer care environment.  The future benefits they see include video’s potential to enhance personalization, promote customer loyalty, and improve sales effectiveness as agents and customers see each other eye to eye.  Others mention video’s potential to enhance self-service functionality with pushed video clips as well as improvements in the wait in queue with the use of targeted advertising clips (i.e., video brochures).  In addition, customer care executives generally agree that the proper use of video in the contact center could be a significant competitive differentiator for those that get there first and develop the optimal blueprint for success.

Today, the use of video in the contact center environment falls into a handful of niche markets.  There are remote kiosks in branches or shopping malls, in which customers can interact with centralized and remote subject matter experts to discuss topics such as retirement savings, personal loans, or insurance.  These give the customer the feeling of personal service in their sales and service transactions, while cutting costs to enterprises by sharing human resources across multiple remote locations.  Other market niche instances of video in contact centers include using video to enable the hearing-impaired to utilize sign language to communicate with a specially trained service agent and allowing cable company agents to push videos to customers’ PCs to instruct them on how to install a recently received cable box or wireless modem.

I believe these niche markets will persist and grow gradually, driven by requirements to service select groups such as the hearing impaired and specific verticals.  Video will also become more common for training and service support.  However, I also think that general acceptance of video in the customer service environment will be slow.  The most common reactions I hear from consumers when asked about adding a video link to their customer service interaction tend to be: “I do not have a real need to see the agent with whom I am speaking” and “a voice interaction is just fine for most service calls.”  Many add that they like to get customer service from their phone or PC, and do not want to have to dress up or be well-groomed to see their customer service representative face-to-face.

Do you agree?  Or, do you think video will catch on rapidly across the general customer service/contact center marketplace?  Let me know of video applications you have seen working successfully in the marketplace, or why you do (or do not) believe video has a big future in contact centers.

About Ken Landoline
As Principal Analyst within the Current Analysis Business Technology and Software group Ken Landoline tracks the enterprise unified communications and contact center (UCCC) markets.

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