Why Contact Centers Aren’t Using Video

When I travel, I will make video calls to my family so I can see my daughter’s face when I ask about her homework, and show my husband that I’m in a nice hotel room that’s safe. This visual interaction allows expressions to be seen and non-verbal cues to be relayed. It has real value. But video still hasn’t gained popularity in the professional space yet- including the contact center.

Not that many years ago, people were talking about how the popularity of smartphones would surely lead quickly to video calls being the preferred mode of conversation. There’s no doubt that the traditional call center has expanded to handle more than just calls, taking on emails, chats, and SMS. But, I haven’t seen a lot of contact centers using video to interact with their customers. I see it in people’s personal lives but I don’t see it in the interactions we have with companies and I wondered why that is. I’ve got a few ideas:

The reasons we’re calling are different.

  • Personal:
    • They may be far away so this is literally the only way to see them.
    • We want to “catch up” with them.
  • Professional:
    • We are trying to address an issue.
    • We are requesting service or a product.
    • We are trying to convince someone of something – they need to buy something or they need to hire us.

Besides the technical requirements, like a web cam, meeting basic system requirements, having enough bandwidth, etc. there are a lot of other considerations that have to be kept in mind to use video in the contact center.

  • Appearance and Lighting – One of the perks of being an agent in a contact center is that you can dress very casually even if the customer is a suit-and-tie person. If the customers see you, now we have to have dress codes and have adequate lighting.
  • Environment – Pictures and decorations would have to be closely monitored to make sure only acceptable items were visible to the customers. This could be a chance to display promotional materials or use images to set a tone.
  • Visual Feedback – Sometimes agents may not want their expressions to “give away” what they are really thinking. In most circumstances, though, it could allow the interaction to have a more human touch and improve the customer experience.
  • Training – Often times training an agent to service a customer via video interaction would be a skill they’d need to learn. This includes not only how to use the software required to manage video calls, but also video etiquette involved in hosting them.

Is it a lack of interest from customers or is it a matter of too many things to manage that keeps companies from going the video call route? What’s stopping you?

As always, thanks for reading!

Shanti Lall

Shanti Lall

I came to Interactive Intelligence in 2010 as an operational trainer for the Education department. For about a decade before that, I worked in a contact center, where I started out as a line-level agent taking customer service calls. I worked my way up to team lead, supervisor, and finally, project manager. I was doing quality management with a circa 1982 tape deck in a spare office with a speaker phone and workforce management in an Excel spreadsheet with about 5 billion lines of formula. Eventually we upgraded and brought in Interactive Intelligence. When I’m not training people who can relate to my former life, I’m traveling with my family.