How many times have you heard feedback from customers saying that they wish they could put a face to the name or voice of the representative with whom they were interacting? How many reports have you read stating that customers think service is impersonal? What if you could change all of that?
Engaging customers through video is nothing new, and seems obvious; however, one channel for its use is still in the background. More than 50% of Inc. 500 companies use YouTube, and over 345 Fortune 500 companies have a corporate YouTube accounts, according to research by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Most companies utilizing video resources have one to many self-help videos. Although these videos do put a “face” to a company, they are process-driven and impersonal.
Do customers generally take action after receiving a video email?
Live video engagement is also emerging as a communication channel. There are companies out there such as Amazon using live video engagement via the Mayday button on their Kindle Fire tablets. This is a great feature and does make video service personal, but it is device-driven, can create resource challenges, and requires a modified approach to service.
So what about a type of video engagement that exists in between live engagement and a one-to-many approach?
Sending personal video emails can literally change the face of your organization. Engaging a customer through video adds a personal touch and allows your organization’s customerfacing employees to truly have an impact on the customer experience. If you can put a face to a name, it not only creates a connection, but demonstrates a personal stake, accountability and even shows that you care.
There are certainly some decisions and challenges to consideration before adding personalized video as a channel. I’ll explore those issues and discuss possible uses for customer care.
End-user and Customer Technology
One of the first things to consider with video engagement is the technology needed to make utilizing this channel as seamless as possible. It can be as simple as a laptop with a built in camera or even an attached webcam. I’ve seen different approaches used by organizations. Some have shared video stations and others have the technology at each individual station. Mobile devices are also alternatives. iPads and tablets allow you to quickly create “on the go” videos. These devices can be managed and shared by multiple employees.
Mobile devices also play a large role for your customers and their ability to access these videos. A Digital Buzz Blog Infographic shows that more than 29% of all emails are opened on mobile phones and over 10% are opened on a tablet. Also, over 50% of all mobile users use their device as their primary Internet source. Incorporating video and mobile, statistics show that YouTube alone averages 1 billion mobile views per day. Unlike the baseball field in the movie “Field of Dreams,” it has already been built and people are already there. This tells us that our customers are already there from a technology standpoint and have adopted video as part of their daily lives.
Technology aside, organizations need to determine which video-sharing company to partner with for creating and sending personal video messages. Sure, there is Vine, Instagram Direct and even YouTube—each of which could potentially handle a business’s needs for personal video messages; however, these sites are more tailored for group sharing and mass open video sharing.
There are companies on the rise that offer solutions tailored specifically to personal video emails for businesses. One such company is Vsnap, a Boston-based company that allows users to record, share and track personal video messages up to 60 seconds in length via the web or iOS. You can also embed in these emails calls to action based off the video, such as links to websites or documents.
PERSONAL VIDEO EMAIL ENGAGEMENT IS NOT NECESSARILY A NEW CHANNEL PROPOSAL, BUT RATHER A MELDING OF CHANNELS AND RESOURCES YOU ARE ALREADY USING.
Video: It’s Not Just for Celebrities Anymore
Having the right technology and means to send video emails will only be successful if you also have the right people using this channel to communicate with your customers. Chances are, you already have customer-facing people with video skills in your organization. I say this because these video emails are meant to be free-flowing, non-scripted communication with your customers. It’s about exposure, vulnerability and real connection.
When you think about your best service or support agents, can you picture them creating and sending video emails to your customers? I know I can in my own organization. With a little training on using the technology for this channel and a little practice on staying within a designated timeframe for the message, anyone can do this. Not everyone will want to, as some folks consider themselves to be camera shy, but you’ll have plenty who will step up to the plate eager to try out this new tool to engage your customers.
Will your agents be concerned about security issues? Perhaps, but there are just as many with all other communication channels. As we’ve seen with Comcast, which was in the news recently after a customer published a recording of a series of phone calls with a Comcast CSR, any communication between your company and a customer should automatically assumed to be public for all to see and, in some instances, hear. The larger concern here is potentially facial recognition between the video from the employee and mapping that to a social site name and picture. However, we are still a little ways away from facial recognition software becoming readily available to the masses for individual use, and depending on how governments regulate this software, it may never become an issue.
A New Communication Experience
There may be reasons for sending a personal video message to a customer that are relevant just for your organization or industry, but the following are a few suggestions that can resonate with almost any company.
This can be anything that occurs in your organization that would warrant it, be it personal or business-related. Imagine one of your agents sending a “congratulations on your marriage” video message to a customer who mentioned that they just got married. Then imagine including links to time management and financial planning tools, which go hand in hand with a life-changing event. You could also send a message of congratulations to your customers who accomplished a goal, such as paying off their account, or who completed some task and include next step links and documents. Is this a necessary type of communication? No, but it will certainly set your service apart from others.
2. STARTING AND FINISHING
We’ve all done it; signed up for something and never used it or “started” it. The classic example is the New Year’s resolution gym membership. What if your agent sent a video message welcoming someone to your business as a customer, letting them know assistance is available and then embedding content and links to help that person get started? Sure, you run the risk of losing that customer from buyer’s remorse, but that risk would be there anyway. The opposite end of the start is the finish. Sending a video message encouraging someone to cross that finish line, whatever it may be for your product or service, could be the push the customer needs. Here again, you can include information, content and links with everything they need to know or do to achieve their goal.
3. PROGRESSION AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Depending on your industry, there may be a need to encourage your customers to do something—a call to action, so to speak. This type of communication can occur either proactively or reactively based on a phone or email conversation or a predetermined progression point check-in. This video shows a personal stake in a customer’s time with your business, and that you really do want them to be successful. Sometimes people do not have a support system to provide that positive feedback and drive, so this could be a lifeline for them.
Having customers with financial struggles can be a fairly common occurrence for any business. This is probably the most pertinent use of a personal video message as it can take away the potential shame for a customer who is not meeting a financial obligation. Seeing a video from one of your representatives letting the customer know that they are there to help and including links to financial planning tools, or steps someone can take to alleviate their current situation can have a profound impact. Your business will no longer be perceived as a “collector” that only wants the money, but as a business that cares about the customer’s situation.
5. COMPANY ERROR
It’s the big one; admitting your organization has made an error. Having a person in your organization personally communicate via video that an error was made and apologize for it can produce a very different reaction than you might get utilizing another channel. For instance, if one of your agents said that they were going to do something for a customer, but they did not, taking ownership of the error and following up on it “in person” shows a very human aspect. Just as with any of the other categories previously mentioned, you can also include links or documents to any steps you are taking to rectify the situation or anything you may need the customer to do.
SYNDACAST ENGAGEMENT DATA
Using the word “video” in an email message subject line boosts the open rate by 19% and the clickthrough rate by 65%.
People retain 95% of the message in a video vs. 10% of what they read in a textbased email.
A Tool to Enhance Other Communication Channels
Why on earth would you want to add yet another communication channel? Personal video email engagement suggests in the phrase itself that this is not necessarily a new channel proposal but rather a melding of channels and resources you are already using in your organization. As mentioned earlier, many organizations are already using video and still are or have used email to communicate.
This channel can be a tool to enhance the others you are already using. All of the message category suggestions in this article can be implemented post contact, proactively and/or reactively with the initial communication coming in via another channel (phone, email, chat, social). It may add processing or resolution time to a communication string, however, that time and cost can most likely be offset based on the outcome of the video email. Adding two to three minutes to an interaction would be worthwhile if your customer took the desired action after watching the video message.
Do customers generally take action after receiving a video email? Online marketing agency Syndacast recently combined video engagement trends data from several top survey organizations. They found that using the word “video” in an email message subject line boosts the open rate by 19% and the click-through rate by 65%.The report also found that most people retain 95% of the message in a video versus 10% of what they read in a text-based email.
Will video interaction kill the traditional email, phone or any other channel? Probably not, but it could certainly reduce those interactions and turn what would have been a very dry non-interactive communication into one that engages a customer. The vulnerability of putting yourself or your agents out there for customers to see brings with it a level of respect and gratitude from your customers. Simply stated, utilizing video in a different way at a personal level quite literally has the potential to change the face of your organization.
Jennifer Thomas is Senior Manager of Student CARE at Penn Foster. She has over 14 years’ experience in Customer Relationship Management, employee development, quality assurance and customer retention.
– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline, http://www.contactcenterpipeline.com