Real Time Engagement via Video: Why, How, and When to Use It

customer engaging in real time on laptop


[Estimated read time: 4 minutes]


This quote from innovation legend Henry Ford reminds us that customers don’t always know what they really want until they experience it. Time and time again, the market has maintained a lukewarm attitude about technological changes until first-hand experiences changed the perception.

In his book Customer Experience 3.0, John A. Goodman shares the example of the ATM: Before these machines were introduced at banking locations around the US, the majority of consumers surveyed claimed they would never use them, instead preferring to work with a human bank teller. But once consumers experienced the convenience of having 24/7 access their cash, they never looked back.

A similar phenomenon is taking place with real-time engagement through video chat.

Trailblazer: Kindle Mayday

A few years ago, Amazon introduced a new method of communication for users of its Kindle devices: “Mayday,” a video chat with an Amazon rep who can see your screen, initiated with the touch of a button. There were initial concerns about customer adoption and about whether their service teams would be able to maintain speed and consistency. However, the metrics speak for themselves:

It took a service like Mayday to acclimate the market to the idea of interacting with companies through video, and Mayday has set the bar high for this emerging channel. The pressure is on for companies to engage with customers in real time through video-based chat.

How to serve customers effectively using live video chat

We have talked previously about the impact of WebRTC, or web real-time communication, on contact centers as a whole. But the transition from phone calls to real-time video engagement impacts your individual agents, as well.

Providing customer service via live video requires training on how to handle all kinds of customer situations, as well as on-demand access to answers through a knowledgebase. Luckily, many of the same skills your agents use when they are on a voice call with customers can be applied to video chat. Being polite, friendly, and able to keep their cool when customer emotions run high are all necessary skills that seasoned agents already possess. When transitioning from voice calls to video calls, the major difference is that customers can now see the agents’ facial expressions — so it’s best to keep any eye-rolling to a minimum.

Stories from the front lines of Amazon Mayday highlight the benefit of agents who are genuine and who have a sense of humor. For example, take the two Kindle users who pressed the Mayday button because they couldn’t agree on the best way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and asked the Mayday rep to mediate the dispute — which the rep did, without batting an eye. With live video, as with other live interactions with customers, there will always be wild cards. The same set of skills that enable your best agents to deal with wacky, angry, or just plain crazy customers will serve them well when providing service in a live video situation.

When to use real-time video engagement

Real-time video chat with customers isn’t the right fit for every service interaction, but for the scenarios below, it’s a game-changer.

1. Complex set-up: When customers are setting up a complicated product, such as assembling a cabinet or configuring their new smart TV, a two-way video chat can be invaluable. Instead of the customer having to describe everything they’re seeing, they can show the agent a live video of what’s happening. This saves the agent from having to play 20 Questions to understand the problem and allows them to skip straight to the resolution.

2. Visual troubleshooting: “But it was working fine a minute ago…” Sometimes products stop working and we can’t figure out why. This is another scenario where video chat can save the day. For example, say your desk fan stops functioning and you contact the company for help. Using live video, you can see the agent’s face, and they can see your fan. Grabbing the same model of fan from off the shelf and opening a third video feed, the agent can demonstrate exactly what you need to do to fix the problem.

3. Documenting defects: Product defects happen, and some of these cases require quick escalation to Consumer Affairs or Legal. Using two-way video chat allows agents to visually verify the legitimacy of a customer’s claim before escalating to a different team. Agents can also use video to document the current state of the product, as well as the customer’s comments — which could come in handy if a lawsuit is filed down the road.

Real-time video engagement has seen enthusiastic adoption from customers who have experienced it first-hand, and brands who support it will be better equipped to provide a higher level of service. Learn more about how video chat using Astute SOS can enhance your service offering and lead to stronger customer loyalty.