Guest post by Carol Durkin, a call center manager and freelance writer
Tech pundits Robert Scoble, Michael Krigsman, and Val Afshar, recently talked about how video chat, mobile and analytic technology are changing the way we navigate through our day-to-day interactions and questioned whether these innovations are helping or hindering customer relations. So far, industries like car dealerships have implemented live chat tools to grab prospective clients who go to their sites. While live text chat is a fairly old technology, it is being used more frequently to close deals and help companies to better serve their clients. Will video chat help companies to achieve the same goal?
Agent Credibility Check
Afshar told Smartplanet.com's Joe McKendrick that a live chat program that includes options for video chat will allow a customer to watch their agent troubleshoot a problem. If the agent doesn't know what he's doing, the customer will know immediately. Customers will know how well agents are trained and that they won't be able to follow a script to help the customer, he said. On the other hand, this may force companies to invest in hiring agents who are more experienced in areas of communication and technology. Companies will also have to take more time to train their agents to understand the technology that they are offering to clients.
Raising the Bar
One company that is looking into video chat to make connections with customers stronger is CarHistory.com. The site provides vehicle history reports and tracks whether a car has been in any accidents or has failed emissions. According to Virtual-Strategy.com, the company currently uses live chat to connect its customers with reps for its online service.
Since video chat is not being widely used in customer service yet, CarHistory.com wants to take its time, weighing the pros and cons of this feature. While it is researching the effectiveness of video chat and testing out beta versions for a final product, the company says it will still offer customers 24/7 live chat with customer service and 24/7 call center assistance.
It's clear that video chat is set to become the new portal for communication between customers and agents. Starbucks is already using this technology in its drive-thru service, allowing customers to communicate their orders to a barista who is smiling and attentively taking their order from a video screen. Joe Satran of the Huffington Post says that Starbucks is trying out the system at a few of their select locations and, depending on its success, will expand the technology to other drive-thru Starbucks restaurants.