The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for video chat. Whereas previously acknowledged as a useful way to engage customers, video has suddenly become imperative to the very survival of businesses.
Companies that relied on face-to-face interactions with customers are using video (along with other digitization efforts) to make up for closed shops and decreased in-store visits from customers. And other companies, too, need to ensure their recently fully remote workforce can still collaborate and be productive from a distance.
The value of video chat extends beyond just conferencing – it’s helping businesses generate much needed revenue during this time. Let’s take a look at video trends and cover some of the most creative uses of video chat for business today.
Video chat has always been popular
Despite our need for in-person interactions, video is a powerful medium. Fifty-eight percent of businesses already use video conferencing for their everyday operations, even if their business isn’t built around it. By certain projections, the video conferencing market will reach $13.82 billion in 2023, and go beyond $20 billion in 2024.
So, we can see a definite trend for businesses relying on video chat. Many companies already understand the positives of using video, especially for customer service. Some of these include adding a human touch to online business interactions and sales and customer satisfaction.
And now video has exploded
Fun fact: Google searches related to the term “video chat” spiked worldwide in mid-March 2020. The most obvious explanation is our recent troubles with COVID-19. People were looking for a way to stay connected while trapped indoors, and have some fun, too – probably why the query “games to play over video chat” saw a +700% increase, according to Google Trends.
How does this trend relate to business video chat? It seems video conferencing became even more popular, and fast, because of the suddenly remote workforce and the need to move sales predominantly online. Zoom, Slack, and other robust communication platforms are working to meet the increased demand and offer discounts or resources to help.
And this digital acceleration is expected to stay even after the pandemic. For example, according to Gartner, nearly three out of four CFOs intend to move at least five percent of on-site employees to remote working on a permanent basis post-COVID. Also, digital transformation was already underway for retailers, dealerships and other businesses, and video is a fundamental part of that.
So how can you use video during the pandemic and beyond? Can video chat really replace the experience of working together on-site or walking around a showroom?
Not entirely, but it can come pretty close.
How video chat supports your business during COVID-19
Build a remote team
The most common use case is the ability for remote teams to collaborate better. Granted, they can communicate through messaging apps and emails, but face-to-face connection is invaluable: according to a survey, 63 percent of video users miss seeing their colleagues’ faces when they can’t join calls and 87% of employees say video makes them feel more engaged with their colleagues.
So how can you use video to maintain morale and productivity in your newly remote team?
- Schedule video check-ins individually with each of your team members. Ask your team members to turn on video – some may feel uncomfortable at first, but in the end, seeing each other will help maintain your connection. Discuss and alleviate their concerns and make sure your body language projects positivity. Do these video calls regularly, preferably once a week, and tell your team members you’ll be available to jump on a video call with them when they need to.
- Ensure you have a video tool that’s effective and streamlined. Considering that the biggest problem with video conferencing meetings is actually starting the video call (more than 50% of video conferencing users are wasting nearly 10 minutes per meeting on setup), finding the right tools is critical for productivity of remote teams.
So, when choosing video conferencing tools, pay extra attention to how quickly and easily you can begin and schedule a video call.
- Conduct fun activities with your team over video. Schedule a video call with your team where you can play a game – seeing each other laugh and have fun will be good for maintaining morale. Don’t overdo it, you don’t want to take up too much of your team members’ time or appear to try too hard, but you can ask your team how often they’d like to participate in some digital team bonding time.
Conduct live walkthroughs
Have you ever wished you could buy home appliances from the comfort of your home without having to go and see them up close? Or call, say, a car dealership to ask about a vehicle and then not have to find time to book an appointment for a test drive?
Live walkthroughs address these needs – especially at times when people actually can’t go to the physical location. Similar methods of selling have been around a while: according to a 2018 Think with Google report, 64 percent of automotive shoppers say that methods like 360-degree video would convince them to buy without a test drive. Live walkthrough takes this one step further, so employees can showcase products over their smartphone or tablet whilst on a video call with customers.
An important aspect of product walkthroughs is being able to answer questions in real-time about what the customer sees via the video (just like it’d work on site).
If you want to use video chat this way, you can:
- Take a quick look at the customer journey. “Quick” because you’ll probably need a fast solution during the crisis. But, you still need to approach this in a structured way: for example, which stages in your customers’ buying process could be replaced or enhanced with video? What are the motivations of your customers at each stage that could be supported by video?
- Choose the right app. Pick a platform that works well on mobile and is compatible with any medium the customer is using to speak with you. Also, you need the ability to easily transfer to video calls from other channels, like audio (phone) or live chat. If you use apps that are exclusively for video chat, find ways to connect them with your other channels (an omnichannel customer service is all but necessary nowadays).
- Train your employees. Even if your salespeople already have deep knowledge of your products, they might still need some mock video chats to get used to the new process. After all, showing features in-person and while holding a tablet is bound to be a somewhat different experience.
- Let your customers know they have the option. Prospects who were interested in buying before the COVID-19 outbreak might have put their purchase on hold, thinking they’re unable to see the product while at home. Make sure they know you’re giving them that option, for instance, by sending an email asking whether they’d like to have a product walkthrough via video.
Want to see how to use video chat with customers to sustain your business? Request a demo now.
Provide video support
Video chatting while providing support helps agents connect with customers better – it adds a human touch to an interaction that will inevitably happen online. Also, customers can actually show your agents what’s going wrong with a product they’ve purchased. Imagine trying to explain that your new kitchen counter has some weird spots in places. Actually being able to show it might help the agent understand what’s going wrong and how it can be fixed.
How can you provide excellent support with video?
- Make sure the tech is effective. Just like in the other use cases, it’s important the software can support smooth video calls. When you receive support calls, you need customers’ information at hand, too, so make sure your software provides a unified customer view.
- Leverage cobrowsing. Along with video, you can also see a customer’s screen and interact with it to provide better service. If, for example, a customer has an issue with their printer, you can establish a connection via video and then use cobrowsing to help them file a refund application with the manufacturer.
- Train your agents. Video is great, but it also leaves you exposed. Body language, facial expressions, and gestures can all be seen – and while this is good for cultivating trust, it also takes some trial and error to get right. Your agents might need to get used to providing support this way, if they’ve been primarily on-site until now. Also, since tensions could run high during a crisis, make sure they can look (and actually be) sympathetic to reduce customer stress.
Video is forever
Having to suddenly recreate physical interactions through video isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But, think of the bright side: you’ll get to test your methods of using video at a time of increased demand. This leaves more room for experimentation later on since you’ll already have some insight on what is most helpful to customers. And what may have taken your business years might actually happen sooner: offering a complete and positive digital experience to customers in the long-run.