Video Chat

Looking Customers in the Eye: Pros and Cons of Video Chat

September 20, 2021
12:00 am

Video has become a big part of people’s daily lives. And as with all types of technology, the pros and cons of video chat have been getting clearer with time.

For example, as remote work becomes more commonplace after the COVID-19 outbreak, so will video chat. But, there are still cons attached to the use of video conferencing. 

So, the first step to recap the benefits and address disadvantages of video chat is to know what they are.

The advantages of video chat for customer service

Video chat can undeniably provide you with a competitive advantage if you use it right. Here are three important benefits:

1. Promoting better communication

This is a big one in our list of pros and cons of video chat. Audio is great, but actually being able to see the person you’re talking to allows for more trust and increases customer satisfaction. An interesting point is that we’re also hardwired to respond to faces, seeing them even when they’re not there (note how this church building looks like the face of a chicken, for example).

Church By The Sea in Madeira Beach, Florida - The pattern-seeking human mind sees a chicken as the face of this building

When it comes to business, video helps you build rapport with customers and personalize sales and support. For example, are they being hesitant when you describe your service’s benefits or are they enthusiastic? Do they understand what they need to do to resolve a support issue or are they having trouble getting it right?

It can also help placate any concerns or frustrations customers may have. Seeing a friendly face, or the comforting expression of a customer support agent, could make all the difference to a customer’s mood.

Example of answering a customer question through Acquire video chat

2. Replacing on-site experiences

Think about it: video is a way to see things without having to be there in person. If it works for meeting customers, it can work for choosing products, too.

During the pandemic, physical distancing measures made this mandatory. The situation gave retailers a headache, but some realized video can save the day.For example, using Acquire, Level 4.0 has been able to bring the digital showroom to life.


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3. Making support easier

Imagine the difficulty of explaining to a customer service rep exactly how damaged the package you received was or describing the discoloration of your new bed sheets using only words. Video solves that service problem, even if customers didn’t realize it was something that needed solving in the first place.

Acquire Video Chat Software for Personalized Customer Support
Example of a live chat becoming a video chat at the click of a button, through Acquire’s customer experience platform

That’s exactly what Furniture Retailer Dufresne tried (and succeeded) to do. Their repair technicians and their guests started using video chat for support operations. Technicians got to inspect wear-and-tear issues, such as unlevel furniture or stains, via video. This helped reduce repair visits by 50 percent, improving service speed and keeping repair costs low.

The same approach can work for a variety of issues with products or services. Car breakdowns, damaged packages, scratches on mobile devices, and more, can all be handled (or at least assessed) faster via video.

The disadvantages of video chat for customer service

While the benefits of video are undeniable, it’s not a panacea. Keeping the disadvantages of video conferencing in mind will help you address them more effectively:

1. Risking a sense of discomfort

Video may make some people uncomfortable because they’re putting additional effort into appearing tidy and professional – not a concern on voice calls or live chat.

Another potential psychological negative is that many people don’t like constantly looking at themselves. In some cases, seeing their face in the top corner of their screen can cause stress, especially if they have a tendency to be self-critical. For our fellow humans who have psychiatric disorders (e.g. body dysmorphia), video chatting may cause trauma, too, making the practice less accessible.

The fix:

First, it might just require some getting-used-to. The more we get into the habit of seeing our own image, the easier it’ll be.

Second, video should always be optional. If you see a customer is uncomfortable, there’s no need to force them to keep their camera on. It might be worth training agents to respond properly and giving them the tools to do it more efficiently. For example, platforms like Acquire let the agent turn video chat into a cobrowsing session or live chat if needed without any hassle.


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2. Leaving room for distractions

The cat that walks right over the keyboard, the other person’s partner in the background, the lighting, the messy room – you get the idea. None of these distractions exist in audio calls, but they can be a problem with video.

The fix:

Once again, practice makes perfect. For salespeople or support agents, focusing on the customer and not on distractions is a professional skill that gets cultivated over time. Most skilled salespeople are able to tune out anything that isn’t relevant to the task at hand.

Other techniques involve dimming lighting in your screen or using sticky notes to cover up the distracting parts in the video.

For your customers’ sake, it’s worth making your own space as easy to look at as possible. Advise your team to choose a quiet spot without much movement, whether by animals or people. 

(Well, animals might occasionally provide comic relief and help break the ice, so think about what makes the most sense on a video chat-by-video chat basis. Did you know you could even rent a goat for your zoom calls to lift your team’s spirits?).

3. Putting faith in good internet connection

Video conferencing is much more demanding in terms of bandwidth than other online communication methods. Maybe this is part of why team meetings that involve video take so much time to set up (15 percent of an hour-long meeting is wasted this way).

This can cause an issue when you’re servicing multiple locations. Your customers in New York may have better connections than customers in London or vice versa. Sometimes, you may need to shut off video altogether to increase the quality of audio.

The fix:

You can’t control the internet connection quality on the other side. But, you can still make sure you’re using good video conferencing tools to launch video chats. This helps keep video chatting fast and stable. 

For example, Acquire’s platform is lightweight and ensures video calls are hassle-free. It doesn’t require any downloads (which can get difficult over poor connections) and agents can switch from video chat to live chat or audio calls when needed, providing a full omnichannel experience easily and effectively.

Video is the way to go

Now that we’ve weighed the pros and cons of video chat, we can say that the benefits make video worthwhile. Invest in the right technology and train your employees, and you’ll be ready to reap the rewards.

What do you think about video in customer service? Let us know in a comment below.


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