With nearly 1 in 5 of us using Skype and Facetime regularly according to Ofcom, what are the opportunities to apply video to customer contact? Using digital ethnography to study the use of video in customer service, and hearing executives talk about their experience (at the recent Jon Snow’s Director’s Club Brainstorm in Central London http://directors.org.uk/), it’s clear that success with video is a function of organisational strategy. Some do it well, some not so and others haven’t begun to try.

Our latest Autonomous Customer research for BT and Avaya shows a growing video culture. It’s all around us, whether on electronic billboards on the main roads into London, Facebook feeds full of Vines, online newspaper articles packed with amateur footage; video is everywhere. Fibre-optic broadband and 4G networks make apps such as Periscope possible and who knows, Google Earth may soon be live!

The automotive industry is connecting with customers using video. VW service centres have a creative way of taking advantage of our enthusiasm for video. During a routine car service, the technician will film your car’s engine, body and underside together with an audio commentary of any faults or issues. The video is hosted in the cloud with a link to the file sent by e-mail to the car owner, together with a written report including the estimated costs of repairs. This highlights some of the factors which make for a successful implementation of video in customer contact:

1. Seeing is believing – in any industry where trust is at a premium, or reassurance is needed, video can help give the customer confidence to act.

2. Ease of understanding – often people find it easier to comprehend the visual. So, some of the more successful implementations of video chat haven’t only relied on person to person communication, but also show the product or service being demonstrated.

Using video in Customer Experience


3. Hollywood quality is not a pre-requisite – the standard of video productions can vary. The quality of video and sound doesn’t need to match a blockbuster from Hollywood. For many organisations, a large number of ‘unpolished’ videos produced by in-house video facilities may be more valuable to customers than a few high quality productions.

4. People’s attention spans can be short and their time at a premium – so keep videos very short at less than one minute.

5. Put videos in the right place on websites, in the correct context, so it’s easy to find for consumers.

6. Create sequences of short videos, signposting when one step leads to another. ‘How to’ videos have become enormously popular on YouTube: How to play Spanish guitar?; How to change a car exhaust on a 1993 Ford Fiesta?; How to shampoo a dog? The subjects available vary hugely. Some brands have YouTube channels and web sites bursting with useful videos. And some are well used with hundreds of views, whilst others are hardly played. Using the power of your online community is vital. It can create videos at little cost to the organisation and help them go viral.

But what of video conferencing and video chat? These are hot topics with many trials underway of person to person video between companies and customers. Video conferencing’s ROI offers savings in time and travel costs fuelling popularity in the post-recession economy. Amazon’s Mayday, Nationwide’s branch based video conferencing service and Barclay’s new video chat are the latest to bring person to person video alive. A successful video chat can create better customer experiences, greater engagement and improved customer satisfaction according to one well known UK mobile phone company. Switching between web-chat and video-chat seems to make sense with complex queries, particularly for most millennials who favour watching videos, rather than reading ‘old fashioned’ text.