How Video Chat Elevates the Customer Experience
As brick and mortar and e-commerce retailing blend into a unified experience for shoppers, video chat has become more popular as a means to enhance sales—whether the final purchase is made online or in store. A report from Insider Intelligence on CX trends that will stick post-pandemic observes, “Using techniques such as AR and remote video, brands and retailers are finding innovative ways to improve discoverability, consideration, and even sales from a distance. Investing in these technologies will go from a nice-to-have to need-to-have in the next few years.”
While video technology has been readily adopted by many strictly e-commerce retailers, physical-store retailers may not recognize how much they can gain in terms of conversions and customer retention when the technology is properly integrated into consumer-focused websites, blogs, mobile apps, and other digital channels. Although global retail e-commerce sales are forecast to rise from an estimated $4.891 billion in 2021 to $5.424 in 2022, the human touch is altogether missing from most virtual shopping experiences. Video chat adds a face-to-face interaction to virtual shopping that can actually mimic the in-store shopping experience.
Live video chat can also be an excellent adjunct for shoppers during their in-store visits. A video chat sales and customer service team can easily augment the regular on-site retail associate team, freeing up both teams to focus on their specifically assigned roles. Since video chat specialists can work remotely, retailers enjoy the added advantage of greater staffing and scheduling flexibility.
Video Chat Makes Efficient Use of Resources
At first, it may be hard to fathom how connecting with a customer via video can be more effective than a face-to-face interaction, but it’s all a matter of how video is leveraged. The numbers tell the story.
Virtual teams—whether connecting by chat, text, email, or video—can reach more customers at a far lower cost per interaction than in-person teams. Based on our experience at MarketSource, a virtual team can complete four times as many customer interactions versus in-store reps and can do so at 4.22 times less cost. Imagine instead of interacting with 1,000 customers, for the same cost you could interact with 4,000 customers. Or, instead of 1 million interactions, you could have 4 million interactions!
As an example, let’s take a 15-person team and look at what they can accomplish virtually vs in-person.
A virtual team offers broader geographic coverage, from covering even remotely located stores to providing coverage across all operating hours, including non-store and nighttime online shopping hours.
Besides optimizing operational expenses, a video rep team mitigates the staffing and scheduling hassles associated with balancing high-traffic and low-traffic stores and seasonal fluctuations. Every customer can reach a product or brand specialist no matter the time of day, the location, or the shopping season.
Clearly, a virtual rep team can do more with the same or even less investment. It’s easily incorporated as a viable component of your hiring strategy, especially during a labor shortage.
Video Chat Amplifies Product Details Online
Lengthy text descriptions about products featured on retail websites may overwhelm some customers, and photo images don’t always show sufficient details about a product to move customers to buy. In fact, some photos and prerecorded product videos just raise more questions!
Scripted and prerecorded phone and chatbot responses are frustrating and are rarely designed to adequately answer every question a customer will have.
Alternatively, an instant connection to a live video chat puts the customer face-to-face with a product specialist—and, potentially, actual products, helping the customer sort out product particulars, discover new features, and differentiate your brand from competitors’ so customers can make an informed buying decision. Such video chats can be conveniently conducted by remote teams via websites or mobile phone. Ideally, chats are accessible to respond to customers whenever and wherever they desire.
Video chat product specialists have the advantage of being able to read each customer’s facial expressions and body language so that their responses are more personalized to each customer. After establishing rapport with the customer, the product specialist can then make product suggestions to cross-sell and up-sell in a way that will lead to a more satisfying purchase and even multiple purchases.
Video Chat Promotes Buyer Confidence in Store
Real-time video chats can easily augment your in-store selling strategy.
Interacting with a retail associate adds a human element to the buyer’s journey, which can lead to a more pleasing buying experience. However, as much as consumers look forward to seeing, touching, and trying out products when they visit a store, retailers may not be able to carry every available product model in a branded line; and even if a product is on the shelf or the sales floor, associates cannot be expected to know all the details about every item. In this case, associates can assist customers in connecting with a live chat product expert to assist the customer in real time.
The customer can have a one-on-one discussion about the product and see a live product demonstration. The product expert can help clarify the needs and desires of the customer, compare features of products one to the other, and make suggestions to move them toward a decision that makes them confident in their purchase. By the end of the video chat, the customer is fully engaged with the brand.
In another scenario, a hangtag on the product displays a QR code that the customer can scan with a mobile phone’s camera, instantly connecting the customer to a product expert. Again, a one-on-one interaction takes place in which the customer is fully informed about the distinctive aspects of a brand and can use the newfound understanding to become a more confident shopper. Ideally, the product expert can facilitate the purchase before ending the chat.
Video Chat Streamlines Customer Support Services
Video chat adds a “real-life” component that is missing from other methods of contacting customer support services, such as a chatbot. Customers appreciate the two-way communication, especially when they can connect instantly without waiting on the phone or waiting for a call-back from a customer service representative.
When a customer can not only hear a customer support representative but also see them as they discuss an issue, a question can be better understood and a problem more readily resolved. This is especially the case when the issue relates to a product’s physical features, assembly, or mechanics. Sending a still photo image attached to an email or as a text message helps, but an in-person, real-time video conversation can clear away customers’ misconceptions about a product and make troubleshooting more efficient and faster.
Getting Started With Video Chat
When you’re ready to explore a video chat solution, keep the following in mind:
1) Your video chat platform should easily interface with your current contact center, customer service, or other virtual tools and mobile apps. Consumers should be able to access video chat from any browser and/or app-enabled device.
2) Your video chat implementation strategy should include a plan for onboarding and training associates on how to effectively use video to drive sales.
3) Be prepared if technical and networking issues arise; you’ll need a technical support system in place and a backup plan for associates to follow should the need arise.
4) Empower your video chat team to expand the positive relationships they have established with customers. This could mean setting up an opt-in that lets customers accept follow-up messaging on their preferred channel (such as text messaging or emailing or using WhatsApp, for instance) from the video chat representative. Take appropriate cybersecurity measures and assure customers of the privacy of their conversations and the security of their personally identifiable information.
5) Consider contracting with a sales outsourcing firm to plan, staff and manage your video chat program, as they can customize video chat to fit your customers’ unique journey and meet your particular goals, while also monitoring results and adapting to your evolving needs.