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Matching a face to the voice

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Consumers want options when they're dealing with customer service agents. Over the past decade, call centres in SA have needed to incorporate e-mail, Web chat and social media into the list of channels they support. Now, video appears to be the next on the list, thanks to growing consumer adoption and comfort with Web-based video services, as well as the growing maturity of a range of enabling technologies.

Abroad, companies such as IKEA and Verizon have adopted video support in an effort to improve their customer experience. In addition to allowing customers to video-chat with contact centre agents, many companies are using video to provide their customers with customer how-to and troubleshooting guides.

Closer to home, Nedbank has launched a new video banking channel that connects clients visiting a branch face-to-face with experts - using the video conference capabilities of Microsoft Lync. Available at Nedbank's flagship 'Branch of the Future' at Fox Street, in Johannesburg's central business district, this video option has delivered impressive results.

No plug-ins

Within weeks, Nedbank saw 40% of its customers using the new solution, says Uriel Rootshtain, business lead for the Office division at Microsoft South Africa. The bank also saw the likelihood of clients recommending Nedbank to family and friends increase to 86%, a 10% improvement. In future, similar services could be provided to a company's customers via the Web or an app, allowing companies to interact with customers in new ways, Rootshtain says.

Another technology that could help spur video in customer service environments is WebRTC, an open source standard that allows users to communicate with each other by voice and video through a Web or mobile browser, without the need for extra software or plug-ins.

For the consumer, WebRTC makes it simple to click to call a contact centre directly from any HTML 5 standard browser. Because the standard features robust encryption capabilities, it's secure enough for most firms to use it for customer-facing interactions.

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