The Value of Video

Businesses that want to know how video can improve customer service need only to look to Verizon Wireless for the answer.

The wireless carrier faced a big challenge, as increasingly sophisticated smartphones meant customers were requiring more support at the same time that call center costs were rising. These customers could be served online—but only if the information could be conveyed in an easier format than plain text and images.

The solution was to create a series of videos addressing common questions, such as "How do I block calls and messages?" and add those videos to Verizon's Web site. The videos were a hit. Customers who used them were able to get their questions answered quickly, without waiting for a call center rep.

As Verizon found, video can help your business improve the customer service experience in a cost-effective manner. If your strategy is to move more customer service to the Web, online video is a good option.

A well-executed video strategy can improve pre- and post-sale service in many ways. Following are seven reasons to adopt video as part of your service strategy:

Videos can reduce product returns. A recent analysis by Accenture found that manufacturers, communications carriers, and electronics retailers spend about $13.8 billion annually handling products that have been returned, despite the fact that approximately 95 percent of the products have nothing wrong with them. In addition, Accenture noted that consumers need to be better educated about the products they buy. You can use video as an effective salesperson and product expert to make it more likely customers will be well-informed about a product before they make a purchase, and less likely to have a frustrating experience, resulting in a return

Video is easier than text. Steve Jobs had a vision that Apple products should be so easy to use that an instruction manual would not be needed. This vision has created an expectation that consumers shouldn't have to work so hard, and that reading an instruction manual is work. You can cater to this learning style by providing clarity with informative videos about your business or its products. Enhancing the pre-sales experience can help deflect calls that would normally be made to your customer service representatives.

Video shows more than static images. You can show your customers up-close images about how a baby stroller works, but only video can show clearly how that baby stroller folds up, or how the seat reclines. Video can be the solution that helps solve a problem of consumers returning items they didn't understand because a static image didn't tell the whole story.

Video can reduce repeat calls and post-sale support costs. Oracle's "Best Practices for Improving First-Contact Resolution in the Contact Center" report (April 2012) estimates that, industrywide, about 35 percent of calls to contact centers are repeat calls. Customers tend to call a contact center more than once when they find a product too complex to understand. Offering them a video that shows how to assemble a product, or helps them better understand a product prior to purchasing it, will reduce those repeat calls.

Video can convey trust and transparency. Research consistently shows that consumers will filter out a one-sided message, such as a TV commercial. On the Web especially, they are looking for content that has a trustworthy, authoritative tone. Offering video content from an expert (rather than a celebrity) is more likely to create a strong connection with your customers.

Video enables a higher quality experience. When a customer has to slog through an endless set of voice options just to "get a human," it's a frustrating experience that may reflect poorly on your business. The same goes for when a cellphone call to a customer support center drops, or if there is a long wait on hold to reach someone. Offering video tutorials on how to pay a bill or manage accounts online, for example, keeps your customers more informed and makes it less likely they will suffer any of the inconveniences of a bad customer service experience.

The Web has become a video medium. In 2013, 90 percent of Internet traffic will be in video format, according to Cisco projections, and 163 million viewers will stream more than 26 billion videos. The way people are sharing and disseminating information on the Web is becoming more and more video-driven. If your business offers compelling video content, your customer is getting the following message: "This business understands my needs and wants to proactively make my experience a good one." As a result, you'll increase your chances of developing a positive relationship with that customer.

The proliferation of video is fundamentally changing the way your company will conduct business with its customers. The sooner your business embraces video as an essential part of your service strategy, the better positioned you'll be for the oncoming video wave.

Craig Wax is the CEO of Invodo, where he leads Invodo's overall market strategy, product vision, and investor relationships.

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