Why video chat raises the ante on customer service

'They're going to look at you and immediately realize, just by your posturing, whether you understand the technology.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

You have probably already been through this exercise -- I've been through it about 15 times -- when your internet service is down, you call customer service, and over the phone, the rep tells you to first, check to see if your computer is plugged in, then if your modem is connected to the wall socket, and on and on and on....

Vala Afshar, chief marketing officer/chief customer officer at Enterasys, says emerging video chat capabilities -- especially mobile video -- will soon be changing the dynamic between call center reps and customers.  Essentially, it opens up some of the more intuitive or non-verbal signals that will enhance communication. Once a customer initiates a video chat, communication is enriched ten-fold, he says. "Now, if you look at a customer in their eyes, you’re not going to read scripts, you're not going to ask them rudimentary questions such as, 'is it powered on,' 'reset...,'" he explains.

Val recently joined well-known tech pundits Robert Scoble and Michael Krigsman (who also contributes to CBS interactive sister site ZDNet) in a lively chat exploring the ways computing innovations are reshaping customer and employee interactions.

The face-to-face contact now enabled through video contact is a two-edge sword. If support staff isn't well trained in the company's technology or methodology, customers will quickly spot it. "They’re going to look at you and immediately realize, just by your posturing, whether you understand the technology. I think mobile social and video is going to be a challenge for call centers in enterprises, especially high tech. If in 10 seconds, the customer realizes they know more about the technology than your call center rep, you’re in trouble."

Visibility is a key benefit of the blending of mobile and analytic technology, and Val and Scoble agree that for every business going forward, predictive algorithms will be a standard tool. Scoble points to the example of Google Now, a new online service available on Android smartphones that mashes up data from various sites and one's personal calendar to serve as a virtual scheduling assistant -- that knows what the immediate future brings.  "It tells you that your next meeting is an hour and it's across town, and you better leave right now because traffic is getting bad," he illustrates.

"It's looking inside your Gmail and calendar for context."  Such capabilities provide unprecedented views of what is going on across the enterprise as well, he adds. "This means an enterprise has a perfect view of what their business is right now. You get to see every truck at FedEx, every customer, every financial transaction, in real time, from a cell phone."

(Thumbnail photo: Joe McKendrick)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards