Simon JohnsonSimon JohnsonMay 19, 2020
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9min1002

Video conferencing has been established as a new communication norm since the majority of the UK population began working from home.

Whether it’s conducting work meetings or catching up with friends and family in the evenings and at weekends, major players such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are some of the technologies fostering face-to-face interaction, albeit through a camera.

So, while this form of communication has temporarily become the go-to for many of us, will it continue to be in the future?

According to figures released in March, yes.

Pre-COVID-19, the global video conferencing market was expected to nearly double over the next seven years, growing from $6.1 billion in 2019 to $11.56 billion by 2027. The technology isn’t new and has been a trend since the early days of Webex and GoToMeeting, but continued growth is being maintained by business leaders’ desire to improve productivity and reduce international travel. Video conferencing offers real-time, face-to-face interaction anytime, anywhere around the globe.

However – when it comes to customer service – ask most people to describe their typical interaction with a brand and they’ll likely give examples of telephone calls, emails, or maybe even text-based chat. Video doesn’t even come into the equation.

But as consumers become more comfortable with video conferencing in their work and personal lives, will we see more businesses turning to video to provide customer support? All signs point towards “go”.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe a video revolution in customer service will occur. The business benefits will be too irresistible to ignore.

1. The human touch

Live video chat will represent a powerful evolution of live text chat and phone support. By providing video support, customers are more likely to feel that they are receiving undivided attention – and that they are important to the brand.

This in turn will help drive customer loyalty, provide a more ‘human’ customer support experience, and ultimately enables the business to build deeper connections with its customers.

2. Effective problem solving

Today, video tutorials are already an integral part of customer self-service. It is much easier and quicker to watch a video explaining how to solve any product issue, than it is through reading text or images. Furthermore, these guides can help build engagement and offer a personal touch across the customer life cycle.

However, while they are a great asset for solving common problems, it is not an efficient use of a business’ time to make a video guide for every single issue that could arise with a product or service.

Let’s take an internet service provider (ISP) as an example here. If your internet connection keeps cutting out and you need assistance, a tutorial video on how to reset your router or test your internet speed would be helpful.

However, if this fails to solve the problem, it is likely that you will need to call your ISP and explain the issue over the phone. If it’s a technical issue, this can present a challenge for both the (let’s assume, non-technical) customer and the (technical) agent, and could likely result in the agent sending out a technician to solve, what could have been, a fairly straightforward fix.

Had this been a video call, the agent could have combined live video chat with a screen sharing tool – simultaneously reviewing the problem in real-time and testing solutions on-the-go. Not only would this have saved the ISP both time and money, it also enables agents to build a closer relationship with the customer, and the customer to get back online much sooner, with less hassle.

3. Scale and stand out from the crowd

While many large businesses may not have the infrastructure to efficiently run live video customer service just yet, it is likely that it will become a key solution for those that provide a premium service and want to differentiate by offering a more personalised and real-time experience.

It is a cost-effective way for companies, especially those who are looking to expand their customer bases and scale-up, to provide an ‘above-and-beyond’ service.

4. Laying the foundation for future technology

Of course, video isn’t the only innovation currently being explored in the domain of customer service.

Applications of augmented reality (AR) and voice assistance (VA) are still on the horizon but could soon provide a wealth of opportunity to brands when it comes to sales and customer support.

For example, in future, businesses could use AR-enabled devices to make agents appear in a customer’s own environment – making the interaction appear more human and natural – imagine a scenario where support literally appears beside you and shows you how to overcome the ‘blue screen of death’.

We’re already seeing the huge benefits this technology can bring to customers – IKEA has had enormous success with its IKEA Place augmented reality app which helps shoppers visualise how the furniture will look inside their homes.

Investing in a video platform now will help companies keep pace with changing customer demands and enable them to use the learnings and infrastructure to deliver a superior support experience, once technology such as AR becomes more accessible for customer service.

Will it become the norm?

The business benefits of using video conferencing for customer service are clear. However, for it to really catch on, it will have to be both more effective and more efficient than traditional support channels.

Customers will always want to maintain the shortest route to an answer or solution, and they will likely sacrifice the human experience to get there. This doesn’t mean that humanising the customer support journey isn’t crucial, it is, and video conferencing has an important role to play in this.

It will, however, need to be part of a wider omnichannel strategy, and used to augment, not replace, existing self-service support channels.


Gary WilliamsGary WilliamsApril 28, 2020
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7min1264

Cyber fraud has seen a 55 percent year-on-year increase in the UK in recent years with criminals successfully stealing £1.2 billion through fraud and scams in 2018. The world of telecommunications is far from immune, with 170m fraudulent calls blocked globally in 2018.

Due to this, personal data has become an ever more sensitive topic as governments try to combat the rising tide of technology-based crime. This in turn has led to more regulatory legislation, such as GDPR, to try and minimise the risks posed by fraudsters.

This has been coupled with a desire for an improvement in call quality, especially following high profiled cases of like the PPI scandal.

Call centre managers want to be able to see how well their agents deal with customers and cater to their needs and ascertain the comparative value of their agents more now than ever before.

The cost of compliance

With the increases in regulation and the desire for a higher standard of service, compliance has become an increasingly hot topic in the call centre industry. Strict compliance procedures are now the norm for many call centre operations and by virtue of that fact, so are auditing procedures.

Auditing calls to maintain adherence to regulations is a costly endeavour for call centres. It is a huge drain on centres resources as they take the time and cost to transcribe recorded calls for audit.

For a start, regulation across Europe tends to require a large proportion of calls are recorded – and though this does vary by industry it is still a substantial endeavour in a call centre that can often have 200 to 250 agents. This also means that many companies using manual auditing procedures, audit at random and so not all calls are monitored which can lead to increased fines for BPO’s.

Once these calls have been transcribed, the sample texts, along with the corresponding calls go to the internal audit team, a group of highly skilled and experienced industry professionals which varies in size according to the type of business and the scale of the audit task required.

Therefore, this is not only a cost to the business but also affects operations as it reduces the call taking capacity of the company as calls are passed across. It’s a double hit to the company as costs increase and revenue is reduced putting huge pressure on the margins for the business.

A digital reprieve

Previously the analogue nature of compliance meant that the costs associated were large. However, in the digital era it is possible to automate many of the steps needed to complete these procedures.

Automated compliance monitoring allows businesses to combat the increased costs associated with call monitoring. This type of technology automatically checks call adherence to the corresponding script and flags any deviations. This means that only calls that have deviations need to be checked and within those, the software highlights the areas of concern for the auditor.

The Benefits of Automated Compliance Monitoring

Automated compliance monitoring reduces the time needed to audit calls, lowering costs and increasing the value of employees for the call centres. Reduced auditing times also benefits employees as the time that they spend on repetitive auditing tasks can be reduced too.

This means that a high level of motivation is easier to maintain as employees can focus on more cognitively rewarding tasks. Other benefits include:

  • Reducing costs, improving margin and making Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) call centres more competitive

The time spent monitoring calls is minimised due to the efficiency of automating the process.  Fewer staff are required thus substantially reducing costs and for BPO’s this means they can expand their business more easily.

  • Better use of time

AI-driven solutions are able to screen calls quicker and more effectively than humans and can also do this 24/7. This means that the process of compliance is more efficient and is able to give managers a better picture of the business in real-time.

  • Better accuracy

The improved quality of recorded calls in the digital era also means that solutions that have adapted recognition engine models to audio patterns are actually able to recognise the content of the audio easier than human ears could. This makes them not only faster than their human counterparts, but also more accurate as well.

This level of accuracy is particularly important in the BPO contact centre setting, where compliance failures can be met with penalties that threaten the overall margin levels of the business.

Greater accuracy in the compliance process can reduce the risk of such failures and can even be used as a selling point when engaging with businesses who are keen to ensure their chosen BPO is able to guarantee high levels of compliance and quality control when speaking to their customers.

Automated compliance monitoring is part of a wider range of technologies that are helping to reduce the burden on our call centre professionals, brought by such necessary but mundane tasks.  They free up employees to focus on customer-facing, more engaging work.

Employee satisfaction is raised whilst reducing costs and improving sales figures.  Managers and business owners are provided with a more detailed and up-to-date view of the company, helping to improve overall productivity and profitability.


Ross FobianRoss FobianApril 24, 2020
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6min1480

IVRs were invented in the 1960s as a way for businesses to automate the previously manual process of routing calls to the relevant departments. With the introduction of touch-tone dialling, the integration of IVRs into businesses ramped up in the 70s and 80s and then became prolific in the 90s.

But in truth, IVR technology has all but stagnated in its development since then and the core functionality remains notoriously awkward and manual, for both callers and call handlers. We’ve all been on the end of an IVR call, so it’s not surprising to hear that drop off rates can be as high as 50%.

How many times have we all endured an IVR only to get to the end with no option that suits our needs? By the time the generic voice, usually in received pronunciation, starts churning out Press 1 for… we’ve already had enough. The result? Phones are often slammed down in frustration. In fact, the IVR was voted the most annoying invention of all time in 2012. Customers are, at this point, switching off from a brand, meaning businesses could really be missing out.

The IVR problem

Despite the issues that callers and businesses have with IVRs, they have long been the most efficient way of routing customers to their desired location.

We are all too aware in this industry that IVRs are more of a necessary evil, rather than the pinnacle of customer experience. Callers usually want answers quickly, or they’re ready to buy. They don’t want lengthy wait times or endless options to pick from (which they may forget). And, when they finally get to speak to a human, they don’t want to repeat their enquiry all over again.

While digital marketing teams are constantly striving to optimise the online journey for customers and make this as seamless as possible, the journey is broken by an IVR process that now feels antiquated. From a customer service perspective, IVRs rarely contribute to ensuring a brand retains, or even enhances, its reputation across all channels.

Catering to expectations

As well as seamless journeys, consumers today expect personalised experiences too. We expect Netflix to recommend the next binge-worthy series we’ll want to consume based on our previous viewing habits, or for Spotify to tell us what our next favourite album will be. We want UberEats to remember our old orders so we can repeat them, and we crave the convenience of Amazon Prime.

Stretching across eCommerce, entertainment apps, social media and email, personalised digital experiences are delivered to consumers every day. Yet the act of making a phone calls has, until now, been a process untouched by the possibilities that personalisation offers.

The value of phone call personalisation

Everyone in the business of phone calls knows how valuable they can be.

They tend to have a much higher conversion rate than clicks – between 30% and 50%.

As a comparison, the average conversion rate for clicks is 2.35%. Being able to capitalise on this conversion rate and personalise the phone call experience has huge potential for those organisations who rely on inbound phone call revenue. And this goes far beyond your bank knowing your name when you call them.

If brands can use data collated from a caller’s online journey, for example, the IVR can be completely bypassed. Let’s say the caller has been looking at holidays to Florida on a travel website, their subsequent call to the contact centre can be routed to the best call handler for the job – immediately speaking to the Florida expert and not having to ‘Press 1’ for anything.

RIP IVR

The results of removing the IVR ‘barrier’ are impressive.

For example, Virgin Holidays removed their short IVR and has seen a 48% increase in call-to-sale conversions. For a business that takes location-specific knowledge for its call handlers seriously (they even send call handlers to their specialist locations for first-hand experience) this has been a big deal.

As for that generic ‘received pronunciation’ IVR, callers can now be linked to an agent with the same accent as them, for an even greater level of personalisation based on where they are calling from.

It may seem like a small barrier, but when customers are ready to buy, the last thing you need is an unnecessary hurdle. Ensuring the customer journey is as smooth and welcoming as possible, and making the phone call feel as personal as possible, can reap big rewards.

RIP IVRs. We can’t say any of us will miss you.




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