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Wanted: More Compelling Examples of Video in Contact Centers

Posted by Paul Desmond

Oct 31, 2014



For at least a couple of years there’s been a lot of chatter about implementing video in contact centers, an idea that on the face of it makes lots of sense. But it appears precious few companies are diving into the technology in a significant way.

When I set out to write this post, I figured I’d do a Google search and find some compelling examples of companies using video in their contact centers to good effect. But it wasn’t quite that easy.

I did find some information on how to implement video in a contact center, and some viable theoretical applications for it. For example, a white paper from Dialogic lays out a number of sound reasons for implementing three flavors of video in a contact center:

  • Interactive voice/video response (IVVR) systems

  • Video-enabled agents

  • Video-enabled callers

Here’s Dialogic’s take on IVVR systems:

Interactive Voice and Video Response (IVVR) systems add a new dimension to the IVR paradigm by giving IVR systems the ability to use dynamic or static video information for caller assistance. IVVR systems offer the following benefits:

  • Address more complex tasks than those addressed by audio-only systems, and deliver instructions for these tasks when and where they are needed

  • Simplify user interfaces on mobile phones

  • Provide video-on-hold that can help solve customer issues or promote company services

That first bullet is probably the one most people think of when they consider video in a contact center. Here are a few examples, again from the Dialogic white paper:

IVVR is well suited for delivering complex instruction sets to users when and where the instructions are needed. For example, suppose a user needs help assembling a newly- purchased piece of furniture. If there is a PC with Internet access close by, the user can access the manufacturer’s IVVR system on the PC and watch a video of the assembly process. On the other hand, suppose a user is standing in the middle of the field with a rented power tool (like a log splitter) that has jammed and cannot be restarted. In this situation, the user may be more inclined to use a video-enabled mobile phone than a PC to access the manufacturer’s IVVR system, which might have a video showing how to clear the jam and restart the machine.

Another example of a situation for which IVVR systems are well suited is if a rental vehicle gets a flat tire. The driver may not know where the spare tire is stowed in the vehicle or how to release it from its mount.

(As an aside, whenever I hear the term IVR I can’t help but think of the great Seinfeld bit when Kramer is trying to offer a movie phone service but quickly learns that humans aren’t so great at detecting Touch-Tone DTMF signals. “Why don’t you just tell me the name of the movie you selected?”)

The paper goes on to lay out the case for video-enabled agents and callers, which mainly come down to providing the ability for callers to show agents what they’re seeing and for agents to provide helpful videos. The classic example is an insurance company that enables callers who want to make a claim to upload videos that show the damage to their home or car.

Where Are The Good Use Cases For Video in Contact Centers?

But it’s amazing how many examples of video in the call center I came across that were not examples of video in the call center. Consider this story from a UK web site with the headline: 6 Examples of video in the contact centre. Had it been titled “3 Examples” it would’ve been just fine but the last three – Google Helpouts, a British Gas YouTube channel and Printed.com delivering video tutorials from its web site – simply don’t qualify because none of them involve contact centers.

And then there’s Cisco, which of course has a vested interest in convincing folks video in a contact center is a good idea. But many of the examples it offers up strike me as under-whelming. Here are four customer examples where Cisco says video would be applicable:

  • One wants to compare features on different appliances - say, dishwashers.

  • Another wants to discuss investment opportunities with a stockbroker.

  • A third needs to get information about mortgage rates fast before making an offer on a house.

  • A fourth customer, from another business, needs to speed up a complex order.

The dishwasher example is a good one as is the complex order, but discussing investment opportunities and getting info on mortgage rates?  Cisco tries to make the case that the ability to see face-to-face, read non-verbal signs and such will help ensure companies understand and trust the sales rep. “In an area where trust is extremely important, dealing with the broker essentially face-to-face can be a game-changer,” Cisco says. Eh, maybe, but I’m OK with just discussing such matters by phone, too.

If companies with a vested interest in implementing video in contact centers can’t come up with more compelling reasons than that, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised that the technology isn’t catching on terribly quickly.  

That said, there certainly are viable reasons for implementing video in a contact center. In a future post, we’ll lay out the options for getting there. In the mean time, I’d love to hear more examples of where you think it makes sense to implement video in a contact center – especially from those who have done it. Just add your two cents in the comments below.

Topics: video, collaboration, Contact Center, Business Case, Unified Communications,

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