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Video Animates Superior Business Communications

By Betsy Wood


We�ve been talking about video for years now, but it has never taken off as a business communications tool. The world has changed, however, and today, video should be considered a vital component of superior business communications.

We often focus on technology � what�s new and what�s hot. This isn�t really about technology; rather, it�s about people who need to be more quickly interconnected than ever before in a vastly more mobile and co-creative world.

What�s changed today? First, customers are much less forgiving. They know you can do better because they have experienced excellent service elsewhere; they also know where your competitors are. It�s very easy for your customers to bolt � and they will � when you don�t live up to their expectations. So, if you screw up customer service even one time, you run the risk of undoing all your previous good efforts, unless you do something different.

Customer expectations, not yours, make the difference

�Something different� means really becoming customer-centric, not merely thinking or talking about it. It means identifying and understanding customer expectations and making it as easy as possible to conduct business with your company 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of where your customers are or how they contact you. Something different also means building learning relationships with your customers so you can think and act in a customer-specific way to build lasting interdependence. Only then can you maximize the value of your business to your customers and the value of your customers to your business.

Becoming customer-centric and understanding customer expectations creates a significant difference for your business. It�s about business effectiveness � doing things better as well as faster. It�s also about adaptability and innovation that will give your business an ongoing competitive advantage.

Video can enrich your business communication to exceed customer expectations. Video also provides you with new channels of communication to ensure that problems are solved and decisions are made immediately. You can craft unique contextual customer services that optimize each interaction opportunity. Video also enhances the ability to bond with your customers to strengthen relationships and build loyalty. It can give you the edge you need to engage your customers and prospects so your business stands out to gain passionate customer advocates.

Video significantly expands service opportunities

Video significantly enhances your service and expands opportunities. You can start in your current contact center and add video capabilities to make it more cutting-edge. One option is to make the time your customers wait for a service representative more productive. Instead of generic �music on hold,� you can deliver customized video clips that answer questions, provide company updates, or make appropriate offers. Video clips quickly cover complex information that would be impossible otherwise.

Another outstanding option comes from supporting video calls. How many of your customers have mobile video phones or computers with video calling capability? What could you do to help them? This could be a substantial untapped market for your company as the number of users continues to grow. Today, mobile phone providers can offer the same level of support for video call customers as they do for phone call customers. This service can be further enhanced by delivering informational video slices to sophisticated mobile devices. But this is only the beginning � a medical clinic could provide better patient care by using video calls to help with diagnosis. Or your business could start a video podcast service. Again, the objective is to offer the same excellent level of service to your customers effortlessly, whether your customers are in the office or on the go.

You might envision video kiosks as an integral component of your superior customer service. These are an excellent start because they can be added to some of your current contact points. For example, a bank can provide help or more complex services like loans at current ATMs. Video also facilitates security, because customer identification is instant. Or, an airline could expand self-service options beyond check-in. With video, you can do a better job faster and complete a customer request the first time. Helping customers immediately impacts customer retention and loyalty notably while reducing your operating costs � a powerful combination for your business.

Once you support video calling, additional capabilities, like video conferencing and video messaging, can easily be added. For example, a large building supply store might have experts available to consult with customers; or a real estate agent might help clients preview homes or fill out mortgage applications. When your customer calls in for service, you can move from voice only to interactive video when it enables more efficient resolution of his problem. It�s often considerably easier to show someone how to do something than to describe it.

Another valuable use for video conferencing is to bring in an expert instantly to improve first contact resolution. Looking back at the contact center scenario, where a service rep is trying to solve a difficult problem, teamwork becomes more dynamic and with greater impact when the CSR can instantly tap into an extended team of available specialists. The customer is happy, having gotten critical answers right away, and it all costs your business less because it eliminates multiple interactions.

Adding video messaging is another logical progression. Video messaging augments your total business communications approach and can help clarify technical issues or deliver better instructions, both for you and your customers.

A video portal can be implemented to provide convenient, 24-hour access to comprehensive information for customers as well as employees. Using friendly and fast speech navigation, users can browse through a selection of news headlines, sports highlights, music videos, or any relevant media and easily download them to their mobile devices. You can keep customers, employees, and partners up to date by delivering company news and new product training information. A video portal significantly enriches the opportunities for you to provide complex and dynamic information previously not possible, creating an additional point of entry to your business.

Foster vital collaboration using SIP

Another change is the wider acceptance and proliferation of converged networks within businesses and service providers. With this shift, converged IP networks and SIP are becoming cornerstones for conferencing and collaboration applications. This allows companies to leverage the power of SIP enterprise-wide to foster vital multimedia collaboration, including video. SIP capabilities simplify communication and collaboration using any device to open limitless communication avenues with customers, partners, and employees. SIP also enables a universal approach that spans enterprise, service provider, wired, and wireless networks.

Because SIP was developed with multimedia communications in mind, it doesn�t have the limitations of previous standards, like H.323. SIP minimizes most of the previous hurdles to video by streamlining communication set-up and eliminating communication device dependence. In the future, SIP will likely be essential to every stage of customer and enterprise communications.

SIP also facilitates important collaboration by adding a presence capability. So, whether it�s instant messaging, a video conference, or a phone call, users will be able to effortlessly know which team members or specialists are available. Employees can customize presence information so that the system provides colleagues with more detailed information, like �Be right back,� or �On conference call for one hour.� Additional personalization let�s users manage call routing and answering, call screening, and call logging to fit individual situations.

Employees can work anywhere, even at home, and have a superb set of tools at their fingertips, making teamwork more versatile and real-time. This powerful set of capabilities translates into a more adaptable work environment, enabling employees to work not only faster, but smarter as well � all of which boosts productivity (and profitability).

Innovation makes you a leader

The most impressive combination for your business brings together breakthrough customer service and a dynamically cooperative work environment to deliver innovation. Innovation makes your business the ongoing leader. But, thinking differently and being able to act in a customer-specific way requires insight and engagement. An engaged business transforms customer communications from just talking to working together, from delayed to immediate, from reactive to proactive.

Innovation, therefore, is just as much about listening to your customers as it is about developing products in a lab. When your business listens and learns from customers, you�ll understand not only what they need, but what motivates them, so your business can anticipate future requirements. Richer video communication can play a crucial role by delivering a proactive and flexible connection with your customers to impart unique value. Innovation endows your business with tremendous differentiation that frees you from competing on price and generic customer service.

The time for video is now. You can continue down the same old path, ignoring whether it makes sense for your customers; or you can do something new and different that makes your customer service and, therefore, your company, distinctive. Animate your customer service with one or more video capabilities to offer superior communication that differentiates your business. Video expands your horizons to provide an exceptional, convenient and seamless customer experience that continues to exceed expectations. Enriched video communication can fuel ongoing innovation to strengthen customer relationships and boost employee productivity for a more profitable business. IT

Betsy Wood is an Evangelist with Nortel Multimedia Applications where she is part of a global team that helps companies deliver definitive customer service. She can be reached by telephone at +1.408.495.7014 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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