We know live video chat is extremely popular in personal communication and entertainment, but what is the commercial upside to it? I showcase how new cutting edge technology with live video chat is letting visitors engage directly with brand reps – providing a more personal and helpful experience for customers and client prospects, and improving the bottom line for enterprises.
How (Website) Live Video Customer Chat Works
I originally reported for the Video Commerce Consortium blog earlier this summer about how video chat technology was becoming more widely adopted by both established and upcoming brands to better service their customers, client prospects, and even the general public.
Here is an overview of how website live video chat for enterprises works, using the vee24 platform as one example. (I refer to visitors using the live video chat as "User”, the brand providing the live video chat service as the "Provider," and the person assisting the user as the "Specialist.”)
- Users select the "Get Live Help 'Video Chat'" button, which appears on every page of the site.
- Users then can choose to do either one-way or two-way video (no camera required), and to either do audio or just text chat using their keyboard.
- While the live video chat is taking place, the Specialist can receive the User's permission to take over their browser window or desktop. This allows the Specialist to navigate the site for them, and provide assistance such as: Product recommendations, compare merchandise, demonstrate features, answer questions, and discuss details.
Benefits Live Video Chat On Business Websites
Live video chat technology has improved a great deal in the past couple years in providing a significantly more visual and visceral experience than regular text or audio chat, where both the User and the Specialist are on the same page. Here are some specific benefits:
- Real-time, one-on-one personal user/prospect/customer/shopper assistance.
- End users can see a product up close.
- Ability to share Web screens with the end user, share the site navigation, and direct them to the web page and product(s) they ask about.
- Help answer questions about procedures on how to do something or use something.
- Establish personal connections from real-time, social conversations with a visual context and human face.
- Make online shopping and other purchase decisions more efficient and enjoyable.
- Makes your own company or client's key influencers more accessible, approachable, personable, and overall just much more "social.”
Enterprise Uses For Website Live Video Chat
Live video chat offers a lot of possibilities with the combination of two-way communication, shared screens, the ability to actually see and audibly talk with the provider, and have a degree of anonymity or transparency – whatever your preference may be.
- Demonstrations: For example, showing how a product, service, or other solution can be used (and recommended uses); while watching how someone else is attempting to use it (and offering them help).
- Sales: For example, hotels and resorts can use live video chat to show people the actual rooms they will be staying in; and present more information and answer questions about their travel and stay.
- Customer assistance: Answering questions and responding to feedback on a product, feature, brand, or other offering; and just providing information, resources, and direction to the customer with their need.
- Consulting: For example, an attorney, or a professional in one's field of interest could offer advice based on the client's needs. It could also be used for both clients and vendors to size each other up and save a lot of time.
- Counseling: Provide individuals, couples, or groups with private & confidential counseling on sensitive issues; which they might otherwise be unable to see some locally in their area (or can't travel to see). People suffering from physical illness or injury can also utilize live video chat to have a healthcare professional or loved one provided them with reassurance about their condition and treatment.
- Professional guidance & training: "You could use the system for helping a customer design a kitchen or room, jointly utilizing room design software." says Andrew.
- Interviewing: Take one such example – the job interview. The technology would be great for 1st pass recruitment, where you could evaluate a candidate remotely before getting them in for a formal interview.
- eCommerce: Let's shoppers see and talk to a personal shopping assistant or specialist, who can hold up the product to the camera, and direct customers to more resources on their website and 3rd party websites.
- Charity: People interested in pledging money could have the opportunity to video chat with a celebrity, a spokesperson, or one of the actual charity recipients (who can share their personal story, and engage in a real 2-way communication). For example, you could use technology to gain extra donations on charity telethons. People could donate on line with the chance of being able to video chat with a star.
Thanks to Andrew Henshaw, CEO of the video chat platform provider vee24, for sharing some of his own examples and helping me with putting together this list.
Should You Consider Live Video Chat Technology for Your Business?
Depending on the quality and the features, companies can spend can spend anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 on the video production equipment; and video software costs an additional $500 to $1,000 per month. Plus you also have to pay for your own live help specialists, who might need to be expected to be around 24/7 if you're doing international business.
Should a professional live video chat technology discourage a sole proprietor, or a small enterprise? Well, vendors like vee24 will claim that the cost of solution isn't about size of business; instead, it's more measurable by the cost or complexity of the product or service being offered.
"For example, you could be a huge music download business, but the people shopping do not need help or advise on what album or song to buy. Conversely, you could have a small legal practice that can pick up a client who needs to have a little reassurance before committing to take legal action that could generate $1,000's from a single transaction." says Andrew.
"From a straight financial perspective, as a quick rule of scale, any business that has more than 2,000 web visits per month and products or services that cost over $50 (or shopping baskets that typically grow to become $50) would see a positive ROI from the use of video chat technology.”
Tips for Doing Live Video Chat With Your Business
Whether you go with a higher-end technology provider or an entry-level platform (like Skype for Business), here are some things I recommend for introducing people to your live video chat enterprise program:
- Include a video tutorial and FAQs on your service, and;
- Be prepared to do lots of hand-holding for newbies.
"When we first started video chat – and we were the first in the United States to do it – customers were blown away" said Eric McCoy, CEO of Heels..com "A lot of customers actually clicked on the 'help me now' button; and when a person popped up, they would hang up really quickly. They had no idea that an actual person via one-way video was going to pop up and they were freaking out. They were saying things like, 'Oh my gosh, can this person see me?' We actually had to create videos to introduce it before it even happened to get rid of the shock factor.”
Want More Resources On Enterprise Live Video Chat?
Below are some links to my earlier coverage on live video chat enterprise solutions on The Video Commerce Consortium blog. (While the VCC site is geared more to retail and e-commerce, there's a lot of good information on video marketing and video solutions for all kinds enterprises):
- Is live video chat a good customer service solution for your business? (Interview with vee24's CEO, Andrew Henshaw)
- Is live video chat technology a good investment for retail websites? (Interview with Heels.com CEO, Eric McCoy)
- Live Video Chat in eCommerce Websites: The Future of Customer Service? (Interview with Land's End VP, Joan Conlin)
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