Can Video Open Up Three Cans of Worms?

In my recent article “Smile! You Just Video Called a Contact Center for Support,” I discussed the continued surge of video in customer service, a trend mentioned by the Avaya 5 experts in their “2013 Top Communications Trends white paper”.

The Avaya 5 said the video “transition is presenting huge opportunities for businesses to interact with customers, partners and employees in rich new ways.” Video also helps deliver on the “know me” trait detailed in “5 key traits of great communications service providers”. Video can help solve problems and help the agent and customer literally see eye-to-eye faster. But as raised by the Avaya 5, video can open up three big cans of worms. While video driven Technology, Human resources, and Legal issues can be daunting, I think the added benefit of gaining access to the 93% of communications that is nonverbal is worth it.

The Avaya 5 said technology “presents challenges for the people who design solutions and the IT organizations that implement and support them. They will need to assess and define their needs, then address an array of technological and policy considerations in delivering video solutions to both customers and employees. What technologies should be used behind the scenes? What quality of service will be guaranteed for which parties? What will be transmitted in high definition?”

If not deployed correctly, video technologies can be much more complicated than voice. If not in perfect synchronization, video and audio can prove to be a terrific distraction instead of adding collaborative value. Just as the native client version of Outlook offers more robust features than its lighter Web version, a thick video client can deliver more functionality than a lighter Web-based client. The Web-based client has advantages that might minimize some customer access issues. If you are going to add video, which client strategy is best for your customers? Do they have the bandwidth/environment that will support a thick full featured client?

While technical considerations are relatively easy to anticipate, the human resource and legal challenges are less obvious. The contact center environment can be very diverse as well as the agents themselves. They can be deployed in central locations, dispersed, at home, in cubes, walled offices, bull pens, in a network operation center, etc. Adding video in each of these scenarios has its own considerations. Recent pilots with video have uncovered a variety of challenges. Let’s touch on a few.

Human resource executives are looking at video from the standpoint of local cultures and issues spanning geographies. Let’s start with clothing. Contact center employees could wear just about anything. Video, reinforcing that 93% of communication involves visual aspects, makes us see employees in a different light. What is appropriate? Business casual? Are uniform or hygiene guidelines required?

What about the background for the contact center employee on camera? Is there proprietary corporate information in the background or on the desk that is now at issue that was never a concern in a voice only world. Can people walk by in the background? Is an open background or window a distraction? What about the contact center employee working in the home environment, such as animals, kids or even lunch? Green screen and chroma key technology enable us to move one step further in managing the background, but it is not a solution to all concerns. Should employees be able to personalize their background or does the background represent another branding opportunity? Are there concerns regarding a proprietary environment?

What about the legal considerations when a conversation includes visual components. In the voice world call recording is pretty standard, but do the same privacy laws across all the global legal regimes apply to video? Broadcasting and recording an image, with live audio/video streaming, across country boundaries can lead to jurisdictional issues. What is the effect of the proprietary information in a customer’s background when on video? While an agent on a global support site will be on camera, what if a customer does not want to be seen? What about privacy concerns?

There are so many non-technical considerations that many implementing have encountered. As we rollout video in our contact centers across the globe, we are quickly building our knowledge base and provide guidance to client companies on these and many other far-reaching issues.

What have been your experiences with rolling out video in the contact center?

Follow me on Twitter @Pat_Patterson_V

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