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5 Reasons Why Contact Centers Shouldn’t Offer Video Calls

connectingFor the last two years, many of us have gotten intimately familiar with Zoom, Teams, Meet, WebEx, and a myriad of other video-enabled conferencing solutions. These solutions can approximate (and in some ways, surpass) the meetings we used to have in person, so much so that many companies have decided to keep the work-from-home model that they had shifted to during the pandemic.

Now that video conferencing for meetings has been normalized, some companies want to push the technology even further and introduce it to the contact center for customer communications. The idea that Customer Experience will be enhanced when customers and agents can see who they’re talking to holds an allure because it can foster trust, personal connections, and provide the ability to read body language and facial expressions. Even so, while there are so many technologies to improve Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX) in the Contact Center world, I would argue this tool isn’t one of them for many contact centers.

Here are 5 important reasons why you should not adopt customer-facing video call technology in your contact center:

Appearance Biases

Many years ago, while training for my very first contact center role, I was sent to "nest" or "y-jack" with an experienced agent. This is a common training practice that allows you to experience calls as they happen while watching an experienced agent execute. In some cases, you might even get to "co-pilot" by either talking or navigating the system so you don't have to do both all at once.

The man I sat with had a tattoo across his forehead that said, "Nothing to Prove". While tattoos have gained a lot of cultural acceptance recently, they still conjure preconceived notions for a lot of people, especially if they're on your face.

As humans, we make snap judgements about people in less than a second based solely on facial appearance. Those judgements play a powerful role in both how we treat others and how we get treated by them. Contact center agents are already judged by their voice – in tone, accent, and word choice. We don't need to throw in appearance as well because it has nothing to do with their ability to resolve customer needs. Some people seek out contact center work for this very reason - their appearance doesn't get in the way of doing the job.

Personal Space Invasion

While contact center agent performance is monitored in dozens of ways in real-time, many find freedom in working from home because they don't have to get "ready" every day. But if you think it's difficult to hire agents now, try requiring that they also pop on camera for your customers. Now it's not just “work from home”; it's “let every customer into your home”. Virtual or not, many will leave to find a role where that's not required. Customers may feel the same aversion to video for the same reason.

Dress Code Compliance

One of the great things about working from home for agents is the lack of dress code. For management, not having to deal with dress code violations is also important. As soon as you enable video for customer interactions, we're back to not only dress code, but workspace décor code. And unlike the physical contact center, in which violations are seen as soon as someone walks in the door, you'll have to proactively check on these every day.

Longer Handle Times

You may have carried on a conversation with someone helping you in a retail customer care space that was off topic. Maybe they identified with the team whose logo is on your shirt. Maybe you think their hair looks great. There are lots of ways to build rapport and have longer interactions face to face, and this is a good thing.

Why wouldn't we want that in the contact center, you ask? In an in-person setting, both customer and employee are aware when someone else is waiting for help. There may even be a line queued up. Socially, we understand that we shouldn't hold up the line for chit chat. In the contact center world, the customer is never aware of the queue, and agents may not be, either. That lack of social pressure to wrap things up is just one reason that video will lead to longer handle times.

Obscene Callers

If you've ever worked as an agent in a contact center for any length of time, you've likely had to deal with an obscene caller. While most contact centers have policies and procedures to deal with this incredibly unpleasant and demeaning aspect of the job, imagine the consequences if video was involved.

Are There Any Positives?

You may be wondering, with all these potential issues, why anyone would consider using video in the contact center. As much as video has more drawbacks than advantages, there are some B2B applications when it could be useful.

Let's consider field technicians who may call to provide additional support. Regardless of what they're working on, live video can rapidly provide context. Whether it's guiding through a process, identifying an issue, or identifying a part, there's a case to be made that video can dramatically impact resolution rates in a variety of businesses. Note that these need only be one-way video and the video is coming from a colleague or 3rd party, rather than from the customer.

Innovative and new CX technologies will continue to appear, but contact centers and the businesses they support should always be considering whether they're appropriate and how they contribute to business goals before adding new tech to their toolbox.