The coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic effect on all aspects of life – from work and appointments to shopping, entertainment and socializing. When lockdown struck, a large percentage of the country were instructed to work from home, and many have continued to utilize remote working for the foreseeable future. So with more employees now being home-based, it will come as no surprise that video applications, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, have all grown in popularity exponentially since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, Zoom’s daily users surged to more than 200 million in March from a previous maximum total of 10 million.
As we continue to take advantage of these video tools and software, not only for work, but also for leisure, it is clear that virtual meetings have become a part of our daily lives – and are something that many now simply can’t live without. That’s because, within this next normal, it is just as important to be seen as well as be heard on calls to family, friends and colleagues alike. And this rising trend is quickly extending to the way businesses interact with their customers.
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Giving a new dimension to customer experience
It is relatively easy to imagine how a number of scenarios could be transformed by the use of video in the not-too-distant future. A face-to-face chat with the solicitor who is handling a customer’s house purchase, for example, could be replaced by a video call. This would remove the need for both solicitor and customer to stop working and sit down in a meeting room, and it would also tick health and safety boxes, too. The same applies to almost every consultant-business relationship – including accountants, recruitment consultants and even GPs.
Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has already made this a reality by offering video consultations with ‘Attend Anywhere’. This enables outpatient appointments without the need to visit the hospital, where patients can see clinicians ‘virtually’ via a live online video link. In addition, video calls offer greater communication and understanding than a phone call, whilst taking less time (or travel) than a physical meeting. This new patient hub is a hugely positive step towards improving patient access and will significantly reduce postal costs by 50 percent. These kinds of processes, as simple as they seem, can have a huge impact on both the patient experience and in freeing up hospital workers to focus on higher-value tasks.
As well as improving the efficiency of customer interactions, video can also deliver extra value. For example, what if fault diagnosis could be implemented on every electrical appliance in your home, from your boiler to your TV? The ability for the person on the end of the phone to see what you can see might save valuable engineer visits, by ensuring the right person with the right parts is sent to fix the problem. Contact centers may even be able to help customers resolve issues themselves in some cases, saving costly engineer time altogether. The same applies to building inspections, where costly repeat visits can greatly add to the expense and completion time of each project. Incorporating this channel can be useful in delivering great customer experience and a competitive advantage over rivals. It can also offer significant time and cost savings to a business.
Using low-code applications for video management
For businesses looking to utilize video as part of their customer service offering, the next step is setting up an effective application to manage those calls. Here, a video widget can be a simple and cost-effective solution. Thanks to the ease of modern PaaS technologies such as low-code, which allows everyday business users to develop applications without the need for technical skill, these widgets can be designed and developed in house, with minimal intervention from the IT department.
By taking the flexible approach of low-code technology, face-to-face video calls can be added to any app using the video widget. This application can then be used to provide everything needed to easily facilitate meetings with customers, patients, colleagues, brokers, partners and more. Combining video widgets with low-code systems helps to streamline customer experience through direct, or group, video communication. This means that you can implement video calls directly from a button on the screen or the video can be scheduled using the existing calendar or bookings widgets. In addition, businesses can create virtual waiting rooms to manage people queuing and even operate a video appointment system.
Ensuring data security
While it can be easy to get swept up in the benefits that video applications can bring to businesses, making sure data is protected and secure should always be the highest priority. For many organizations that have turned to video conferencing platforms such as Zoom to stay in touch with their employees over recent months, the criticisms over its security standards should be a concern. In this instance, low-code technology can be used to enhance security within applications by ensuring that meetings are securely managed within the existing app interface once a user has logged on.
It’s clear to see that we’re close to completely virtual customer experiences, but the question remains: how far away are we from them becoming the norm? The transition to video-as-standard is already beginning, as phone calls and face-to-face physical meetings continue to be replaced by Teams or Zoom calls. Even as the world begins returns to normal – whatever ‘normal’ will eventually look like – video will be a crucial tool for businesses in a digital-first era. Especially as high-quality customer experiences are growing increasingly hard to create, in today’s changing landscape and as demands and need change and grow. Therefore, businesses must harness the power of technology and utilise the new and exciting ways they can interact with customers in order to succeed.
Richard Billington, Chief Technology Officer, Netcall