Customer support has been around for a long time. And it’s seen some seismic changes since its inception.
From the oldest known letter of complaint (imagine the poor agent who had to process that return!) to tech stacks that monitor and optimize every aspect of a customer’s journey, customer support has existed for as long as businesses have.
In this article, we’re going to explore that evolution and where we believe the future of customer support lies.
The evolution of customer support
Customer support has come a long way in the last few decades — especially since the 80s and 90s, where it made the leap from switchboards to keyboards. More and more businesses were moving online and, so, naturally, their customer support did too.
We’ll all experienced this new digital support in some form: maybe you’ve sent an email asking for updates on a delivery you’re expecting, maybe you’ve waited on hold to speak to an agent about a technical issue, maybe you’ve sent off a quick in-app chat to ask a question about the SaaS platforms you use at work every day. It’s exceedingly likely that every one of us has had their day made much easier — or much harder — by a customer support representative at one point or another.
As customer support continues to evolve, more and more companies are radically altering their CX philosophy to account for the rapid pace of change — especially since the Covid 19 pandemic kicked off.
About 90% of companies now offer some form of online support — whether that’s through email, chat or on social media. The pandemic has also caused the volume of incoming support requests to tick up, with Intercom reporting that over half of customer support teams polled — 53% to be exact — reported an increase in customer inquiries in the last three years.
Given that both the availability of and the demand for customer support is on the up-and-up, companies are looking for any and all ways to optimize their processes. Some have come to rely heavily on automation and most have a strong focus on omni-channel support that accounts for every part of the CX journey.
When you study the trends, you’ll see that there are a few major ones that emerge from all the noise:
- AI and automation are marching ever onwards.
- And companies are focusing more and more on creating personalized and immersive experiences using video. In fact, the use of video in customer interactions increased 16% from 2019 to 2021 — up from 41% to 57%.
How to use video in customer support
The numbers here definitely tell a story: companies are trying their best to balance the crushing weight of an avalanche of incoming support requests using automation — while striving to create memorable and personalized experiences for users who increasingly say that they’re tired of feeling like a number in someone’s ticketing system.
But video customer support isn’t just one thing, so what exactly do we mean by it? Here are all the different ways companies can leverage video:
Pretty self-explanatory — companies often use video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Meet to hop on a call with users and solve technical problems that require instructions that aren’t easy to understand or explain over chat.
According to a recent study by Metrigy, 65% of businesses will use some form of video engagement applications to communicate with their customers in 2023.
While platforms like this can be great to quickly solve complicated problems, they do often run into compliance, data privacy and security issues.
Another way for companies to leverage video in customer support is to use video tutorials — either in their help centers or when communicating with their customers over chat or email using something like Loom, for example.
It’s a great way to collaborate asynchronously with customers who write in with questions. Not everyone likes reading long support articles, so augmenting your self-support centers with videos can be helpful for people who are visual learners.
A slightly more interactive and updated way to collaborate synchronously with customers over video is to make use of cobrowsing technology.
Unlike traditional video conferencing and screen sharing, which are limited in how collaborative you can get, cobrowsing technology allows two or more people to view and interact with the same web content in real time with multi-cursor screen control.
It’s also specifically designed for use in customer support, finance, healthcare and ecommerce, so it avoids all the compliance and privacy issues on platforms like Zoom and Google Meet.
This is a slightly different angle on video for customer support, but an interesting use case nonetheless. Session replay technology allows companies to record actual user sessions in their apps and watch them back to see bugs, errors and user behavior in context.
It is truly one of the best ways for customer support, product and success teams to monitor user sessions on an ongoing basis and reach out to them when they notice an issue — even before the user reaches out themselves. We think one of the scariest statistics in all of customer support is the fact that, out of every 26 users that are experiencing problems in your app, only 1 will get in touch with your support team for help. The rest won’t even do that before churning. So being on the lookout for issues can be hugely beneficial in identifying those users and issues that would ordinarily slip through the cracks.
The pros of using video in customer support
We’ve touched on some of this briefly in this article, but in the interest of corralling things under one heading, here are all the benefits of using video in customer support:
Automation is great, but customers still value face-to-face time with a brand and want to feel like their problems aren’t just being met with one-size-fits-all solutions.
Cobrowsing and session replays can go a long way towards creating personalized experiences that speak directly to a user’s issues (because agents already know exactly what they are by reviewing user sessions) and solve things quickly and efficiently (because agents can initiate a cobrowsing call and take control of a user’s screen when needed to solve complex problems).
As we’ve already noted, horrifyingly, only 4% of customers who are experiencing issues will actually reach out to support to solve them. The other 96%? They’ll just churn.
So it’s pretty clear that reactive support – where agents wait for users to write in with issues before solving them — is very inadequate and costs businesses a lot of money as a result of customer churn.
Video can help. By implementing a session replays solution and continually monitoring sessions, agents can keep on the lookout for user issues and bugs to immediately reach out and solve problems. Some session replay tools (like ours!) automatically detect signs of user frustration like rage clicks and notify you, so you know exactly who you need to reach out to.
And once you’ve identified the users that need a little extra attention, you can escalate to a cobrowsing call to solve the problem.
The cons of using video in customer support
Like most everything else, there are a few drawbacks to implementing video in customer support.
A caveat: We strongly believe that the pros outweigh the cons — especially if video is thoughtfully incorporated as one part of a multi-channel support strategy.
Slow internet speeds
Video consumes a lot of bandwidth, so it’s difficult to deliver reliable video customer support to people who don’t have high-speed internet or lack a reliable internet connection. The experience of being on a video call only for it to freeze or drop is not a pleasant one, so it’s important to give your customers other ways of solving issues — like a comprehensive help center with text-based help articles.
Some customers might just prefer the anonymity and convenience of chat or email over video, so it’s important for any good customer support strategy to be multi-channel. Not everyone likes to receive customer support in the same way, so definitely give your customers options!
Wrapping things up
There’s very little doubt that video is increasingly how people consume content and gain knowledge about the world, so there’s no reason for the customer support industry to miss out on the many benefits a thoughtful video support strategy can deliver.
By making it possible to personalize experiences and offer proactive support in a way that is scalable, companies like Fullview are making it even easier for companies to take that leap.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can implement video in your CX setup, take our interactive product tour or sign up today.