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An e-commerce brand’s guide to video chat

illustration of a video chat window showing a person standing next to a bike

In today’s digital-first e-commerce landscape, there are always new technologies popping up to enhance the customer experience. Whether it’s a virtual try-on or a chatbot that knows your style preference, technology is at the forefront of a stellar customer experience.

Brands that have the right tech in place to enhance their customers’ buying journeys are the ones who create deeper client relationships and customer engagement along the way.

How? Investing in technology within the customer experience gives brands a competitive advantage: personal connection.

Wait, but we’re talking about technology – how does this relate to personalization?

Outside of the e-commerce space, we’ve seen how technology can connect us again and again in the past few years. When we couldn’t travel to see our families or go into an office full of co-workers, we found ways to adapt with video platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meets, and more.

In many ways, communication technology like live chat, video chat, social channels, and texting has allowed us to develop more personal relationships during a time when in-person interactions were on hold.

But even as we begin to find a ‘new normal’ of hybrid work environments and appointments, the technology that we relied so heavily on is still here… it’s just showing up in more innovative ways.

When it comes to online shopping, technology like video chat and virtual shopping does more than give associates the chance to see a customer’s facial expressions; it helps brands to revamp support digital channels and develop a unique customer journey while staying ahead of the competition.

What is video chat service in e-commerce?

Much like live chat via chatbots or messenger platforms, video chat is a channel of customer communications, typically used by customer support or sales teams to connect with prospective or current customers.

Similar to how we can FaceTime friends to say hi, ask questions, or even give quick tours, ecommerce video chat allows a brand’s audience to have a one-on-one conversation with a company rep from the comfort of their own home.

Ecommerce businesses can use video chat to resolve customer conflict with a product or experience, answer customer questions, or even screen-share to investigate an issue on the company site or application. Plus, for SaaS companies, it’s a great way to offer product demos along with a quick Q&A for potential customers.

What are the benefits of offering video chat support?

Video chat is a powerful asset for brands to include within their customer service strategy. Armed with an internet connection and a platform to make a call from, video chats promote human connection in what can otherwise be a very impersonal experience.

Customers want to connect with brands one-on-one 

If you haven’t begun developing a conversational marketing strategy, now’s your time to get started. With 24/7 access to social channels, direct messages, and immediate connections, customers expect a readily available dialogue with the brands they’re purchasing from.

Video chat provides a quicker resolution time

Instead of the tedious back-and-forth of an email thread, where instructions (and tone) can easily be misconstrued, video technology has the unique advantage of real-time interactions. This means a lower ART (average resolution time) as well as a higher chance for first contact resolution (FCT).

Video chat can help brands track and boost customer satisfaction

Video chat helps companies to develop and track an entirely new channel of communications. Whether discussing a problem or doing some virtual shopping after a video call, a brand can offer a quick survey to rate the call on a scale or add short-form text answers to better understand the customer feedback and help develop the call for future customers.

Enabling direct video calling allows brands to meet customers where they are 

Customer behaviors have changed drastically over the past few years, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time stay-at-home orders were implemented, 44% of US consumers around the world found themselves working from home during and after the pandemic, compared to just 17% before the pandemic. The results? Now, more than ever, customers are expecting brands to offer services that fit into their digital experience.

Video chat offers a more personalized experience

Human interaction leads the charge when it comes to video chat. Customers get to see another person’s face, hear their voice, and connect with them immediately, rather than having to wait for a message to send or an email to come through. Plus, e-commerce personalization plays a key role in customer retention and an overall better customer experience.

4 tips to best support customers with video chat:

1. Invest in the right video platform

A good customer experience is only attainable with the right tools. Even if your customer service team is the friendliest, most capable team in the world – they still won’t have satisfactory calls without the proper technology. Choosing the right video platform for your video calls will help deliver that seamless face-to-face interaction that customers are looking for, without as many error messages or slow loading times.

2. Train your video support CS team

Good customer service starts with a customer support team that has the right tools to address customer concerns. In addition to interpersonal skills, like being able to de-escalate an upset customer, your team should understand how to navigate video tools like screen sharing or making use of the chat within a video call. If the system you use had a training course, it should be mandatory that all representatives take it.

3. Make sure a technical support system is in place

How many times have meetings been delayed, or paused altogether, because of a faulty internet connection or underlying issues like microphone access not being granted? It’s unavoidable that your customers and your team will run into some sort of technical difficulties during a live video chat. While it isn’t totally avoidable, if there’s a system of communication (and a team on-hand for support), when issues do arise, they are likely to be solved in a more timely manner.

4. Include your video chat support link on your website and communications

If your customers don’t know that you offer video solutions, how will they ever take advantage of this support channel? It’s important to guide your customers into the best course of action when they’re researching your site. To do this, make sure to include links to your video chat along the buying journey. For example, you could include a CTA like “chat with a representative” on your product page or in email marketing to encourage more customers to try live video chat support.

3 brands who have done video chat right:

1. Lowe’s

a Lowe’s storefront with plants and riding lawnmowers

In 2020, Lowe’s developed their “Lowe’s for Pros JobSIGHT” video chat tool that allowed employees to meet with homeowners and clients via video call. To make things as smooth as possible, after a video consultation, Lowe’s employees could access the full video, audio, photos, and notes taken during the session.

2. American Express

a woman sitting at a table using her computer with an American Express card drawn around her head

American Express offers “eligible card members” access to live video chat with a customer care representative. The caveat? It’s only available via the Amex for iPad app – so not every customer will be able to participate.

3. Allbirds

screenshots of Allbirds’ video chat tool

Footwear brand Allbirds responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by connecting sales associates via video chat – encouraging the associates to act as personal shoppers to their customers. How? Responding to questions while physically modeling the shoes and demonstrating how they can be styled.

Should ecommerce businesses offer video chat support?

In short, yes – with the right resources and strategizing.

Video chat has the potential to boost online sales and customer loyalty when executed successfully. Without the right technology, training, and support in place, it can actually become one of your biggest pain points. Things like a spotty connection, nonintuitive platforms, and not enough customer support coverage can taint the video solution experience for online customers.

The verdict? Ultimately, it will be up to your brand to understand your audience and whether they’re looking for alternative ways of communicating. However, there’s nothing like the human touch and connection that comes from speaking with a customer face-to-face.

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