How to make video a customer service star for your firmby
Today, customers don't just buy a product, they buy an experience. And if that experience doesn't immediately present itself to the user, then the sales process must extend seamlessly beyond the initial purchase, with help, advice and support offered in order to build customer satisfaction throughout the use cycle. Ultimately, this will ensure that customers come back to you when it is time for upgrade, replacement or renewal.
This kind of service has the potential to be costly and, in order to make sure that it does not eat into margins or push up the purchase price, it's important to have the right processes, technology and expertise in place. In this article, I'd like to offer a few suggestions on how sales, marketing or customer service teams might begin to do this using video technology.
In many cases, where consumer technologies or services offer very complex feature sets, video is by far the easiest way to demonstrate how customers can get the most out of their purchases. Furthermore, when a product or service has an appreciable learning curve, video can provide an invaluable opportunity for sales teams to convey some of their own enthusiasm to their customers, and to make sure that they persevere through the learning process until they get the most out of their purchase.
The great thing about content of this type is that it need not be costly or time consuming to produce. In fact, the opposite is often the case, and it can prove more cost effective than alternative formats that could be used to deliver such content. Video content for user engagement benefits unequivocally from an informal or relaxed style - most consumers will relate well to this, while a highly-produced, obviously corporate style may be alienating. However, it's important that video content appears professional, in the sense that it reflects the values and tone of the organisation.
The difference between a video that has been made simply, and one that has been made badly, is immediately apparent and the latter is likely to make do more harm than good. To that effect, I'd offer the following easy tips:
- Get the length right. More than 90 seconds of video requires more concentration than most customers are willing to give, and, if your goal is to build enthusiasm, then a lengthy film may do the opposite.
- Provide the right blend of product and people shots. A face is good, and adds a personal touch, but this should not come at the expense of showing important product action.
- Pay attention to lighting and sound quality. This doesn’t mean professional equipment, but it does mean a decent microphone and not, for example, talking to camera with the light behind you.
- Issue very clear guidelines on the brand voice. While a relaxed tone can be positive, it’s important to make sure that video doesn't become the wild west of the corporate communications estate.
- Make a strict rule that nothing is sent without first being watched. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than receiving a personalized video message - and then finding that the maker’s thumb obscures the crucial details!
Once the right processes and guidelines for creating content are in place, it must be properly distributed in order to maximise its positive impact. That requires a platform that will work across all mobile and desktop platforms, as well as being resistant to issues such as poor connectivity or bandwidth restrictions. Whether hosted or on-premise, it’s crucial that customers can access content on demand, with no delays, otherwise they will quickly lose interest.
The right platform can also make it possible to send tailored content to individual customers. While this might seem like the ultimate in blue-chip customer service, and therefore the domain of only luxury companies, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, with technology that can take care of the development, hosting and distribution process, tailored video content may take little more time than the equivalent customer service email, phone call or web chat interaction. In addition, it may prove far more useful to the customer, as it can include a physical demonstration, and may be replayed for future reference. While this clearly does require an enhanced level of training on the part of customer service representatives, the expenditure of cost and time should not be unreasonable, when compared to the potential results.
Once video is in use as a regular medium of customer service interaction, it becomes necessary to integrate such content into the organisation's CRM system. In fact, such content can actually help add valuable colour and detail to the records of individual customers held on the system. Making this integration a reality is as much down to the capabilities of the video management platform itself as the CRM. Given the cost of storage on the system itself, a link out to the video management platform is the best solution, but, for this to be effective, it must be able to make content available on a near-instant basis. If there are delays, then customer service staff will simply not bother to access the content, and the benefits of it will be lost.
Video is not the panacea that some technologists will claim (usually when trying to sell the latest all-singing, all dancing solution) but it can add a powerful extra dimension to customer service activities. While it is crucial that this is well-managed, and that the relevant personnel are well-trained, video content can go a long way towards securing the customer relationship, helping users to get the most out of their purchase, and making sure that they come back to make their next one.
Michael Nagle is CEO of Mhub.