In the wake of the pandemic making customer relationships almost universally digital, it felt like a logical juncture to take stock of where we are with adoption of various channels (particularly video) and strategies in the contact center. Together with Enterprise Connect and leading CX and contact center analyst firm Metrigy, Lifesize presented a webinar to benchmark that change and progress.

Robin Gareiss, CEO and principal analyst at Metrigy, brought the data to back up trends occurring in the customer experience and contact center space, having surveyed 700 companies (mostly of enterprise size) from 12 countries and 23 different vertical industries. Metrigy’s research revealed how organizations are spending on transformational CX technology, handling work-from-home contact center agents, which channels they have come to favor in customer service, if and how they incorporate video into their channel mix and whether they’ve integrated their UC and contact center solutions. Here are just a few key takeaways from the research and our “How Video Creates the Human-Centric Contact Center” webinar:

CX transformation continues unabated

Incredibly, nearly 65 percent of all companies surveyed have a CX transformation project underway or planned for this year, in spite of the continued business challenges brought on by the pandemic.

A significant portion of those transformation projects involve introducing or evolving towards a true omnichannel approach or even a channelless experience. While voice continues to be the overarching channel supported by nearly 80 percent of respondents – with email close behind – use of mobile chat grew almost 43 percent year-over-year and use of video jumped around 16 percent over that same period, showing that organizations are readily diversifying their channel mix and the ways they actively communicate with customers. In fact, whereas companies averaged support for five channels in 2019, that number increased to closer to seven channels in 2020.

WFH agents serve as the catalysts for change

With 70 percent of companies currently accommodating contact center agents who are working from home and solidified plans from nearly 57 percent to keep agents at home at least part-time after the pandemic subsides, the playing field has clearly shifted. That latter figure is also likely due to rise as some undecided companies (roughly 36 percent) come to terms with their future agent working models, according to Gareiss.

With that long-term shift favoring remote and hybrid work, video is becoming more critical internally as a 1:1 management tool for supervisors and agents, a way for contact center leaders to monitor customer interactions, and an avenue for team collaboration with non-agent employees or subject matter experts on key customers’ issues. To reference the data again, two-thirds of respondents see video as “vital” to managing remote workers.

Video makes customer service more human and effective

As setup for the all-important “why video in customer service” argument, Gareiss called out three main tailwinds:

  1. Customers’ comfort level with video has risen dramatically.
  2. Agents can get to quicker resolution of customer issues through using live visuals and face-to-face interaction.
  3. Video allows for natural, rather than AI-based, sentiment analysis by agents.

And when video is implemented in customer interactions to capitalize on those tailwinds, the boost to business success metrics is inarguable. When companies use video as a channel, revenue, customer ratings and agent efficiency all increase drastically as compared to companies opting out of using video. Most accentuated among those benefits is revenue growth, which 59 percent of respondents using video reported.

Although reduction of operational costs has not yet been recorded as an effect of video, Gareiss is “expecting that we will start seeing some operational cost decreases simply because [companies] will be able to answer more calls more quickly, and we’ll start seeing this with the number of agents that are needed as well. Right now, we see companies investing in the technology.”

Whether it’s telemedicine appointments for virtual healthcare, application support in financial services, installation and repair guidance in retail or advisory conversations for professional services like accounting, those investments in video make customer service interactions in the contact center more human, trustworthy, direct, engaging, efficient and effective.

Pulling it all together

Gareiss wrapped up with points on integrating contact center and UC applications as well as artificial intelligence, security and quality of service in the context of video. She also shared several sound recommendations before handing the baton off to me to discuss how Lifesize CxEngage leads the market in incorporating video into cloud contact centers. In a poll at the outset of my presentation, 84 percent of our webinar attendees acknowledged that their contact center software is not video enabled today.

While that’s not at all surprising, Gareiss had the following parting words for that vast majority:

“If you’re not using video at all, it is definitely time to add it. I’m going to be bullish on this…I think you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage if you’re not. Looking at how quickly is growing, looking at the success of companies that are using it and looking at what people want these days…that option should be available to them when it’s appropriate. I think it’s really something you should be looking at.”

Robin Gareiss, CEO and principal analyst, Metrigy