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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Wade Radcliffe and Vikas Bhambri to learn about visual integration to enhance the customer experience and how it boosts agent efforts. Listen to the full episode to learn more.
A New Communication Channel
Wade Radcliffe was the Director of Business Development at Streem, a company that offers a visual layer to the world of CX, and understands the need to integrate multiple channel communication. Many leaders are adopting channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, chat and direct messaging. To this list, leaders should consider adding a visual element to further the communication channels and open the possibilities for cost and time savings. Visual communication saves time because it allows agents to directly help customers by displaying the resolution, rather than having to explain in great detail how to accomplish a task or fix an issue. According to Wade, customer calls that take around 15-20 minutes can be shortened to five minute conversations with an added visual element. Wade portrays, “So you’re seeing what you’re seeing and the agent is seeing what you’re seeing as well, and now they can draw on your screen and kind of guide you around resolving an issue.” This element to channel communication is especially helpful when customers and agents start talking in depth with copious amounts of detail, painting a picture for the other to understand them. When one starts to paint with their words, that’s when visual communication should come into play.
Why Leaders Shouldn’t be Hesitant to Adopt Video
Some agents and leaders are hesitant to adopt video as a means of communication for a multitude of reasons. Some stemming from security and how to navigate access to customer’s smartphones with ease of mind. To this, Wade reassures that much of video communication apps and software have customizable security features in place to protect both the user and the company. Another reason some might be skeptical of the benefits to visual CX is agents would rather not be face-to-face with customers when in difficult situations. Wade explains the importance of personal connection and how human-to-human interaction can actually be valuable to customer conversations. “Let’s say that we’re looking at your living room and talking about furniture and we’ve spent about 15 to 20 minutes so far talking about who you are and what you’re about. At some point, you can get that human connectedness by applying some two-way video.” To make two-way video work properly, Wade suggests using an app or sending a text message with a link directly to the customer’s smartphone, which when opened, will allow the agent to see through the smartphone’s camera. Many businesses could benefit from this form of CX and advance their team’s efforts.
Opportunities Attached to Visual Platform Adoption
The opportunities for visual CX are endless. This method can be applied to a slew of businesses and field expertise, which in turn will save companies time and money downstream. For example, Vikas evaluates a situation in which a blinds company could benefit from agent visual services and avoid droves of returns by helping customers measure their window spaces correctly over video. Another example used in the episode is discussed where a customer has the ability to film the outside of their house so a field technician knows what tools and equipment to bring (such as a ladder with the appropriate height) that will fit the demands and resolve the issues most effectively. In closing, Wade urges leadership to give video tools a try and to slowly integrate visualization into CX. “Like a lot of things in the contact center world, you kind of want to move your channel or have your channels work for you, as opposed to you trying to make a certain channel work perfectly.” Opportunities for customer success are boundless as leaders integrate video channels, making the future of CX more accessible to all who have mobile devices with the camera feature.
To learn more about Wade’s work at Streem and how to integrate video channels, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
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Full Episode Transcript:
Is Video the Future of Customer Service? | Wade Radcliffe
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right, you guys ready for the fight? Here we go. We’re going to be talking on the importance of a visual context in the customer service, customer experience, customer support. And to do that, we brought on two special people. We got Vikas Bhambri from Kustomer and Wade Radcliffe over at Streem. Wade, why don’t you take just a second and introduce yourself?
Wade Radcliffe: (00:31)
Hey, thanks for having me on today. So about 20, 25 years in the contact center world, and I’m excited about now that we’ve got everybody with smartphones in their pockets, adding a visual layer to contact center integration interactions when it makes sense. So we’re here to help people accomplish that.
Gabe Larsen: (00:48)
Love it. Glad you’re here. Vikas?
Vikas Bhambri: (00:49)
Vikas Bhambri, Gabe’s partner in crime here at Kustomer. Responsible for Sales and CX and Wade and I have been around the contact center for similar amount of time. I’m not at 25 years yet, but just crossed the 20 year mark. So a lot has changed and I’m super excited to talk about the visualization in the contact center. I think it’s been a long time coming.
Gabe Larsen: (01:11)
And I’m Gabe Larsen. I am one year in the contact center space, so very excited to have you.
Vikas Bhambri: (01:17)
This is Gabe’s unique way of kind of short-cutting his learning process, getting people like Wade on and just like an abridged MBA.
Gabe Larsen: (01:29)
It is, man. That’s, that is the cheat code. And it’s fun because I can tell that I have a reason to be kind of a punk. So Wade, we want to start off high level and say, I don’t know if we agree. I don’t know if I agree with you. I mean, why go visual? It’s, we have so many good channels right now. Phone. We have email. I mean, that’s been working for a long time. Why do we need to kind of open up the kimono and introduce a visual tools ideas into the customer service process? Start big picture for us, give us the watch.
Wade Radcliffe: (01:58)
Sure thing. So, I mean, I guess the first thing to know is that you don’t apply a visual to every business workflow, right? So there are times where, let’s take resetting a password, for example. It’d be crazy to have a visual layer for that, but if you have what is typically a 20 minute call to have somebody work through fixing their ice maker, for example, or walking them through their house to quote some services, visual can take that 15 to 20 minute call and bring it down to just five minutes. So we’re not out here saying it’s the perfect tool for every job. We’re just saying that wherever you have to paint a picture with your words or using voice only, it’s a challenge.
Gabe Larsen: (02:42)
Vikas, I mean, you’re out and about. Give us your kind of big picture thought on just digitalization in the customer service world.
Vikas Bhambri: (02:48)
Sure. I’ve seen customers explore it, dabble in it, over the last, I would say five to seven years in particular, but I haven’t seen them, you go back to them six months later. “So how did that project go?” “Oh, we wound it down,” right? A lot of it is, and I think to Wade’s point, and maybe Wade, you can touch on this, is kind of the success rate. The other challenge, Wade, historically was also that the customer was on so many different platforms that it was hard for a company to say, “Okay, I’m going to adopt a technology and it’s going to work for my,” just as a quick example, “iPhone user and an Android user, and if somebody is on their iPad,” right? And so that became a challenge. So how have things progressed, obviously in the last few years?
Gabe Larsen: (03:38)
I love that.
Wade Radcliffe: (03:40)
A lot to unpack there. So we’ll start with the fact that we’re not out there pitching that you should do visual chat for this. So what we found is that one-way video and two-way audio works best typically, because you’re both looking at the same thing. You’re co-browsing the environment, if you will. You have a shared experience. And because if something’s not working with the system that I just bought, I don’t want you to see me with my cranky face on. And the agent doesn’t necessarily want to have people see them, plus on a typical video conference call, if I’m seeing myself, I’m looking at me and not other people, right? So we’re not focusing on the issue at hand. So one-way video is a great way to accomplish resolving an issue. Second thing is on the fact that before we had some ubiquity and standards, we had to be on a certain platform and that was a challenge. Now that more and more people have a smartphone, typically an iOS or Android, 90 to 95% of the time, it’s a lot easier. Plus we can go through the mobile browser, as opposed to having to download an app. So these, with HTML5 and the extra bandwidth that people have these days, you can pull off a visual layer when it makes sense, a lot more easily.
Vikas Bhambri: (04:59)
So Wade, I think this is interesting because I think clients, when I was talking to them about this, because there’s nobody, there’s no playbook, right? It’s not like, to your point, voice or chat that’s been around for years. And everybody, I think they were kind of dabbling in different things. I even had one customer that was like, “Well, I’m going to integrate Zoom into my experience.” And automatically, I was thinking about, as you said, the customer showing their face and does a customer want to show their face in this kind of interaction? And then the agent. There’s actually pushback from the agents going, “I don’t want to show my face to that, look, I mean, I –
Gabe Larsen: (05:34)
“We didn’t get ready in the morning.”
Wade Radcliffe: (05:36)
Or, “I may want to roll my eyes.”
Vikas Bhambri: (05:39)
Right. Right. Or yeah, exactly. “I want to show my expressions of frustration, like pull my hair out or something like that.” So it’s interesting. You guys have actually changed the conversation. I’m almost thinking about it like, maybe I, am I thinking about this the right way where I’m on my phone and I’m just showing what I’m seeing, not myself and I’m not necessarily seeing the other person?
Wade Radcliffe: (06:00)
Exactly. So you’re seeing what you’re seeing and the agent is seeing what you’re seeing as well, and now they can draw on your screen and kind of guide you around resolving an issue.
Gabe Larsen: (06:11)
Got it. So do you not recommend that, I gotta, do you not recommend the kind of the face-to-face or is there a time and place where someone who would actually show their face from a customer view and the agent would show their face or is that, to Vikas’s point, nobody wants to do that actually?
Wade Radcliffe: (06:25)
There’s a time and a place for it. Let’s say that we’re looking at your living room and talking about furniture and we’ve spent about 15 to 20 minutes so far talking about who you are and what you’re about. At some point, you can get that human connectedness by applying some two-way video for awhile. So, “I’ve seen your space, now let’s have a face-to-face conversation about how we go about ordering furniture,” for example. So it’s nice, like a lot of things in the contact center world, you kind of want to move your channel or have your channels work for you, as opposed to you trying to make a certain channel work perfectly.
Vikas Bhambri: (07:01)
Wade, I don’t know if you’ve encountered this, but I tell you one use case that I think was so brilliant was I had a customer who was in the blinds business. And if you don’t know how many people botch the measurement of their blinds, you would be shocked Gabe. Especially a guy like me who was like the anti-DIY guy. So to measure out end to end, how much blind with you need, and length I can handle, but width is where most people mess up. And so what they were finding was the number of orders that they were having to go through. So to your point Wade, like video would have been great for them to actually say, “Show me how you’re measuring this.” Like, you know what I mean? “Let me walk you through, are you measuring from end to end? Are you going from window to window or what it is?” So that’s the one that I personally –
Wade Radcliffe: (08:00)
Yeah, it’s a perfect match and yeah. Whether or not you’re inside the window casing or outside the window casing, those are very important things to know. And what we like to see is that with that visual layer, not only are you saving some time in that particular session, but you’re saving some downstream time as well. You’re not having to send somebody out, which costs you a few hundred bucks every time you do it, or you’re not dealing with a return because they bought it a little bit too long and a little bit too short. So if you can save some of those downstream actions, such as truck rolls or returns, the visual layer has really paid for itself.
Gabe Larsen: (08:36)
You know, it’s funny, Oh go ahead, Vikas.
Vikas Bhambri: (08:40)
So am I oversimplifying this to think that in anywhere that I think of a world where there’s a field service technician, it sounds to me like, I’m not trying to say you’re going to switch out the field service technician, but you guys could be a, at least a level one, right? Like, “Let me try to walk you through doing it yourself before I send out a technician.” And then you mentioned, I think another use case you mentioned was kind of the home styling or interior design element, which kind of ties into the blinds example I gave. Are there other industries that are using this kind of technology? Maybe it doesn’t come to mind immediately and you’re like, share that with the audience.
Wade Radcliffe: (09:20)
Sure. So anybody that does consumer goods that might have a little bit of complexity to them are very good. Utilities are very strong because we can take some pictures of the outside of someone’s home or building and then when we send that field technician, they know exactly what they’re getting into. They know what tools they have to bring. They know they have to bring a 12 foot ladder, those kinds of things, and they have an approach into that home. So there’s, utilities are big. Insurance companies. Sometimes refinances and home appraisals. It’s nice to walk a property and we can grab GPS, make sure we’re talking about the property we’re appraising, as opposed to, their rich aunt’s or uncle’s house. And if you’ve got a loan to value of maybe 20, 30, 40%, you don’t necessarily need to do an in-depth appraisal because there’s so much equity in that home. So there’s lots of ways that you can leverage –
Vikas Bhambri: (10:13)
It’s interesting. I just, oh, go ahead, Gabe. Sorry.
Gabe Larsen: (10:15)
Yeah. Check this one out, Wade. I don’t know if you can see that on the screen, but –
Wade Radcliffe: (10:18)
Gabe Larsen: (10:20)
Customers, by Fatema, you’ve got some car features, so service centers, that’s kind of different. Sounds like they’re exploring that. Fatema joins us from Dubai. I think we’re going –
Vikas Bhambri: (10:32)
One of the things we were thinking about was, my wife didn’t want to go to the dealership, is man, if you had a person in the dealership who could walk you through the features, functions, obviously you could do everything, but test drive the car, using a technology like this, or as you were saying, realtors. We just, I think our last show, Gabe, we had a guest who was moving from San Francisco to Denver and he said he bought the house sight unseen, but imagine a realtor walking you through a home in Denver. So maybe other use cases for this type of technology.
Wade Radcliffe: (11:06)
Yeah. I want to stick with your dealership example for a moment. So let’s say that they’ve actually bought the car and they’re at home and they’re trying to get their Apple CarPlay to work and they’re getting frustrated. They don’t want to spend two hours of their day going to the dealership or interacting with people face-to-face. This would allow them to walk them through it. They’ve learned something. They’re empowered. And you get the issue resolved right then and there without tying up that bit of time on their dealership too.
Vikas Bhambri: (11:36)
I’m getting more and more excited.
Gabe Larsen: (11:36)
Yeah, I’m seeing Vikas’s eyes get big. I’m interested in –
Vikas Bhambri: (11:41)
When we started the show, it’s been a long time coming. And I think the challenges, as Wade alluded to, were the technology limitations, we didn’t have ubiquitous device where you could just say, “Here’s the standard,” right? We only have to support, and now we only have to really support two main devices, no offense to Microsoft, but it’s Apple and Android, right? You don’t have to worry about all these 15 different environments. And then I think what Wade’s doing at Streem is writing the playbook by how you do this. Because like I said before, so many people were confused as like, “Well, do I do this? Do I show the agent? Don’t I show the agent? Do I see the customer? Is a customer going to want to download software?” That was another big issue in the past. We asked them to download something, so that seems to be no longer an issue. So the hurdles are moving and now we can really have some fun with the use cases.
Wade Radcliffe: (12:34)
Gabe Larsen: (12:36)
That, Wade, I want to get to the playbook, but do you have a quick comment on this one from Bruce? I’ve seen Zoom tends to perform better via app versus smartphone. Are you seeing the same?
Wade Radcliffe: (12:45)
Yeah. So when you’re actually using the mobile app, you’re actually, can get inside some of the goodies of the device. So for example, you got a gyroscope, an accelerometer inside that device. So if I’m moving it around, I can get an idea of depth and I can take measurements and it’s a little bit stickier, and those kinds of things. Yeah. It’s getting pretty exciting. And going through the browser via HTML5, you can’t necessarily pull all that off. So yeah, definitely the app’s a little cleaner, if you want to do some rural, funky stuff. If you’re just wanting to see what the person can see and co-browse their environment and draw on the screen, then typically you don’t need an app to do that.
Gabe Larsen: (13:21)
So do you, Wade, this playbook idea, I mean, we’ve hit some of the common hurdles, I think Vikas, and you’ve seen over the years in the industry, but if you were coaching somebody now to start this journey, how do I start to think about visual? Is that, I mean, I’ve got to identify the use cases. I need to know, I mean, you’ve talked about it a little bit, any five step process and best practices as people start to take this journey, you’d recommend?
Wade Radcliffe: (13:43)
If I were to go into a contact center, I’d say, “What calls are long and frustrating on average, if you type them?” And then once you’ve typed those, you can start to listen in on them and say, “Where are people getting hung up?” I said, it’s very much like it was prior to video. And you just, you prioritize, you run your priority charts, you pull out where your stickies and points are. And then to my surprise, video is so much easier to implement than I thought. I thought it was to be a big, complex thing and tough to do, but we’re actually able to do integrations, including integrations with customer, within an hour and you can trial it and see how it works and kind of get your folks the right feel for it. Because there, I’m trying to think of how best to put it, but there are ways that you can communicate, “Hey, are you on a smartphone? Hey, can I see through your camera?” that the agents get comfortable with to allow for a smoother engagement.
Vikas Bhambri: (14:42)
So to that point, what does the customer engagement look like? So I’m on the phone. Obviously I have to be on my smartphone with the contact center. I’m speaking to the agent and the agent says, “Hey, know what? It’d be super cool if you could just show me what you’re looking at,” and do they send, SMS me a link that I hit the link and then it invokes it? Talk to me a little bit about the customer side of that experience.
Wade Radcliffe: (15:08)
So a call comes in, they’re having a discussion. Sometimes you have a power user that knows exactly what they want, and they got a part, they need a replacement. You’re not going to deal with that, but you have someone saying, “My barbecue is not lighting.” I can say, “Well, what kind of model do you have?” “I don’t know. It’s a black one and it’s a little roundish.” So they’d say, “Hey, are you on a smartphone?” Yeah, most likely, yes. “Hey, would you mind if I looked through your camera so we can see the same thing?” And then once they do that, they push a button from their agent desktop, and then that sends a text message and they tap on that link on the text message, and then they have to say, “Accept the privacy terms saying yeah, I can look through your camera for the next five minutes.” And then you’re off and running and you have that voice call still in place. So you’re never really abandoning the voice call. You just add that visual layer and they go, “Oh, you’ve got a XY 2000. This is a common problem. Let’s go down here and point to where do you want to” –
Gabe Larsen: (16:04)
Wow, I love it.
Vikas Bhambri: (16:04)
Very cool. How do you see working with folks that maybe are having a digital or text-based conversation, so chat or SMS with an agent, or is it primarily, is the use case voice?
Wade Radcliffe: (16:16)
And that does a couple, add something nice to it. So yes, absolutely. Chat’s a perfect example. You’re doing a chat and say, “Hey, are you on a smart phone? Let’s tap this link.” Or you can send them a code if they’re on something else and they can go to a webpage. But yeah, and what’s neat about that is that now we can get the voice through Streem as well. So if you wanted to do some analytics and do some crunching on what’s being said, and how it’s being said, some transcription, you can actually run the voice and the video through, initiated from a chat.
Vikas Bhambri: (16:43)
Wow. Super cool.
Wade Radcliffe: (16:46)
Or email or anything that’s text-based.
Gabe Larsen: (16:49)
Well, I love the examples, Wade. Is there another example? I mean, you’ve talked more about the kind of the consumer products, any other interesting stories or examples to kind of bring to light where you’ve seen this be very effective, again, maybe in a different industry that you could share?
Wade Radcliffe: (17:03)
Sure thing. Well we, one of our use cases is pretty strong as pro-to-pro conversation. So you’ll send a novice out in the field, or you’ve got a contracting, a contractor working for you. We have an airline that uses this to support their technicians. So technicians can know everything about every plane in a fleet. So they can actually call a lifeline if you will, and go back to the pro and their pro can walk them through a complex resolution.
Gabe Larsen: (17:31)
Got it. Got it. And do you find, I mean, as people implement your solution or visualization tools, where do they then get hung up? I mean, you’ve made it sound too easy, no offence, but there’s gotta be a couple holes somewhere. Where do people often be like, “Oh, shoot. I wish I would’ve thought,” or is it really as easy as you’re saying it is? I don’t mean to contradict you there, but it sounds pretty darn easy. Is there some place, is there some gotchas that bigger companies run into? Security? Something like that, that you need to be thinking about?
Wade Radcliffe: (18:01)
Well, most of the providers out there offer some pretty customizable security features. So you can, don’t have to store it here with us. You can store it on your own systems that got APIs, where you can really operate at atomic level to get rid of some of some things where you don’t have the feature that you need. The biggest issues that we see sometimes are like, someone’s screen lock is on and they want to turn it to the left. And then you’re looking sideways, just small things that people have, like when you’re walking your father-in-law or mother-in-law through an issue with their smartphone. So sometimes those are somewhat challenging to work through, but 80% of the time to 90% of the time based on your customer demographic, it’s quite smooth.
Gabe Larsen: (18:46)
Got it. All right. Well, Vikas –
Wade Radcliffe: (18:46)
Which helps, you can’t run this on dial-up.
Vikas Bhambri: (18:50)
Wade, are you seeing some of the traditional retailers, like the brick and mortar, adopt this? And I’m just thinking about now I’m in a store. I’m in, maybe a DIY store, like a Lowe’s or something like that, or I’m in a sporting goods store, and I’ve got a question about a golf club, or a grip or whatever it is, rather than having somebody, a lot of times, no offense, people on the floor no longer really know what they’re talking about. I can have like a centralized group that actually knows what they’re talking about.
Wade Radcliffe: (19:24)
Vikas Bhambri: (19:24)
Are you seeing people adapt this to where customers in store can actually use this technology?
Wade Radcliffe: (19:31)
Absolutely. And I’m glad you brought up Lowe’s because we have a press release out with them. They’re incorporating what we do.
Vikas Bhambri: (19:37)
That was not teed up. I just want the audience to know I am not a shill. I did not get a check in the mail, though I gladly accept them, but I did not know that. That’s fantastic.
Wade Radcliffe: (19:48)
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So retailers do, first, they’re going to need to differentiate what they do, right? And Lowe’s is a great example where someone’s walking the floor. They’ve got an issue and this is not being done right now, but it’s a great idea, just to have a QR code, like if a supplier wants to put a QR code up in their, where their products are displayed, I could click on that and we can kick off a video session. It can kind of walk through some how to use a particular tool or in those kinds of things. So that’s a good idea. Plus, a lot of retailers, we see are doing actually some warranty work or first level warranty work for the OEMs. And this allows them to pull off some of that, without having to roll a truck, I think Lowe’s would have to go out and fix a dishwasher, for example. Wouldn’t it be great if they could do it over the phone with video?
Gabe Larsen: (20:39)
Yeah. Well, I’m sold. I’m sold. I think we could be using the video, more visualizations in CX. I didn’t think you’d be able to budge me over the edge, Wade, but congratulations. Closing comments, as we kind of wrap here. Wade, why don’t we start with you and then, Vikas, we’ll end with you. Thinking about, we talked about a lot, Wade, any things you’d leave for the audience as kind of recommendations or leave behinds?
Wade Radcliffe: (21:04)
Give it a whirl, give it a shot. Start small and see what you can pull off using visual. And thank you so much, Gabe and Vikas. I really appreciate the time to hang out with you guys and talk about what we’re up to in the world.
Gabe Larsen: (21:19)
Absolutely. Vikas, you convinced or you still doubter? I know you were a doubter to start but –
Vikas Bhambri: (21:24)
Wade, I’m excited. You can see the smile on my face. I was a doubter just because I’ve seen the challenges in the past, right? And like I said, sometimes being a dinosaur, but I would say to the practitioners out there who are listening, they’re probably like, “Oh no. They just introduced another channel,” right? “I just got my arms around Twitter or WhatsApp or Facebook messenger and now these guys and my boss is probably listening.” And he’s like, “We got to do video.” But to Wade’s point, dip in with the appropriate use case. Start out with those items that are most challenging your contact center agents today. Those long conversations, the ones that are taking four X your normal conversation, dig into those. See if video can be a solution to what your, the customer is actually trying to solve for. And I love how Wade said, if they’re starting to paint with words, let’s use the visual. And I think that’s a great way to tackle some very specific use cases to get your foot in the door.
Gabe Larsen: (22:30)
Awesome. Awesome. Well, Wade, thanks for joining again, fun talk track. I think you’re hitting on something that, yeah, to Vikas’s point, has been maybe around a little while, but it’s taken some leaps and strides and it’s starting to make some noise, I think, in the right places. So kudos to you and the Streem team. Vikas, as always, thanks for joining and for the audience, have a fantastic day.
Wade Radcliffe: (22:48)
Exit Voice: (22:54)
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