You probably already know that you should be making videos for YouTube and Facebook if you’re a small business owner. That’s right up there on the business basics list with having a web presence and an email list.
What may be less clear is how the live video trend affects your business. Live video probably already is taking place in your house if you are the parent of a teenager, but you would be forgiven if you considered it a business fad or an item for the wish list.
But you also would be wrong.
A fifth of the top 500 companies worldwide will be using video chat for customer-facing interactions by next year, according to Gartner research, and small businesses are also getting in on the act because live video is a boon for smaller firms and a source of differentiation.
Here are some of the benefits of live video for your biz, and why it is less optional than you think.
- Live Video Boosts Sales
The internet and online shopping have changed how customers interact with brands and select their purchases. Gone are opportunities in brick and mortar stores for potential buyers to ask questions from in-store sales reps and get any kind of buying support.
Instead, buyers now research their purchases online and get their questions answered there. Which is why live chat is popular; a ATG Global Consumer Trends study found that 90 percent of customers think live chat is helpful, and 63 percent said they were more likely to return to a website that offered live chat according to a survey by emarketer.com
Live video takes chat to the next level because businesses establish increased rapport with customers through that human connection, and helping your sales reps gauge subtle cues like voice inflection and body language during the call. This leads to increased sales and more organic ways to upsell potential customers. And with screen sharing functionality, your business also can see exactly what customers are considering.
- Customer Satisfaction Improves with Face-to-Face Support
A second reason that live video is important is because it is a boon for customer service.
While much is made about self-service support and its usefulness for small businesses, a third of all customer service interactions still require a live agent, according to Gartner.
Live video chat helps these support interactions progress more smoothly because video allows for show-and-tell support. A picture says a thousand words, and the ability to see a customer’s issues with a product or demonstrate site navigation or how to use a product is huge for customer service effectiveness.
That could be why customers want it, too; more than a third of consumers say they would like video chat with their customer support, according to customer service firm, Talkdesk.
- Reduced Costs
Live video typically can save small businesses money in two key ways. First, there are the customer-facing savings from video chat. Second, there are internal cost savings from reduced travel expenses.
Let’s talk about the customer-facing cost savings first.
First call resolution is a big key metric for customer service effectiveness, and with good reason: customers who don’t get their issues addressed the first time around will not only be unhappy, they also probably will call again and use more company time. This can be costly.
Live video helps cut down on this costly second interaction because agents can much more easily grasp the nature of questions when there is a video component and not just chat or voice. There also is customer body language that agents can use for assessing issue resolution.
There also are savings from reduced travel costs. Entrepreneurs and small business owners have long known that face time matters, but there’s always been the issue of travel costs and time that have limited their ability to visit key customers and partners. While video chat is not quite the same as meeting someone in person, it nonetheless helps a business reap most of the benefits and at significantly lower costs. Once you try video meetings, you’ll be hooked.
- Improved Collaboration and Employee Training
One of the best things to happen to small businesses lately is the emergence of easy contract workers. While contractors have always been a boon for growing businesses, it now is easy to locate and hire a distributed workforce made up almost entirely of specialized contract workers who provide their services on an on-demand basis.
Video chat becomes an important tool in this new employment landscape, enabling collaboration and connection among these part-time, distributed workers. With live video, workers based in various locations can build a sense of camaraderie and share ideas much in the way that employees used to do when they would stick their head in someone else’s cubicle.
Further, live video chat also helps with training. Before video chat, workers had to learn business processes and best practices by trial and error. With video chat, workers can now easily connect with more seasoned employees for quick questions. Video chat changes the work culture, and for the better.
Finally, live video chat helps your business stand out in a crowded world oversaturated with marketing messages and similar products. While a fifth of global businesses might be using video chat next year, that still means that live video helps your business stand out today. This is especially true for small businesses, where live video often is less used.
The human element is more important than ever for business, and offering live video support both for pre- and post-sales can help your business stand out pretty quickly.
It also helps your unique brand stand out, because the personality of you and your team is much more apparent on live video. The Customer Care Institute found that only three percent of online shoppers remember text three days after seeing it, but 95 percent remember video content. That’s huge.
Choose Your Live Video Solution Wisely, Though
All that said, don’t cobble together consumer technologies if you’re planning on using live video for your business. While solutions such as Skype and Zoom work much of the time, they can and do suffer from quality issues periodically. This is not a problem when your daughter is talking with friends online, but it makes a big difference if you’re using live video for a sales pitch or to keep a customer happy. As business owners know, using pro tools for business is a smart move.
This is definitely the case for live video. You want a live video platform that both embeds easily on your web site and/or app (unlike Skype or Facebook Live), and one with quality-of-service guarantees so it is business-ready.
“Quality of experience is key for effective video chat,” says Tony Zhao, founder of video chat firm, Agora.io. “If video gets pixelated or you lose audio, even for a few seconds, that’s going to reflect very poorly on a business. Video chat is important for businesses, and they should treat it with respect by using the right tools.”
Agora.io is one such option; the company makes video chat easy to embed on websites or apps, and it monitors video traffic conditions in real-time and reroutes it when necessary so video and audio quality are always smooth.
So think beyond YouTube when it comes to video, and start taking advantage of live video chat. But make sure you use the right video chat solution, too. Consumer- and business-grade video chat is not the same.