Examine the Benefits and Disadvantages of Video Calling
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
For years, some call center managers have looked forward to having video capability in their call centers. Others weren’t so open to video calls. And most agents have opposed it as well.
Yet the past few years have prepared us, even conditioned us, to participate in video communication.
If you don’t already have video in your call center or are moving in that direction, now might be the right time to explore it more seriously.
The Benefits of Video
There are three components to our communication: words, vocal, and nonverbal. The words we use comprise only 7 percent of our communication. Our tone of voice and inflection account for another 38 percent. The remaining 55 percent is nonverbal; it’s our body language.
In a typical call center, agents can only use words and vocal components to communicate with callers. This totals 45 percent, not being able to tap into the remaining 55 percent nonverbal component.
Video calls add this nonverbal component into the mix, allowing for all 100 percent of communication to occur. The result is enhanced interaction, more effective information exchange, and easier rapport building. These combine to improve customer service, which results in happier callers, less miscommunication, and fewer callbacks.
An added benefit in the healthcare industry is the ability to see patients online, which can be a huge benefit, especially in telephone triage.
The Disadvantages of Video
Despite all the upsides to video calls, there are some downsides as well.
Employees opt for call center work for assorted reasons. A common one is that they want to avoid in-person interaction with the public. This may be due to appearance, low self-confidence, or social anxiety. They feel safe and competent over the telephone, whereas they would struggle with in-person scenarios. Adding video to the call center removes that safety net.
Other agents may feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, not have a personality that works with video, or lack the appearance needed for successful visual communication.
In all these situations, forcing an employee to accept video as part of their work may alienate them and cause them to resign.
Preparing for Video Calls
Here are some tips to successfully implement video in your call center:
- Make it optional for existing employees: Allow them to opt out if they’re uncomfortable. Don’t penalize them for this.
- Provide training: Though most employees know how to use a camera—from both a technical and practical standpoint—not all will. Offer instruction as needed.
- Review your dress code: Some call centers have a relaxed dress code or no dress code, reasoning that when you’re talking on the phone it doesn’t matter what you look like. This goes away with video. Make sure video agents look presentable and act professional.
- Update your documentation: Make sure your employee handbook, policies, and written expectations reflect video calling and the use of cameras in your call center.
- Hire new employees for video: Screen applicants and hire staff with the expectation of video.
With these elements in place, you’re ready to move forward with video calls in your contact center. May you enjoy the process and realize success.
Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Healthcare Call Center Essentials, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News covering the healthcare call center industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.