Video Essentials

How to Improve Customer Service with Online Video


Customers now demand interaction with brands using social media. It’s no longer enough for businesses to treat video as just content. Rather, video must be part of a customer service strategy.

A testimonial for that comes from the most famous customer service manager in the U.S., and possibly the world: Frank Eliason, Citi’s senior vice president of social and formerly the executive support manager at Comcast. Eliason is the author of the recently published book, @ Your Service.

In this exclusive interview, Eliason says online video is the present and future of customer service. Plus, he shares his favorite real-world examples for improving the customer experience using social video.

Why Social Video Is the Present and Future of Customer Service

The key to successful customer service is building relationships and trust, says Eliason. That starts with listening to customer needs and delivering answers.

“Video has an amazing way of helping build that trust,” Eliason says.

Here are two big ways online video builds trust with customers:

  • Video captures the conversation. “The challenge in social is about conversations, very human conversations. How do you have a conversation with a brand? We recognized that people prefer conversations with people,” says Eliason.
  • Video humanizes the experience. “Customers react more positively when they can see a human reaction,” such as from a customer support specialist. Eliason says that when customers are allowed to see and hear an individual who is there to serve them, “it feels more real, and not scripted.”

“Video is going to be the next major frontier for customer service,” says Eliason. “We are already seeing it in a one-to-many structure, such as online help videos that companies post. That was an amazing first step, but the next major frontier is using video on a one-on-one basis,” such as with live and pre-recorded video chats with customer specialists.

Social Video Examples in Customer Service

A growing number of companies are getting a leg up on their competitors by integrating online video into the entire customer service experience. Eliason shared some of his favorite examples of familiar companies that dedicated themselves to better customer service with social video:

1. Cisco’s YouTube Channel: “Cisco accomplishes many things within their channel, including building trust for the brand. They highlight the company through thought leadership pieces, marketing efforts, as well as customer support. Of course, my favorite are the customer support videos, but they all add tremendous value to the brand.”

2. Zappos: “Zappos is mentioned so often in relation to social media, but I could not pass this up when talking videos. One of my favorite videos put out by Zappos are their reply to other customers. The ‘Inside Zappos’ portion of Zappos’ own YouTube channel provides insight into the culture of the company in a real way.”

3) Citi: “(Disclosure: I work for Citi) We have done a number of things with video, but one of the steps that excites me is bringing one-on-one video to the branch experience. In certain branches, if a customer prefers, they can have a video chat with a Citi banker 24/7, right within the entrance way to the branch. I think this is a great first step toward creating similar one-on-one discussions from the comfort of your own home.”

4) Domino’s Pizza: “We have all heard about the video by a couple of employees preparing pizza in a questionable manner. Unfortunately this is an example of employees taking control of the brand. I, of course, did not bring them up to rehash this nightmare for them, but instead I hold them as an example of how to respond to social crisis, and the video done by their CEO in response to that video. It was very human and one of the best responses to any social media crisis.” 

How to Be a Customer Service Champion with Social Video

Here are some ways all brands can practice better customer service with online video, from the barebones “soloprenuer” to the large-scale enterprise.

Provide how-tos, tutorials, and DIYs: Crutchfield Electronics has a vast “learning center” online featuring videos of its customer specialists answering questions. It’s good about creating customer-centric conversations with video. Keep in mind, these don’t have to be videos specifically about products. They can also be about customers’ regular lifestyle activities or shared cultural values.

Give customers a voice: Support and incentivize customers to submit and share videos around their experience, either with the brand, a lifestyle, or theme related to the business’ own culture. Feature them on the company blog, call them out by name, and send thanks for their feedback (whether it be positive or negative).

Offer live and recorded video chat: Free platforms are available on Skype, Google Hangouts, and Spreecast for both one-on-one and one-to-many customer conversations. Schedule a regular time to interact with customers. Allow for questions and topics to be submitted in advance.

Video Will Be a Game Changer in Customer Service

Take it from Eliason: it’s time to rethink the customer service model with a focus on video.

“Video can be seen as a game changer, as long as we do not create a big brother feel in what we do. As with anything, it is the right balance,” Eliason says.




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