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Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
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Sheila McGee-Smith | August 26, 2013 |

 
   

Video in the Contact Center: Just Do It

Video in the Contact Center: Just Do It Expensive networking and equipment are no longer a barrier holding companies back from adding video to customer experience.

Expensive networking and equipment are no longer a barrier holding companies back from adding video to customer experience.

The technology to add video in the contact center has long been available. The first trial I can remember was announced with this press release, "Customers Will Soon Conduct Video Banking with Bell Atlantic's Retail Delivery Alternative." When was this? July 1996. The Mellon Bank trial used technology from Teloquent (acquired by Syntellect and then by Enghouse Interactive) and PictureTel (acquired by Polycom). The network technology used was BRI ISDN.

What is different about video today is how inexpensive it is to set-up and deploy. It's finally not about the technology but about applications.

LanguageLine Solutions is an interpretation services business that uses bilingual "agents" to assist businesses in providing customer service. For 30 or so years, this has been done using telephones. Recently they have added a Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) service, LanguageUc.

I was reminded of early Cisco TelePresence marketing when Product Manager for LanguageUc Bill Crockett quoted research that "93 percent of communication is non-verbal." It certainly makes sense that seeing the two people they are assisting to communicate will make the task not only easier but more effective.

The photo above shows a healthcare application, where a physician may need assistance speaking with a patient. The photo below is a branch banking application. It's not difficult to imagine how much easier it would be to walk into a foreign bank if translation services were so easily, and visibly, available.

The final picture, below, is perhaps my favorite--because it's not the healthcare and finance verticals that typically have the ROIs for advanced collaboration applications. It's an arrival hall at an airport and an information agent is using an iPad with an interpreter to help a traveler in need of assistance.

In fact, in all three cases the video device is an iPad. LanguageUc is an application available in the Apple Store for free download. Access to agents requires a login.

I trialed the system and found the entire process took less than five minutes, from email with credentials to video call with an agent. The male Spanish interpreter who answered my call was dressed simply in a white shirt, and was seated in front of a blue background. I mention this because so often discussion of video in the contact center devolves into discussions of what workspaces look like and what agents should wear. It's not rocket science.

What is different about bringing video into the contact center today as opposed to in 1996? The difference is the ubiquity and low cost of the required bandwidth and appliances. The Mellon Bank trial likely cost in excess of a million dollars and was never widely deployed. In contrast, LanguageUc isn't even restricted to the iPad; it works with other tablets, laptops, or any other kind of video-enabled device. For me, this LanguageLine service highlights that expensive networking and equipment should not hold companies back from adding video to customer experience. As those sports guys say, just do it.

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