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Vonage Explains Why Video Is Here to Stay
In November, Vonage released its 10th Global Customer Engagement Report, surveying 5,000 consumers from 14 countries about how COVID-19 changed their traditional methods of communication and which methods had become routine during lockdown and quarantines. No Jitter recently spoke with Joy Corso, chief marketing officer, Vonage, to learn what’s driving increased demand for digital channels and the impact of video chat on customer service.
Responses have been edited for conciseness and clarity.
Vonage’s Global Customer Engagement Report 2021 says, “we’re now in an age where customers expect ultra-fast, seamless, and dynamic customer experiences catered to their needs at any given moment.” How did customers come to expect this? Why are businesses supporting this expectation?
Corso: The value around ease of doing business has continually grown and reflects in customer expectations. Consider the shift that happened during the early days of the pandemic—online and remote delivery of services gained adoption, from shopping to ordering takeout and even fitness. These events have changed our expectations of what was possible and what customers consider a standard—likely forever.
This expectation extends to a business’s internal operations. Hybrid working, for example, is now an expectation, not a business continuity issue. The connectivity and flexibility forced on organizations (and to many where remote working was [deemed] ‘impossible’) is now embraced. Similarly, employees in the modern workplace expect the same digitally-driven, personalized experience from their employers when connecting with colleagues and customers. No matter where or how people choose to work or live, everyone wants the same access to the contacts, tools, and business applications they rely on, from anywhere.
To meet this change head-on—businesses must take an integrated approach to deliver a wide range of robust services and solutions and power global engagement solutions that enable them to perform better, connect easier, and enhance experiences.
Your report also says that traditional communication methods (email, phone) stayed steady while digital channels like chatbots and video broke out big. What’s driving this increased volume in customer contact?
Corso: The pandemic and the increased need for digital channels was a fundamental global shift to digital-first [communication], and re-emphasized the importance of communications and technology. It also fueled the need for greater, more widespread adoption of innovation. Through cloud communications technology, businesses provided uninterrupted remote delivery of services, employees remained connected from anywhere, and consumers across the globe checked in with their families, friends, doctors, and schools, across their channel of choice—voice, video, messaging, social chat, etc.
As we continue to value connected experiences with customers and employees across the globe, increased demand will continue for integrated, embedded, and programmable capabilities as the focus on customer experience across channels continue to grow—through video, verification, and messaging.
Where did the demand for these new channels originate?
Corso: Consumers who embraced new and emerging channels of communication during the pandemic did not revert to old habits. Customer engagement has permanently changed, and there will be no return to the pre-2020 norms.
Why has video chat seen growth as the number one preferred method for customer communications?
Corso: COVID-19 radically disrupted everyday life, almost instantly transforming how we work, learn, shop, bank, and receive healthcare. Video communication helped shape the "new normal" for people everywhere, keeping them connected and enabling meaningful business interactions. Before the pandemic, Vonage’s research consistently showed that customers favored video for a personalized experience or when they had a complex problem to resolve, [but] video chat among consumers soared in popularity, as in-person interactions were suddenly restricted.
Research also shows that video calls make people feel the greatest sense of emotional connection, beaten only by in-person conversations. In healthcare, general practitioners can tend to patients, despite the miles between them, while surgeons even perform operations remotely. In finance, you could locate tax advisors, bankers, and others, anywhere, as they deliver services by video call. Through online education, students navigated the last 18 months with a little bit of normalcy—staying connected through the most challenging times without falling behind or sacrificing their studies.