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Customer-Facing Video: UCaaS Vs. Embedded Video?
Over the course of the pandemic, the adoption switch has flipped on video communications — not just within the enterprise for employee collaboration, but also for consumers, many of whom have become more and more comfortable with videoconferencing through social and hobby usage. And, as we all know, comfort eventually turns to preference, which in turn means enabling video is becoming a major focus for the many sales and service operations that see themselves needing to provide this increasingly preferred means of customer engagement.
This desire to support video communications for customer engagement creates a conundrum. Does the organization bring video support into the contact center via integration with an enterprise communications and collaboration platform such as Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom Meetings, or does it embed video within its sales and service applications via an integration from a company like Glance, which provides guided CX experiences?
While taking the UCaaS-integration approach may seem simple and straightforward, especially when employees are familiar with these tools, Glance argues that the potential benefits of an embedded video platform are significant. In learning about Glance, I do think companies building next-generation customer interaction capabilities should be sure to consider embedded video as an option.
Disassociation or Asymmetry?
Use of a general-purpose UCaaS platform often involves a disassociation of the video experience from the branded application experience. This is because, in most cases, the video is in a separate application or space or features the UCaaS vendor logo and controls. Sending an email with an invite to a videoconference or requesting the customer to click to a separate space can defocus the brand and customer experience, disrupt the interaction, and lead to confusion for the customer, resulting in dissatisfaction and churn. The situation tends to get worse if the video session requires the customer to download software or plug-ins. Forcing customers into video download complexity can have a negative impact on outcomes.
With an embedded solution, there is no need for launching other applications. And, by not mandating the rigid meeting structures that exist in a meeting product, the overall experience can both be simplified in development and improved for the user. Allocation of screen real-estate can be optimized to the total experience.
UCaaS services are engineered for an egalitarian videoconference — meaning, participants are essentially equal (the host has some controls, but still is represented the same as all others). This “symmetrical” experience is ideal for general video meetings and events. However, when integrating video into an application, designing the experience to reflect a participant’s specific roles and needs can have transformational value and impact on the experience. This is an “asymmetrical” experience.
In this paradigm, each participant’s visual and audio experience within the event is capable of being tuned to optimize their experience and delivery of application value. A good example of where this might provide value is during strategic investment discussions between a broker and client.
In a general-purpose platform, the meeting might feel pedestrian. By taking advantage of the asymmetrical capabilities and organizing the screen to optimize the information and content being shared, the experience can be dramatically improved. While an expert is discussing a specific investment with the client, their video and the content and information is dominant, and the broker moves to a much less prominent role/position on the screen. After the presentation, the expert and the broker can now share equal screen space. With an embedded tool, the application developer can optimize the experience as the process changes. While meetings tools enable some level of screen visual management, the ability to mix multiple video and content/information sources and images into a cohesive screen presentation is optimized with an embedded solution.
With guided CX capabilities from Glance, a company can customize the experience even more. For example, as a loan officer reviews a mortgage application with a client, screenshare and co-browsing can complement the video interaction to deliver better experiences. This enables the application experience designer and developer to select between information and content versus different participants’ video as on-screen content. At different points in the use of the applications and in the customer journey, the experience can change to best accomplish the journey. For example, some part of a customer event may require video, while another may be more focused on content or information and audio may be sufficient or even superior. With an embedded solution, these transitions requiring different media can be seamless and integrated into the application business flow. (For more detail about selling versus task collaboration and video applications, read the PKE Consulting whitepaper here.)
A major part of transactions is sharing information and content, whether as shared application data or as device screens. Assuring the security of shared content and information exchanged during customer interaction via video/sharing sessions is critical to those transactions, as well as to business reputation.
Around the world, existing and new regulations limit the exchange of personal and private information and content and assure that certain personal information is not exposed during a normal business process. In many vertical industries where video and information/content sharing have major applications, regulations on information distribution exist. Considerations of regulatory mandates such as HIPAA, PCI, and GDPR must be factored into the development process. As this information is often contained and exposed in embedded shared screens and application images, many organizations require a solution for enabling sharing without compromising embedded data. Glance addresses this with data security processes meant to assure protection for regulated data and content. For example, a shared screen that includes a Social Security number would be masked in a Glance meeting.
The need for embedded video becomes even more apparent when the video is part of a diagnosis and solution process. The ability to use the video camera to gather information is difficult and complex in a typical UCaaS video system. However, an embedded solution can be integrated into the application, so it not only selects the right camera, but provides both the video source and destination and can provide users detailed information beyond the actual video.
For example, in a mobile application, the application can select front (screen) camera for the beginning of an interaction and move automatically to the rear camera when the application moves into a data-gathering mode. In a UCaaS application, users handle these controls. Alternatively, other video sources, such as applications, could be used for diagnosis. The video information can be combined with GPS or positioning data, along with other sensors and metrics within the application, while video is being transmitted and correlated. The smartphone compass reading can be correlated to the video stream for positioning documentation. The optimizations that an embedded solution enable can be critical for implementing the process workflow. Having access to the actual video, audio, and collaboration streams within the application framework enables analysis and response to the live situation in real-time and optimizes data for analysis.
Optimizing the Video Portal
In conclusion, the desktop application, the website/browser, and the mobile application are becoming the primary portals through which customers interact with brands. Optimizing the look, feel, and outcomes of next-generation applications with video interaction is both a challenge and an opportunity. Requiring a disconcerting context change to a “standard” UCaaS solution often requires leaving the branded business application or accepting a compromise in the overall customer experience. Embedding the video into the application enables optimized asymmetrical experiences and extended integration functionality that will be superior for most defined business processes.
Finally, as screen sharing has become the preferred way to accomplish many business process goals, the ability to manage information security and privacy is crucial. For companies that are developing new customer interaction solutions and are looking to include advanced video and screen sharing, evaluating an embedded option versus using the in-house UCaaS platform may lead to a superior solution and experience.