We are living in a ‘remote first’ world where visual engagement has become a critical piece in our current day-to-day interactions. Zoom classrooms, livestream weddings, and GoToMeeting staff conferences have become part and parcel of our everyday lives. This remote and digital-first world has made service organizations rethink how to engage with customers. Our traditional physical channels – such as in-store browsing, in-person support or “bracketing,” which is buying multiple versions of the same item, choosing the winner, and returning the rest — need to be reimagined to fit in our new reality of remote and digital-first.
Remote visual engagement is an approach that has been proven to be a critical bridge between physical and digital interactions. Remote visual engagement goes way beyond just ‘seeing what your customer sees’ – it’s an enabler and connector for digital transformation. It’s a journey that enables organizations to add vision to more digital touchpoints and allows for more advanced use cases such as visual self-service, while automating repetitive tasks over time. As organizations advance in their visual transformation journey, they will find that they are increasingly able to reduce both customer and employee effort, optimize their costs and generate more revenue.
Drivers of Visual Transformation
Digital-first is now the norm
Let’s face it. Whoever wasn’t online before COVID-19, is online now. According to Forbes, the pandemic and its need for social distancing caused Internet usage to skyrocket by 70%. With so many people at home, Netflix has reported unprecedented membership gains, and Amazon has on boarded billions of new visitors. With so much more of our lives online, companies are prioritizing the need to deliver engaging, frustration-free online experiences for their customers. Remote visual engagement platforms can help companies achieve this goal at every point of the customer journey.
Remote assistance is here to stay
Helping customers from afar is nothing new. For years, organizations have been attempting to resolve more of their customer’s issues remotely to boost overall effectiveness. Recently, the focus on remote assistance has been increasing, driven mainly by the rising expectations of customers, the growing complexity of cases, and the emergence of new technologies such as IoT diagnostics, video, AR and computer vision AI. In 2021, remote support has become a standard in customer service and is here to stay. According to a recent TechSee survey, 42% of consumers indicated that — even after the pandemic — they would prefer to get remote support and avoid technician visits altogether. Companies understand this need, with 78% of CEOs agreeing that remote collaboration is here to stay for the long-term, according to PwC.
Visual = Engaging
When it comes to engagement, the visual element delivers an entirely different customer experience than a chatbot, text, or phone call. 65% of customers are visual learners, so compelling visuals and video are key to enhancing customer engagement. Also, today’s customers want to receive information quickly and effortlessly – and visual content is processed 60,000 times faster than text. Visuals also help humanize an otherwise faceless company and allow customers the opportunity to interact with it, building stronger relationships in the process.
Advantages of a Visual First Strategy
There are many different benefits that a visual first strategy brings to a business.
Visuals enhance communication
It is the reason Zoom’s stock price has skyrocketed during the pandemic, and the company name is now commonly used as a verb. Communicating visually is the next-best thing to in-person interactions, enabling a personal and emotional connection even from afar. Nothing compares to seeing facial expressions, hand movements, and the general environment of the person you are engaging with. Nothing.
Visual transformation will augment digital experiences
Statistics say that the customer’s experience is considered more valuable than the price and product when it comes to the purchase decision. Visual experiences – video, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. – help support the purchase decision by removing any guesswork or uncertainty. By combining visual assistance with digital channels, brands can include more of the tactile elements of in-store shopping, thereby engaging with customers more effectively and memorably.
Visuals lower effort and add convenience to interactions
A Gartner study about customer effort reveals that customers are 94% more likely to make another purchase if they have an easy or low-effort experience with a brand during the first encounter. Visual assistance removes the frustration of back-and-forth clarifications or any misunderstandings that can easily occur with verbal descriptions. When both the brand and the customer can simply see what the other is referring to, significant friction is removed from the interaction.
Visual capabilities enable more advanced use cases
Adding the visual element to customer interactions can allow agents to handle more use cases than ever before. “Show rather than verbally describe” lays the groundwork for advanced use cases like visual self-service. Imagine automating a common task using the power of vision — providing customers with AR-based visuals that show how to descale a coffee machine, indicate the settings on a washing machine, or explain how to install a new WiFi router. These advanced use cases facilitate a convenient and pleasant user experience. In fact, 44% of consumers claim they now would prefer to resolve more issues via self-service than before the pandemic. But the organization benefits as well. More use cases mean higher levels of call deflection to self-service, translating into optimized costs and better use of call center resources.
Examples of brands making the visual transformation
Global telecom giant Vodafone uses visuals to provide their customers with more personalized support during a call. For example, if an agent realizes that the subscriber has moved to an IP-based telephony enabled router but still has an analog phone, the agent emails the customer a PDF containing links to new IP phones from a video library, making the choice simpler for the customer.
Virginia-based River Pools turned to virtual sales demos to boost their business during COVID. The company used video to visually instruct customers about which documents they would need for permits, and how to properly photograph their space for planning purposes. Homeowners are visually guided to photograph different angles of their property, including elevations and obstructions. This usage of remote visual assistance helped reduce the need for a River Pools’ project designer to do a physical site survey at the customer’s location and more than doubled the number of sales demos the company could schedule per day.
Faced by the sudden collapse in travel, global brand Airbnb shifted to help their hosts offer online events to customers. Paid activities include cooking demos, meditation, magic, virtual tours, and many other types of online events. This pivot allowed the company to stay relevant in a difficult period and advance its strategy of becoming a wide-ranging lifestyle platform.
Visual Transformation: The Journey has Begun
The journey of visual transformation is already underway. Driven by a digital-first mentality and the need for remote support and enhanced customer engagement, brands are recognizing the need for a visual-first strategy for acquiring and keeping their customers. Click here for Part 2 where we explore visual technologies and the three critical stages along the journey to becoming visually advanced.
This article was first published on the TechSee blog.