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The Video Meeting Fallacy: Why video alone isn’t enough

Unblu, the conversational and collaboration platform for financial institutions, were one of the event partners at our Leeds Conference this year. In this article, Danny Baggs, Director of Marketing UK, Unblu highlights how the pandemic accelerated digital transformation, how customer expectations have since changed and how to overcome the “video meeting fallacy”.

Why video alone isn’t enough

As the pandemic shook up every aspect of working life, the urgency of digital transformation rapidly accelerated. However, the reach of this impulse didn’t stop at our home desks. Customer preferences went digital too, creating a demand for omnichannel services.

Of course, the dynamics of digital competition were not solely a product of the pandemic. BigTech and digital disruptors who hinged their offers on technological advancement have been chipping away at customer experience for years, shaping a new set of expectations. Nonetheless, it’s the effect of the pandemic that has taken digital transformation from a threat on the horizon to the standard for survival.

In finance, this has given way to some seismic shifts. Research by Kearney shows that 64% of UK consumers are now willing to open an account online—a 30-40% increase from the year before. Today, it’s clear that the digital directive has come to define the financial services landscape.

The pandemic, customer expectations and the video meeting fallacy

In the context of this renewed pressure, where does the so-called video meeting fallacy fit in? It was, after all, the video meeting that offered a digital salvation to many pandemic-stricken service providers.

In each customer journey, positive experiences come about when it is the customer who defines their own path. Touch-points and service channels should accommodate varied needs at different moments—but the importance of convenience is often overlooked. The tendency is to consider one touchpoint at a time, giving less thought to how these interconnect and form a coherent whole.

With this at the core of the video meeting fallacy, the pandemic introduced a new layer. The response to the global crisis was largely reactive, where financial institutions fell back on the video meeting to replicate in-person touch-points. In turn, the benchmark for customer services fell short of what was needed: digital innovation.

It’s time we asked whether video meetings are enough to provide a truly customer-centric experience: one that gives them the power of choice, rather than forcing them to use a designated channel.

A fork in the road: Moving towards a holistic vision of the customer journey

The fact that video meetings aren’t a catch-all customer experience solution doesn’t mean we should do away with them completely. They should be implemented as one among several interconnected digital touch-points, embedded into the customer journey.

If we consider that journey holistically, we see that isolated video meetings don’t deliver the asynchronous communication that is so integral to positive customer relationships. Equally, they tend to happen in a kind of corporate blackbox. They lack relevant context from prior communications, and they often fall outside of authentication systems that protect the company and customers.

While the task of integration is technically demanding, insisting that customers routinely use video functionalities isn’t going to be effective. Today’s customers relate to convenient forms of communication like asynchronous messaging, and a more holistic engagement strategy will see value in providing these kinds of channels. Ultimately, customers will take the path of least resistance—and video meetings are not always the best way to blaze that trail.

Customer centric digital tools to make each interaction meaningful

‘Emotion’ is often associated with face-to-face interaction, but it’s also a relevant term for digital solutions that augment human communications. Fundamentally, customers want to feel valued and respected. If presented with digital tools that help them to complete a task, it’ll build upon the emotional connection elicited by the human component.

To see how this might work in practice, take the example of a client and wealth adviser who use a client portal for their communications. Add in an embedded secure messaging service, and there is an ultra-convenient way for them to interact in real-time to resolve minor queries.

At the point where more complex advice is required, the adviser might opt to escalate the interaction to a video call. Here, the addition of co-browsing feature curbs the inefficiencies of regular video meeting platforms. Instead, the two can simultaneously view documentation or do investment research collaboratively, avoiding the need for a follow-up meeting to discuss their findings. The client is left feeling supported by their advisor and satisfied that their time has been respected.

In summary: Overcoming the video meeting fallacy

Banks must avoid falling into the trap of thinking that a smiling face on a video platform is an effective way to keep digital services ‘human’. The key is in using multiple interconnected channels to augment human-led services. The key is in using multiple interconnected channels to augment human-led services. The video meeting way well be among them, but we need to be asking questions about how they can be more productive, and more meaningful.

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