Video Calls in Contact Center – To Be or Not To Be? The Smiddle Experience

Read on UA

When weighing the pros and cons, each company must independently determine the feasibility of implementing video calls in the contact center. We would like to tell you about the experience of the international software company Smiddle, involved in solving this task for a Ukrainian bank. 

Smiddle specializes in the development of software products for contact center automation and optimization. It implements projects in the markets of Ukraine, the EU, and other countries around the world. The main audience is large and medium-sized businesses with call centers, as well as large outsourcing contact centers. Smiddle has a high level of quality management, confirmed by ISO 9001:2015 certification.

Video in the contact center – trick or treat?

There are many discussions about the implementation of video calls in the contact center. What do video advocates say?

  1. Live communication replaces waiting on the phone. A client who sees the agent is more patient and loyal.
  2. It is much easier to mitigate negativity when you have visual contact and understand the reaction of the other person.
  3. Remote video identification is possible.
  4. The client shows more patience and is ready to wait longer for the issue to be resolved when they directly see the operator face to face. 

The advantages are obvious, but it is worth considering other nuances to the implementation of such solutions. Opponents of video calls argue the following:

  1. Operators who communicate via video channel need a specially equipped, preferably separate, room.
  2. Operators must be visually attractive, and dressed in uniform.
  3. It is more stressful for operators to communicate in video mode, compared to audio.
  4. Not all operators will agree to work in the video channel. There is a need for additional training.

Video calls in the contact center of a Ukrainian bank – how it started

The project started at the end of 2021 when Smiddle was invited to discuss the possibilities of interaction between the bank’s mobile application and the Cisco UCCE contact center. At that time, Smiddle had completed another project for this customer to receive calls from the contact center in CRM Siebel. So the bank had been convinced of Smiddle’s expertise in integrating systems with the Cisco UCCE platform.

The task was formulated as follows; to bring video calls from the mobile application to CRM Siebel as the main channel and to Cisco Finesse as a backup channel, where they would be accepted by the operator. At the same time, it was necessary to preserve the logic of request handling, which was set up for the non-voice channel in the contact center. It is important that as a result, the customer retains a single center for managing agents in the contact center and general statistics in terms of agents/requests for both the voice and video channel.

By coincidence, at this time Smiddle was working on their software solution for audio and video calls based on Web RTC technology. The functionality included web chat, allowing for audio or video calls directly to the Cisco UCCE contact center. There, requests could be accepted by an agent in a separate (non-voice) queue, according to the settings in the contact center.

Thus, the operator has both chat and video with the client at the same time. This is especially convenient if it is necessary to exchange documents, screenshots, etc., during a video session.

Smiddle’s Video Call Solution

First, the customer was offered to consider adapting the existing prototype, but after a long discussion, they declined. The reason was that in the suggested product, integration took place through the API, and the customer expected to receive an SDK for integrating the solution with a mobile application for IOS and Android. The tight deadlines and project budget did not allow for a separate SDK development process.

After some consultation, the company concluded that the optimal option for delivering the video stream was Cisco Webex – an enterprise-level platform with an existing SDK supported by the vendor. The status as Cisco Partner and significant practical experience in integrating Cisco solutions was an advantage for Smiddle, but during the implementation process, there were some surprises and obstacles that affected the timing of the project implementation.

What went wrong?

The first “black swan event” was an external factor, completely independent of the company and well-known to everyone – war. It greatly affected the composition and performance of the team, for both Smiddle and the customer. All Ukrainian enterprises and organizations had to adapt to new circumstances. Today it’s time to sincerely thank both teams for working in extremely difficult and non-standard conditions. Despite hostile shelling and endless air raid alarms, all project participants responsibly performed their tasks.

The second factor, which was not foreseen, was that the customer used completely different programming principles in Siebel than the Smiddle specialists. Again, they had to adapt. It took some time, but the priority was complete satisfaction with the result.

What was implemented?

Despite all the difficulties and surprises, the project was brought to a successful conclusion. Briefly about the features of the solution: the interface and capabilities of the agent’s workplace depend on which system they work in – contact center or CRM. The client initiates a video call from the mobile application, the system checks the availability and accessibility of agents and selects an agent for connection according to the logic of the contact center (e.g. prioritizing the most experienced or least loaded).

For the agent, the video call looks like a request to accept an incoming connection. By clicking OK, the agent sees a window with the client’s video and their own, in a reduced format. Simultaneously, the client’s card or agent script is raised along with the video. The call is counted in the contact center statistics, which allows you to get a complete picture of the interaction with clients regardless of the requested channel. The client can give the agent access to the screen when it is necessary to see what problem the client has and solve it faster. Video calls are recorded, like all other calls in the contact center, and can be reviewed if necessary.

Results of video calls in a Ukrainian bank

After a year of continuous and stable operation of the software solution, the customer received thousands of video calls in the system and received numerous positive reviews about the new communication channel. Contact center employees are confident that video communication accelerates the resolution of issues and makes communication more constructive. The functionality of making a video call by the client even before the completion of registration in the application (a call from the so-called “pre-authorization” zone) proved to be very useful.

During this period, Smiddle received valuable feedback and is already planning further product development. One of the key innovations will be a callback to the application. It minimizes the risks of fake calls from third parties on behalf of the company and is used when increased trust in the communication channel is required. The development of a widget to place on web pages will allow clients to make video calls not only through the mobile application but directly from the pages of companies’ websites, which will expand the range of product applications.

Do you have a question or idea? Contact Smiddle, we love interesting contact center tasks