Video Collaboration for the Contact Centre of the Future

Posted on: March 21, 2013 by Paul Moore Olmstead

The Atos Scientific Community, in its recent research paper; Ascent Journey 2016, considers the impact of combining video, multimedia and data on how people will interact on both a personal and organizational basis.

Until not all that long ago, to organize a night out with my friends we would typically phone each other. In the last decade or so we have shifted to email, SMS or WhatsApp – digital, either synchronous or asynchronous, but still one on one. A teenager today has never known that. They may be huge users of WhatsApp for chatting to each other, but when it comes time to really get something done, they can’t imagine doing it without their social network of choice. Collaboration just is their normal, natural, default way of doing things.

When these teenagers (the so-called millennium generation) deals with a company they will naturally expect something similar. At the same time, in the last decade or so, there have been two related trends that completely or partially bypass the traditional modes of communication between users/consumers and companies to address issues:

- The generalization of the use of online forums. One of the now common uses of these forums is for users help each other to find, compare and resolve problems without the need for participation of personnel from Customer Service

- The massive uptake of user generated content and video platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. Users upload videos to these sites that show us exactly how to do something such as replace a part in some piece of equipment that is broken or a how-to through screen capture software.

The advantage of these two ways of working is of course that a large part of the problems that required some sort of intervention in the past are now resolved by users themselves. But this comes at a cost. First, the solutions that users give each other, intentionally or not, are not always the optimal ones and in some cases could be negative or even dangerous. And second, the enterprise has lost a golden opportunity to deepen its relationship with the customer, to get feedback and possibly to create new business opportunities.

A number of other trends reinforce or are part of this evolution of how users receive help and/or work together. On the one hand the rise of enterprise social networks and social CRM, and on the other improvements in such diverse technologies as video streaming and conferencing, multimedia search and filtering, speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP), social network analysis, semantics and augmented reality. On top of all that if we add “social eyes”/Google Hangout type setups and gamification (see we now have the conditions to create the Contact Centre of the Future.

It will include traditional one on one communication with Contact Centre personnel and a self-service desk. But to this will be added something like the Google Hangout. Here, after your problem has been classified (through semi-automated processes using IVR, NLP and semantics), you are directed to a specific moderated forum with other users with similar problems. These forums will include both video (similar to Google Hangouts) and chat. When needed, you can still speak to a moderator/technician both through video conferencing and the use of the camera of the laptop or mobile (or even your Google Glass!) to allow the technician to directly inspect your problem and see what you are seeing. Tools would be provided that will allow you to edit and save the videos thus created for reutilization and sharing (with-semi automatic annotation based on the problem space and user interaction).

There would also be the option to upload videos, either the videos created during the help process described above or videos you have created yourself. After a moderation/curation process, the material can be added to library of solutions and support material and gamification will be used as an important stimulus for contributing. The major issues are ease of editing and annotating, as well as validation/moderation. User ratings of all material is important, both for selecting for the future, but also for the gamified rewards system.

The Contact Centre of the Future will be collaborative, with the novel concept of the video-based forum, taking advantage of the fact that many users love to help each other, with further stimulation through gamification. In this Contact Centre forum, video will play an increasingly central role, combining professional video with curated user generated content; as well video will be used to enhance the communication between contact centre personnel and users but also, and this in the end may be the killer app, between the users themselves.

Wouldn’t you rather hang out with people with similar issues to solve problems? This may not be true for everyone yet, but this type of collaborative experience is already an integral part of the personal lives of the Facebook/Facetime generation and they consider it only natural that this be extended to their business, commercial and working life.

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About Paul Moore Olmstead
Director of Strategic Business Development for Global Media, Atos and member of the Scientific Community
Paul Moore Olmstead has been working in the area of innovation in the media market for over 15 years. He is based in London, UK and has dual Canadian/Spanish citizenship and degrees in Economics from the University of Toronto and Computer Business Systems at Ryerson University. Previously he spent many years on the BBC Account for Atos where he was responsible for Innovation and Sustainability and before that was the head of Media in Atos Research & Innovation. With over 25 years experience in IT, Paul has worked in wide variety of areas, including public procurement, accounting, mobility, Smart Cities, analytics and media. Paul has worked in such areas as video streaming, 3D, digital preservation, social media, video analytics and recommender systems. He has been collaborating as an external expert for the European Commission for over 10 years and has been a member of the Atos Scientific Community since 2011 where he leads research in the Media area. As well, Paul is responsible for the Media Industry in the Atos Expert Community.

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