Living With Video Calls

By Ravi Saraogi

The global COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in the way people work. One of these changes includes the increased use of video conferencing as a means to communicate with each other. From allowing businesses to continue operating to enabling consumers to stay connected despite being physically apart – we have witnessed the widespread adoption of video conversations around the globe. 
According to a report by Research and Markets, the Video Conferencing Market in the Asia Pacific alone is projected to reach US$ 3,432.4 million by 2027 and is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 11.4 per cent from 2020 to 2027. This means that – love it or hate it – video conversations are here to stay.

Powering Collaboration, Connection and Continuity

We have all experienced firsthand how video conversations can help us stay connected during the pandemic. On a personal level, we are constantly looking for ways to stay engaged while confined to our homes, away from colleagues, friends, and family. On a professional level, businesses, corporations, and educational institutions across the region are forced to take their operations online due to tightened measures and restrictions implemented.
Specific industries have also adapted well to video conversations. The education sector, for example, has contributed towards the trend of upskilling, re-skilling, and e-learning with the physical closure of educational institutions globally. The customer experience (CX) sector is also moving in a similar direction. With constant changes in travel restrictions, vaccine queries, healthcare issues, online shopping and more, the industry continues to receive an overwhelming influx of calls – both audio and video – from consumers. It is observed that more and more consumers are willing to conduct video calls whenever deemed necessary to resolve issues quicker or to get better deals.

Overcoming Video Fatigue and Other Challenges

Engaging in a video conversation, however, requires much more focus than face-to-face interaction. This is because our minds need to work harder and consume more energy to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone, the pitch of the voice, and body language. 
According to a Consumer Survey on Video Conversations: Trends, Fails & Wins, Malaysians noted challenges with video calls as respondents claimed they couldn’t get their point across and more than two-fifths of the respondents cited they couldn’t tell if others on the call were engaged or not. The survey also revealed that Malaysians disliked the idea of having to be “camera-ready” all the time, seeing themselves on camera, and getting ready for video calls. Other challenges include finding it hard to feel energised during and after video calls. 
Multitasking and distractions are also on the rise – shining more light on the dark side of video calls. Top activities Malaysians tend to do during a virtual meeting include watching or streaming shows online, scanning social media, going for bathroom breaks, online shopping, and house cleaning. 

Embracing Change with Artificial Intelligence 

While people understand the benefits of video conversations, it is necessary to find ways to minimise frustration levels to effectively enable better understanding, engagement, and empathy. 
One solution is to incorporate artificial intelligence, or AI, to help identify emotion and engagement levels in real-time, enhance communication and ultimately drive better business results. This will not be limited to regular video conferencing, but it also opens new use cases, affecting CX, sales, marketing, human resources, and other critical areas of the business. 
Video conversations powered by AI can help employers and employees stay connected in a time where remote working and social distancing have become part of our lives. This can be done by using advanced facial emotion recognition and eye-tracking technology to capture and analyse interactions over video in real-time to enhance engagement between people. The technology can be relied on to pick up on cues people may have missed and share tips to better engage audiences by detecting facial and eye movement, facial expressions of emotion, attention span and essential demographics, allowing people to feel heard during video calls. Automation can also resolve customer service issues quicker, especially when dealing with more technical matters such as installation, as well as provide on-screen transcription to help reduce a speaker’s accent during calls or presentations. This will help in developing deeper connections with customers or clients and aid in closing sales or business deals. 
We still have a long way to go to make virtual interactions as seamless and effective as in-person conversations – but we are getting there. This powerful combination of voice and video analytics will drive new waves of transformation by helping users feel more understood, conveying non-verbal communication accurately, preventing distractions during calls and maintaining motivation and engagement. 
Collectively, we can turn the use of video calls into an enjoyable experience for all by addressing frustrations and communication challenges, all with the help of additional tools to enhance higher degrees of people-to-people understanding.

About the Author: Ravi Saraogi (pictured above) is the Co-Founder and President of Uniphore APAC. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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