If there is one constant in CX, it is that evolving client needs should not be underestimated.  Not only is one of the factors that makes this industry one of the most interesting to cover, it also bring with it opportunities for outsourcers that are willing to follow the maxim of ‘who dares, wins’.  In the case of shifting front-line needs, more firms are looking to work with providers that can offer traditional solutions alongside those that may be perceived as more cutting edge.  This has come to light recently with interest in leveraging video kiosk-based agents to service end-users in a retail environment, illustrating a higher-value niche that should be on the minds of forward looking BPOs.

For many, video kiosks may denote images of vintage Star Trek episodes, but the reality is much more down to earth in 2022.  The idea of a consumer being assisted in a query or a transaction by way of a remote agent that is connected through a video terminal in a place of business has been in practice for some time (such as for car rentals). The application of video kiosk CX recently came into the news with reports that health food provider Freshii has deployed a remote cashier system, with Toronto-based customers being supported by video kiosk agents based in Nicaragua.

And, while the coverage of this revelation has raised questions about the impact on local employment, the concept of video kiosks being used in such an environment should surprise no one in the CX space.  In fact, the 2022 Front Office CX Omnibus Survey published this month by Ryan Strategic Advisory indicates that across North America, Western Europe and Australia, approximately one quarter of enterprises use this interface in their customer management strategies.  Even more compelling is that that three-in-five of respondents deploying video kiosks feel that the use of this channel will grow in the next year.

What does this mean for the outsourcing community?  Well, the implications are potentially lucrative for those that decide to embark down a path of supporting end-users with some type of video kiosk offering.  With more interest from companies in how this medium can be used to service consumers on the front lines, ensuring that the needed tools for such an offering are in place is a must.   This means determining technology requirements alongside developing subject matter expertise in how best to support an on-the-ground retail customer – someone that needs help completing a car rental at the airport or paying for groceries in the supermarket checkout line is a lot different to an end-user calling from the comfort of their home.

This also requires a great deal of due diligence when it comes to recruitment.  Obviously, the pressure managing a video kiosk interaction with an end-user that needs immediate resolution to complete an on-site transaction will be significant.  It may discount many applicants that cannot handle such levels of stress, meaning a re-think for BPOs around where they need to find talent.  An obvious choice in this case would be to target former or current employees that have worked in retail or travel / leisure, individuals who have experience managing the challenges of making customers on the front lines happy.

This also means outsourcers that take up the video kiosk opportunity have to determine how best to position such an offering from an industry angle.  Clearly, there are immediate sweet spots in the above-mentioned retail and travel & leisure.  However, the possibilities extend potentially into health care, banking, and government services (just to name a few) – truly, this channel can be applied in any sector where customers need to interact with a staff member at the point of transaction.  The challenge for the BPO community is to not only recognize where these opportunities lie, but the best way to incorporate video kiosks into a broader CX offering.

Image sourced from Marco Verch under relevant Creative Commons licence