Video conferencing – aligning to customer expectations

Video conferencing is much more than seeing and hearing the person on the other side of the screen these days, but what are consumer’s expectations and what are the questions resellers can expect? Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne spoke to Lifesize director of major accounts Rich Middleton

Now that IMAX cinemas and 8K televisions have almost reached normality in the consumer world, the expectations on AV vendors are just as high.

Add into the equation a video conferencing solution that relies on good connectivity and multiple components working together and it may be fair to suggest that those vendors are up against it.

“The buying criteria of this sort of technology has definitely changed and the quality that people expect has definitely increased and ease of use has definitely increased” said Middleton.

One of the drivers for that is that, without paying for or subscribing to any service at home, you can open your laptop and, as long as you have a camera, microphone and are connected to the internet in some shape or form, there are 10, 15, 20 different services out there that you can download for free and be on a video call.

A lot of those services are delivering very good quality and we are definitely seeing the consumer world really set the expectations in terms of what they want to achieve and what they want to be able to do whilst using a more professional video conferencing or collaboration service in their business.”

So with those expectations set, what should be the strategy to tackle churn rates?

As Middleton points out, expectations have been set by video calling apps already available to consumers such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. However, he also points out that the enterprise is after a bit more than just a clear picture.

“Quality is one of the big things, it has to be good quality, but that is open to interpretation. Is quality the picture on the screen? Is it the experience? Is it how easy it is to get into a video conferencing session?

You need a user interface that is intuitive and easy to use. You can have the greatest technology in the world but if you need to read a big manual before using the system you’ll lose your audience. Consumers are used to a world now with iPhones, where the user interface is so simple that you pick it up and you can go.

The last piece is the security around it. When working with different organisations there’s a range of different people that you have to please but at the end is the head of security who wants to make sure there is no chance of any sort of breeches of security. That is always a balancing act, we’ve always tried to keep a balance and make sure we don’t push forward with features for features sake but when we roll out new features, it does not compromise the integrity of the solution. For us it always has to be safe secure and reliable as well as being user friendly, cost effective and meeting those customer requirements.”

Middleton added that the invention of huddle rooms using different solutions from different vendors has opened up an opportunity for Lifesize and its solution that fixes the problems that this approach has brought.

“The problem with a set up where you have things like screens, microphones and underlying software behind these solutions from different vendors is that if something goes wrong, you have different people to potentially call to resolve the issue.

We launched Lifesize Icon 300 Huddle Room System earlier this year and customers who have gone down the route of building their own rooms, managing large estates with various components are very interested in that type of product.

Nearly every IT manager that I speak to that went down that route two or three years ago are not happy with the solution, it’s ended up costing them more than they originally thought and we have been talking to a lot of those companies who are now interested in Lifesize products.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine