When I tell someone that we make an API for video chat, I always ask, “Can you think of a use case?”
Every time, without fail, I get the same response: “So… like for video customer service?”
In practice, few companies we’ve spoken to get excited about video customer service. It’s hard to see what value video brings in most support scenarios. Do customers really need or want to see the person on the other end? Are customers comfortable on camera? Is it worth the overhead for reps to be manning a video support queue? We aren’t sure.
As a company that offers a video chat API, it’s a little embarrassing that we don’t use it on our site. The most obvious use for live video on a site like ours is customer service, but the truth is, we haven’t been able to make it work.
For a few weeks we tried doing video office hours. Every Wednesday at 5pm we invited developers to come ask us questions through video chat. We promoted it with a few tweets. But unsurprisingly, nobody came.
The problem was not because of lack of questions, but because we were trying to force people on to our schedule. Instead of engaging visitors when they most likely had questions (i.e. when browsing our website), we were trying to corral them back to our site when it was convenient for us.
The alternative is to be ready when it is convenient for our visitors—so that’s what we’re going to try.
Today we’re launching our iOS SDK. We’ve set up a page to encourage visitors to come chat with us through video. We will be ready and waiting to talk to anybody that swings by.
We have no idea how it’s going to turn out, but it should be a fun experiment.