Our love-hate relationship with video conversations

Videoconferencing platforms have made remote work possible during the global COVID-19 pandemic. 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 videoconferencing market in Asia-Pacific alone is projected to reach $3.432 billion by 2027 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.4% from 2020 to 2027. This means that – love it or hate it – video conversations are here to stay.

Connection, and continuity

We have all experienced first-hand 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 with video conversations. The education sector, for example, has contributed towards the trend of upskilling, reskilling, and e-learning with the physical closure of educational institutions globally. The customer experience (CX) sector is also moving towards 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. In fact, 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.

Video call challenges

Engaging in a video conversation, however, requires much more focus than a 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, pitch of the voice, and body language. 

According to the 2021 Consumer Survey on Video Conversations: Trends, Fails & Wins, Singaporeans are self-conscious when it comes to video calls, with one in three respondents cited being misinterpreted for their facial expressions. The survey also revealed that Singaporeans 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 not being able to tell if others on the call were engaged, and finding it hard to feel energised and motivated 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 Singaporeans tend to do during a virtual meeting include watching or streaming shows online, scanning social media, going for bathroom breaks, ordering a meal, and faking a bad internet connection to leave the meeting early. 

Embracing change with AI

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 videoconferencing, 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 when remote working and social distancing have become part of our lives. This can be done through advanced facial emotion recognition and eye-tracking technology, which are used to capture and analyse interactions over video in real time, and enhance engagement between people. By detecting eye movement, facial expressions, attention spans, and essential demographics, the technology can be used to pick up on cues that people may have missed, as well as teach speakers how to better engage audiences so that they feel heard during video calls.

Automation can also resolve customer service issues more quickly, especially when dealing with technical matters (e.g. installation, troubleshooting). It can also provide on-screen transcription so that audiences can easily understand speakers with unfamiliar accents during calls or presentations. This can help develop deeper connections with customers/clients, and aid in closing sales or business deals.

We still have a long way to go in making 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 a new wave of transformation that helps users feel more understood, as it conveys non-verbal communication accurately, prevents distractions during calls, and maintains motivation and engagement.

Collectively, we can transform the use of video calls into a more 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.