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4 Things Teleconferencing Companies can do to Handle the COVID Growth
The teleconferencing industry is experiencing major growth during this pandemic. As access to offices vanished because of lockdown measures, many workers have transitioned into remote work — working from the safety of their homes. Netskope reports that the number of people in North America working from home has doubled this year when compared to last year.
This means more people are using video conferencing software and other remote working tools. Zapier says that 49% of people who transitioned to working from home recently use a teleconferencing software.
The number of meeting participants on teleconferencing app, Zoom, has risen from 200 million in March to 300 million in April. Microsoft’s Skype has seen a 70% increase in usage with 40 million daily users. GoToMeeting saw a 10 times increase in usage since the start of the pandemic. Video conferencing companies are enjoying a boom. But video conferencing growth has had its share of downsides.
Let’s dive into the problems video call companies are facing because of the sudden increase in the use of this type of software.
Major Problems Teleconferencing Companies Face
Increased usage may bring more revenue and carve out a bigger market share. But it is fraught with issues.
Here are some problems facing teleconferencing companies in today’s world:
1. Poor Audio and Video Quality
Falling audio and video quality as well as regular outages are frustrating video conferencing users. This has become a common occurrence as countries locked down to combat the novel coronavirus spread. Workers at home are heavily relying on teleconferencing tools to stay connected and collaborate with teammates.
With more people using teleconferencing tools, quality has been affected. Spearline reports that audio quality fell by 23% in South Korea in January. China experienced a 21% drop in call quality in the same period. Frozen images, echoes, tinny sounds, choppy audios, problems sharing screens and more have plagued workers working from home during this pandemic. Highfive found that 37% and 40% of video conferencing users experienced video and sound issues. And background noise distracted 67% of video meeting attendees. For example, Zoom with its 300 million meeting participants has run into issues as users have reported several outages and audio problems on the platform as reported by Down Tracker.
Drops in overall quality of audio and video make it hard for teams of remote workers to collaborate effectively. This affects their productivity especially if meeting outcomes determine the next steps and projects.
2. Bad User Experience
Many first time remote workers are grappling with video meeting software which have unintuitive interfaces and are not user friendly especially for first timers. Navigating through the stresses brought on by the pandemic and using a non-intuitive software has led to minor embarrassments and frustration. For example, several workers have appeared on calls in pajamas or shown off messy apartments because they can’t figure out how to turn off video during an online meeting. There are also cases of meeting attendees trying to figure out how to mute themselves at inopportune times.
While turning off video or muting your audio may seem minor, it does speak to how unfamiliar and unintuitive video conferencing software can be. And this may affect rapid adoption after this pandemic is over.
3. Lack of Trust
The biggest hurdle video conferencing companies have to overcome is the lack of trust that users have in their software. And this lack of trust is not unfounded. Security and privacy breaches have become common since lockdowns have forced workers worldwide to work from their homes.
Calls being routed through China for users not located in China. Zoom raids where uninvited people invade meetings to post graphic pornographic and anti-semitic content. And users’ data being compromised and posted on the dark web for bad actors to use and disrupt meetings.
The many issues plaguing video conferencing companies security- and privacy-wise have led several countries including India, Australia and Taiwan to ban government officials from using Zoom. These issues have made users mistrustful of teleconferencing companies.
4 Ways Video Conferencing Companies Can Fix These Problems
Problems present an opportunity to not just fix these issues but to show customers that your video conferencing platform puts them first and remains committed to providing great service always.
Here are some ways you can tackle current issues and reassure customers in one stroke:
1. Improve Infrastructure
Increased demand from users means your software infrastructure may not handle rapid growth without going offline. These outages can leave your users, both new and old, feeling frustrated with your service. Improving infrastructure by strengthening your data centers and cloud infrastructure to handle more users as well as more engineering support will make it easier to stay online to provide service.
In addition to improving your infrastructure, be transparent with customers about potential outages and service issues.
We don’t like negative surprises. As we are highly focussed on the present, we get frustrated if a product or service we want to use is unavailable. We could even look for alternatives. By telling customers in advance about expected outages, there is less of a surprise. Customers might still get frustrated because they forgot or ignored the message. Yet, on average, the frustration should decline by warning customers as they expected this would happen (unless the outages occur too often).
A simple banner with messaging about current technical difficulties on your website will go a long way towards reassuring your customers when there are outages and other issues. Use social media as well to help disseminate information rather than leaving customers to wonder what is going on.
2. Test User Onboarding Steps
If users are visiting your support articles to troubleshoot simple issues already covered in your new user onboarding for your video conferencing software, it may be time to test your user onboarding flow.
Again, Ruben De Boer says:
The only way to know for sure is to do research and experiment. Start by checking your data. Which step(s) in the onboarding flow result in the highest number of users dropping off? How much time do users spend on each step in the flow? From what steps do users click back to the previous step (if this is possible for your flow)?
Next, do qualitative research. For instance, by having users go through the onboarding flow in a usability test, you can find possible issues. When conducting this, also check the steps a user has to take before they get to the onboarding. If they first need to create an account, which costs a lot of (mental) effort, users might be too depleted and may not start or complete the onboarding. You can also ask the users (in a poll, for instance) about what they like and dislike about the onboarding process.
After that, use your research insights for experimentation. Test both ability and motivation issues. Make it as easy as possible for the user to complete the flow. For motivation, make sure the core value is (immediately) clear and matches the user’s needs. Make it user-centric. This will make it more relevant for them, therefore, increasing the motivation to start and complete it.
Research your onboarding process to see where there may be potential issues for users. Your onboarding flow may be too long making users feel demotivated to complete it. Your onboarding process may also lack enough information leading to confusion for users, especially those rushing to join a meeting for the first time. Use usability testing and polls to ferret out onboarding issues.
Then A/B test solutions to improve the rate at which people go through onboarding. You can even experiment with nudging users who skipped tutorials and onboarding steps to retake them at a later date.
Also, you can also use your support articles to find the most visited articles and use these to inform new features or simplify existing features to make using your teleconferencing system more intuitive.
3. Regain Trust
Consumer trust lost through security and privacy issues can be regained. Many security and privacy fixes will require feats of engineering. But users already expect this of you.
Lack of trust is generally alleviated if you find out what your audience responds to most. A segment of your audience may respond to reviews and case studies. Another segment may care more about the expectation of what it will be like when buying the product. Or It may be a combination of those items.
Always look for a way to add proof and set expectations so customers know what to expect with your product, warranty and guarantees. Adding these elements is generally a win if you carry the consistent message throughout the buyer journey.
With your fixes in place, don’t just apologize in a blog or social media post and move on. Take a different approach to let customers know you have fixed the problem. You can A/B test adding security and encryption badges across your entire funnel to assure customers. Another thing you can do is to be transparent when issues arise and test simple banners spotting the name of the issue and how soon it will be fixed across multiple pages on your site. This way customers know your company is doing its best and putting them first.
4. Help Users Get More From Your Teleconferencing Software
Many users are struggling to stay productive as they work from home and collaborate with colleagues via online video meetings. You can help users stay productive and get more value from online meetings by being proactive.
Justin Christianson says:
The faster you can get your visitors using the product, the better. This can come in many shapes. One key way is taken from a friend of mine – they sold supplements. They were having a big refund issue and most of the bottles were still full. So, they just put the focus on sending videos and reminders to new customers on how to use the product, the benefits of it and case studies of other users. That constant reminder and hand holding cut the refunds in more than half and increased the retention of subscription customers.
Features like active noise cancellation from Google Meet can help prevent distraction. There are low hanging fruits like publishing content and guides that can help your users get the most out of your teleconferencing software. For example, Zoom publishes articles targeted at workers new to video meetings. GoToMeeting does the same with video meeting etiquettes for both new and old hands at video conferencing. These can help users stay productive as they use your teleconferencing platform.
There are two major obstacles that can really impact your productivity, and they become especially obvious when working from home for the first time.
Your first path to productivity success is to manage your notifications. It’s easy to get sucked into having all your notifications ON and responding to them ASAP. Unless this is a requirement of your job, you’ll never find the time to do actual work that requires a depth of focus. It’s a rookie mistake to conflate answering the dings with real work! If you’re worried about forgetting to check notifications, set a timer on your computer and use that to manage notification check-ins.
The second key to your novice foray into remote work is to know your tech! Your company determines the software you use and the level of access you have. You should aim to become an ace with every software you work with. This gives you control of the environment that will connect you and work to the outside world.
Poor habits, scheduling, management and company culture don’t solve themselves by working remotely. Good remote work is simply good work, done remotely.
Teleconferencing growth has enabled the world to shift towards a new way of working, teaching and learning. To keep this growth past the Covid-19 pandemic, take a user-centered approach in fixing issues and providing the best service. This will ensure that users who become customers during the pandemic will stick around after it ends.