Be careful to account for vanity in video technology

ConfusedsmDale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, wrote, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures …motivated by pride and vanity.”

Pride and Vanity need to be accommodated when rolling out new technology. Consider the advent of two way video conferencing, a technology that has been credited for cutting travel costs down for companies with a scattered footprint. But the use of them for customer interaction in the general public has so far been more on the wildly enthusiastic evangelism side without a lot of real experience yet.

Is video conferencing the answer to bank branches? It sounds like just the ticket for an industry trying to cut costs. It could create what feels like the perfect mix between local touch and central efficiency. Don’t ruin it by forgetting vanity. Remember, this is the Customer Experience era, or as I like to put it, a Customer Engagement revolution. Making sure your precious clients are not uncomfortable while asking a question should be high on the experience checklist.

Consider your own vanity – do you use video conferencing for your business interactions? With 300 million users of Skype, and more with access to Apple’s FaceTime and Facebook’s Video Call, chances are pretty high you have access to video calling.  If so, have you ever used it to connect with someone you did not know exceedingly well already? Ignore family and friends – are there any types of people left whom you would talk to on Skype with the video turned on? Why or why not?

How do you feel about video conferencing? If you fill out this simple 2 multiple choice 20 second survey, you will see how others have answered: (this survey is not statistically significant – but it is quite interesting.)

Vanity is the pesky behavioral trait that makes people explain why their car is not in pristine condition whenever they give a ride to a business associate. The insidious side of vanity is that it distracts the client, and complicates the conversation. It may lead to people rushing through or not asking everything they want to know. This can reduce the value of the call for both sides. In general, it introduces an annoyingly consuming factor into a bank interaction  “Do I look professional enough?” “Does that blemish stand out?” “Do I look heavy?”  Laugh if you wish, but these take up a lot of effort, make people uncomfortable, and could very easily undermine any attempts by the banker to move the conversation to a cross sell opportunity – which is one of the key reasons banks are even doing this.

Here are some vanity accommodations that banks should consider:

  • Have a non-video option. Have a phone next to the video too, with clear explanation that the customer has a choice.
  • Visual confirmation needed? If the bank’s authentication steps require a visual image of a customer, consider a short clip option that is less intrusive, and inform the customer the bank is taking it.
  • Make the space appear friendly to the shy consumer. Don’t set it up so the person can sit without feeling like a TV News anchor about to go on the air.
  • Have a mirror. Allow people to see how they look before they go “on” and make it at least partially protected from public view so people can prepare in privacy.
  • Include an explanation as to what the bank will do with the video. Many banks will keep the recording and should be transparent about why.

But, you ask, they are already being routinely filmed at ATM’s now, what’s the big deal? An unobtrusive surveillance camera in a bank, casino, street corner, or traffic stop has become common and expected. Maybe video conferencing will become so commonplace that people ignore it. It won’t happen any time soon, if ever.

Vanity outpaces convenience – just look at fashion’s more uncomfortable accessories that never go away.