As technology continues to play a larger role in our everyday lives, businesses across the country and around the world look for ways tap into those same tools to improve efficiency. In many cases, technology can seem superfluous. However, as it matures many competitive advantages present themselves. Improvements like cloud storage allowing access to important files across multiple devices and Twitter, which many thought to have no business value is now allowing companies to learn customer pain points in real-time. If it presents an improvement in efficiency inside the company as well as improving a customer’s experience externally, it is a win-win for everyone.

For small businesses, improvements in customer satisfaction can mean the difference between survival and becoming another also-ran. As a company grows and has more opportunity to invest in technologies, it can create a clear advantage over competitors and allow the company to separate itself from the pack in the minds of its customers.

One technology that has already made its mark in the business world is video. It is back for another round, though, with a focus on customer service this time. For years call centers have been a way for companies to offshore customer service and inflate the bottom line. More recently, however, customers have started to demand more from the companies they do business with and the spotlight has fallen on customer service. Having real help in real time is valuable to customers. American Express and Zappos are two names that often are mentioned with great customer service. Amazon took things to the next level by introducing Mayday, a one-touch video call with a live customer service agent.

Of course, the big companies get the big press went they do new, exciting things. That doesn’t mean they are the only ones, though. Many other companies see the writing on the wall and know that providing great customer service boost customer loyalty and improves the bottom line. Here are four small businesses that are using video calling to make life easier for customers and are enjoying the benefits that come with it.

  1. One major challenge for small lawyers and law firms is talking to clients who are spread out across a large geographical area. Taking time to meet with clients, especially for the initial consultation, can be a large burden on a lawyer already pressed for time. If a client can’t come into the office for any number of reasons, a lawyer in need of clients is forced to commute, using valuable minutes, even hours, with only the possibility of landing the job. Video conferencing is changing all of that, as the Kennedy-Mighell Report discusses. They cover the challenges they have experienced with video calling clients and the rewarding experience it delivers to both attorney and client.
  2. Children of the 1990’s surely remember visits to the bank drive-through fondly. A mysterious voice coming from seemingly nowhere, a space machine-like tube that shot your parents’ information back and forth with that invisible voice, and in the final transaction a treat was there without fail. Visterra Credit Union in Moreno Valley, CA wants to provide that same amazing experience, with a new treat for the adults.

When one pulls up to the drive-through carport at Visterra Credit Union aren’t only greeted by a high-tech machine, but there is also a smiling face looking back ready to help with any questions. Automation in customer service has long been the trend but not at this credit union. By providing a live agent to help answer questions, Visterra is able to help customers complete transactions quickly, improve the customer experience, and increase loyalty. And, by using video streaming, the team can all be in one central office while serving all branches as demand ebbs and flows. Customers are able to build a personal relationship with his or her regular teller, but Visterra doesn’t need to staff every location with excess employees.

  1. Drive-through banking isn’t the only way to reach customers who need help for banks. North Shore Bank in eastern Wisconsin is delivering the same live agent help through its ATMs. North Shore has branches spread throughout the Milwaukee metropolitan area, but that doesn’t mean a customer can’t see the face of his or her favorite teller if a problem comes up. Instead, North Shore has a team of video tellers in its headquarters in Brookfield ready to assist customers at any ATM.

While traffic at physical locations has been in decline for years, due to an increase in internet banking, North Shore still wants to provide customers with the human touch of a local bank no matter where the customer goes. Plus, it reduces the irritation many customers feel when they have to wait in line to speak to a teller as a walk-in customer.

  1. Speaking of walking, one of the biggest frustrations with furniture shopping is walking from store to store, comparing prices and trying to compare features from one mattress to the next. Tuft & Needle recognized this problem and decided to start an online shopping store for mattresses. As many other retailers were already in the space, the company needed something else to differentiate from the crowd. The difference is the ability to have a pre-sales video call with an expert.

One of the most important decision points when searching for the perfect mattress is testing it out. Doing this online becomes difficult and Tuft & Needle doesn’t disagree with showrooming. However, to help the online customer, it has a live video call option for customers to ask questions and allow the agent to prove the claims made online. Sales and customer loyalty have increased, helping the company become a leader in online mattress sales.

There’s an old adage in customer service that a real person, whose smiling face a customer can see, always wins. Why not let technology deliver that smiling face to put a smile on your customer’s face?

How could your company incorporate video calls into its customer service offering to improve customer satisfaction?