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Leading with empathy and emotional intelligence has never been as important in business as it is right now.

Customer loyalty benchmarks and expectations are being set by brands that communicate and adapt customer experience in a nimble, agile way. If brands fail to do so—and quickly—they risk customers feeling uninformed, lost, or uncared for, which will result in an increasing gap with competitors that over time may become too large to close.

Humanization is the new personalization, and customers look for brand messages that reflect that. Relevant, empathetic, valuable experiences can evoke emotion, trust, and positive sentiment. When you pair data-driven content with emotional resonance, the experience also compels action and deepens customer connections.

Personalized CX can be challenging. Consider video: It has always been the medium that brands want to use more frequently, but incorporating video into a unique CX can seem daunting and unrealistic.

Video is easy to digest: It is engaging and entertaining, and it is widely accessible via mobile devices. It conveys a story like no other medium, using both verbal and visual communication. But in a fast-changing world, video can have a short shelf-life and become quickly obsolete, which makes it difficult for companies to justify high production costs.

Still, some brands create YouTube channels featuring countless videos that just sit there. Why are marketers giving away opportunities to create more valuable customers? Videos pushed out to customers on owned channels—whether on a brand's website, on a portal, or through email—are where you can use what you already know about a customer to deliver higher engagement, depending on the contextual relevance of the channel.

When you want to know how something is done, today's knee-jerk reaction isn't to find the user manual, it's to search YouTube. Video is what people want, and companies that harness B2B video marketing right to improve CX will get ahead.

Video marketing takes customers through change

Companies today must focus on ease, effectiveness, and emotion, according to Forrester's 2020 Playbook. Customers want helpful information, fast, and they aren't moved by generic content.

The video-powered experience (VX) has become its own segment of digital CX because of video's unique ability to convey empathy and emotional intelligence, deliver easily consumable messages, and effectively connect on what is perceived as a personal level.

VX is now being employed by savvy brands for an array of engagement purposes that ranges from customer acquisition for digital and growth marketers, to value education for product marketers, to explanations of processes such as billing for customer marketers. It's become particularly useful for welcoming and onboarding new customers, because creating a behavior when the consumer is likely to engage is a lot easier than getting them to change how they do things further down the road.

As an example, if a customer has long relied on your brick-and-mortar location, or even your website, getting them to start using the costly new app you developed won't be an easy sell. The hoped-for increase in user adoption, marketing potential, targeted sales, customer support, and process improvements all can be erased simply because habits are tough to change once a person is used to doing something a particular way.

The opportunity to establish the right digital behaviors from the start should not be overlooked. That's why, especially in the current socially distant climate, major brands are applying VX to drive engagement and strengthen relationships.

What's more, people once hesitant to test the digital waters are now diving in. They had to learn to interact with brands digitally because of the pandemic—whether it was buying groceries or depositing a check via an app—so the benefits have become clear. Now, those once-reluctant digital converts are demanding all companies provide the same level of experience.

Companies unable to take customers through such change or demonstrate how easy it is to use their services and tools will be sending business to their competitors in the year ahead. The right VX can pull prospects deeper into your digital resources and bring your tools to life, and that's why brands are increasing their investment in video marketing.

Video marketing makes it personal

Most brands have a B2B video marketing strategy, but it's often siloed from their CX strategy, and it often doesn't resonate with viewers. Brands using platforms to push static, stale content fail to consider current and future customer needs. Those that have continued with that approach come off as out of touch.

But how do you make change with a static, linear video that has already cost significant money to produce? Redo the entire asset every time the world incrementally inches closer to normalcy, which in fact may never return?

CX practitioners should begin to atomize and deconstruct their content in order to use it in dynamically modular ways. By doing so, individual pieces can be updated quickly, which aligns content velocity at the speed of shifting customer needs and expectations.

A good example of ways that B2B technology companies can use VX to their advantage is when onboarding new clients. Within a single client account are various types of tech users, such as administrators, power users, supporting users, and billing contacts. Each user has different goals and priorities for platform usage, so a first step can be communicated with modular video content that can be repurposed with varying messages based on each persona's goals.

For instance, first steps for an administrator might be focused on highlighting the products and number of licenses purchased, adding users to the system, and connecting any business application integrations. A billing contact might receive similar messages around products and number of licenses purchased to set expectations on annual costs and payment terms.

From there, the B2B video experience can communicate advanced steps to day-to-day users based on the actions they take to get the most value from the platform, and therefore set them up for success. Topical video content that already exists in your knowledge base or help center can be pushed out based on users' behaviors—or lack of action—to highlight features not yet adopted.

To take it up a notch, companies can use customer data to create a personalized VX that contains only information relevant to that person. That is particularly easy with established customers because you already have an in-depth relationship and data points. Deep data is not a requirement, however; you just need the technology and flexibility to get the most out of the data you possess.

Climb aboard with B2B video marketing

You can have the best services in the world and offer the greatest products, but if new customers have problems using or accessing them, they'll be frustrated.

The previously mentioned onboarding material also gives you a springboard for another major part of the business that saw an uptick during the pandemic: customer support.

The pandemic hit industries in many ways. In telecommunications, Charter Communications provided an example of an interactive VX that was able to overcome a new issue: technicians' inability to enter homes for installation.

Charter knew customers wouldn't watch a 15-minute video on setup if all they were looking for was help on how to program the remote. So it broke up all the self-install topics into brief, issue-specific video chapters. Whatever the problem—whether connecting a router or dealing with that remote—customers could select the most relevant topic in the VX, handle the issue promptly, and tune in without having to endure a painfully long installation video.

As a result, Charter greatly reduced cancellations, truck rolls, and inbound call volume. It also started its customer relationships off on the right foot with a VX that brought customers aboard simply and safely.

That's the type of smart solution companies will need. After all, face-to-face service is yet to return in full, and because the VX approach is yielding operational benefits, it could be offering a glimpse of the future. Why wait hours for an installer when you can easily do it yourself?

Customer support can also use video to educate users on any changes to their account service and related costs. B2B technology companies with holistic customer journeys shouldn't neglect VX to enhance those touchpoints.

VX offers opportunities to convey changes to user accounts, especially if renewal charges are higher than expected because of higher usage, or because new user licenses were added in the previous period. Explaining such changes via video, coupled with conveying the value the customer has received over the last year, simplifies the renewal moment for recurring platform subscriptions and solidifies a positive customer experience for all product users.

Video moves us toward an engaging future

Brands don't want to come across as insensitive right now, and that can make recommendations and promotions tricky and inauthentic. For instance, you don't want to be a credit card provider aggressively focusing on perks tied to international air travel while people are still reluctant to travel.

United Airlines was sensitive to the pandemic when it launched a VX to educate and celebrate members of its MileagePlus loyalty program. Pre-pandemic, its focus might have been urging members to take another flight within the next 30 days to achieve Gold Status in the program—maybe via a video of stylish airport lounges and customers happily interacting in person.

Obviously, that type of content would have fallen flat when members were wondering whether flying was even safe. Video content showing what to expect— what safety initiatives are in place and how to prepare for travel—was what they wanted most. And so, the airline adjusted video scenes and messaging accordingly, resulting in a video marketing program that enhanced brand loyalty while still allowing outreach.

The right VX approach can help brands transform customer frustration and concern into active engagement and positive outcomes. Make no mistake: As the year ahead unfolds, companies that continue to sit back and wait for a return to the past instead of moving forward could end up sacrificing their future.

More Resources on B2B Video Marketing

Five B2B Video Marketing Tips to Boost Sales in 2021

B2B Video Content: Top Goals, Formats, Channels, and Challenges

The Surprising Place Where Text Content Is Thriving: Video in a Mobile-First World

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image of Rachel Eisenhauer

Rachel Eisenhauer is VP of marketing at SundaySky, a platform for video-powered experiences that inspire customer action. SundaySky enables step-change results and value from increased revenue, reduced costs, lower churn, and higher customer satisfaction.

LinkedIn: Rachel Eisenhauer