COVID-19 radically disrupted everyday life in 2020, almost instantly transforming the way we work, learn, shop, bank, and receive healthcare. Video communication helped shape the "new normal" for people around the world, keeping them connected and having meaningful interactions with businesses. But what does the future of video look like in 2021? Recent findings from the Vonage Global Customer Engagement Report can give us a clue.
Video Communication Exploded in 2020
Before the pandemic, Vonage research consistently showed that customers already favored video for interactions in which they wanted a personalized experience or situations in which they had a complex problem to resolve. Then, video chat among consumers exploded, as in-person interactions were suddenly restricted and it became clear that voice and text weren't always ideal for certain conversations.
As a result, the U.S. experienced an astonishing four years of growth in video chatting in only seven months, from January to August 2020. Forty-three percent of Americans are now regularly video chatting with businesses, up from 28 percent in January 2020. More people than ever now say video chat is their favorite channel for connecting with businesses—a 140-percent increase over that same period.
5 Video Communication Trends for 2021
The pandemic didn't impact all industries in the same way, however. Travel and leisure ground to a halt as the coronavirus spread across the globe, while telehealth and remote learning emerged as safe alternatives for healthcare and education during the public health crisis.
Here's a look at which industries benefited most from video advancements in 2020, how customer behaviors adapted during this time, and what lasting changes we should expect to see in 2021.
1. Retailers Will Offer Sophisticated Ecommerce Experiences
Consumers demonstrated a growing preference for video chat when shopping online throughout 2020. In January, five percent indicated video was their preferred channel for receiving and replying to order updates and tracking deliveries. By August, that figure doubled to 10 percent. Likewise, in January, six percent of consumers preferred to hop on a video chat when asking simple questions, such as store locations, or completing basic tasks like reordering or returning an item. By August, a full 10 percent leaned toward video communication for these interactions.
As we look toward 2021, the trend toward online shopping experiences—including those facilitated by video interactions—will likely accelerate. Retailers whose businesses were focused on brick-and-mortar sales had to quickly adapt to drastic changes wrought by the pandemic, whereas companies that already had strong ecommerce presences were able to navigate the disruption with greater agility. One clear trend we can expect to see is the unification of offline and online shopping experiences, and video will no doubt be a key part of making that possible.
2. Distance Learning Will Play an Important Role in Education
Distance learning took off in a big way in 2020, as students began receiving online instruction during the pandemic. Whereas 35 percent of learners opted for video when engaging with other students and teachers in a virtual classroom in January, 42 percent of them picked video for the same purpose in August. Students also found video useful for getting fast answers to simple questions—eight percent preferred video for these exchanges in January, while 17 percent did by August.
As 2021 dawns, distance learning will still play an important role in safely supporting access to education across the globe. Live video adoption has been instrumental in enabling this transition, opening the door to digital tutoring for enterprising instructors and helping educators maintain continuity in education with virtual classes. While significant work must be done to make online instruction fully accessible to learners of all abilities, we can expect remote learning to remain central to education in the new year and beyond.