By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- How many times have you just wanted to speak to a real customer service person on the phone, but instead you get a computerized voice asking for account numbers or asking you to respond "yes" or "no". Well its happened to most of us. But as 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan found, customer service is getting a makeover. More and more companies are connecting you to a "real" service person, who you can actually see.
Video chat customer service is what sold Ariel Rubinstein on ordering his glasses online. When they arrived, he logged on to video chat with the shop's optometrist. Rubenstein says, "It was definitely cool and a big feature. If I had any concerns that was very comforting to me." Mason Eyewear's new video chat feature lets them see eye to eye with customers, and it's quite popular. Matthew Chrycy, Doctor of Optometry, says, "Being able to explain or demonstrate certain features or frame design or shapes or things like that definitely gives us a much greater opportunity."
In fact video chat customer service is growing across the country. Mark Johnson of the Loyalty Marketer's Association says, "They're valuing the customer so they're realizing spending a little more to make customers happy is less expensive than acquiring a new customer."
American Express recently launched a video chat pilot program. A real person is right on the tablet, waiting to help. Todd Walthall of American Express says, "We've had customers who have taken the iPad and introduced our customer care professional to their family members. We want to be able to provide service in a way customers are living and they're living digitally"
At Hertz Car Rental locations pick up a phone on one of their office terminals, and you can video chat with a real customer service representative. Ricardo Herrerias says, "The face to face interaction benefits the customer by creating a personalized experience and minimizing the wait time."
Rubenstein says video chat customer service certainly works for him. He says, "I never have to leave home to get a new pair of glasses or try on a new pair of glasses, I can do it all from my computer."
By the way, you may want to ask the company if your video chat session is being recorded, and if so, ask how the recording will be used.
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