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When you think of video chat for customer support, what springs to mind? It depends who you are.

If you’re in marketing, adding the ability for customers to chat with you live from your website is nothing new. Adding video chat is a little more cutting edge, but still something that might be on your to-do list.

For the rest of us, you might have experienced Amazon’s Mayday support on its Kindle Fire tablets and much-maligned Fire Phone, or been offered the chance to share your thoughts on a business via Skype.

But the problem with video chat for customer service is that it is incredibly difficult to use it in any environment where customer authentication is important, such as banking or financial services.

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But today, Miami-based experts network LiveNinja — which has received funding to the tune of $1 million in the past three years — has announced a partnership with Accelerated Growth Partners bedfellow Kairos to solve that very problem.

The authentication method in question? Facial recognition.

I first saw LiveNinja’s technology, and specifically its Katana video chat product, at Web Summit in Dublin last year.

“I see Katana as Amazon Mayday for any website,” Will Weinraub, CEO and cofounder of LiveNinja, told me. And that is exactly what it looks like when you see it in action.

LiveNinja-Katana-video-chat

Clicking the “chat with us” button on a Katana-enabled website launches a customer directly into a video chat with a representative of that website’s company. But what if you and your team are unavailable?

“When a customer support representative isn’t available, we pop up a recorded video message and a form,” Weinraub said. “This provides a nice backup solution, and allows you to connect with the client afterwards by scheduling a call.”

It also acts as another conversion point for your website, since anonymous visitors with a question — prequalified leads, you might say — give you their details to continue the conversation.

There is also a holding queue if you are online but are already taking more calls than you can handle, which helps keep customers informed.

But it is bringing Kairos’ facial recognition system into LiveNinja that takes this technology to the next level.

Aimed at banks initially, customer support representatives will now be able to identify and authenticate their customers within video chat, ensuring they are indeed who they say they are.

Once a caller has been connected to a bank via video chat, Kairos’ technology can capture facial features to recognize and verify customer identities.


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“It’s all about trust,” said Brian Brackeen, CEO at Kairos. “After someone’s identity has been verified, the bank can then offer a wider range of options to better serve the customers.”

“Banking has always been a face-to-face business,” said LiveNinja’s Weinraub. “It’s a very personal transaction and one that can be extremely complex. With our video chat platform, banks can now serve their customers online while maintaining the human, personal touch that is so important for this industry.”

The implications go beyond banking and financial services.

With Katana’s ability to integrate with CRM systems and Kairos’ facial recognition, it isn’t a big stretch for the technology partnership to offer companies the chance to bring up a customer’s complete relationship record within seconds of them starting a video chat and determine whether you’re talking to that customer or a relative who might be using the same account.

Is that a level of marketing personalization too far? We’re not quite sure yet, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to study that at VB Insight, and we’ll bring you the results later in the year.

In the meantime, LiveNinja, with its Katana solution, and Kairos, with its facial recognition technology, can help those companies that need extra levels of authentication bring video chat to their websites, helping to keep identity theft in check.

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