We have all read the reports – in the digital era, customers want omnichannel communication; millennials are unwilling to interact over voice; pure-play call centres are a thing of the past, etc. But is this trend truly overarching? And does this mean voice as a primary inbound/outbound medium is no longer relevant?
The answer is a definitive NO.
Voice continues to be a critical component of contact centres (for several reasons, as we will discuss), and research confirms this.
Voice is the Dominant Medium Across Regions and Cultures
The rise of non-voice channels isn’t uniform. There are factors like age, technology literacy, culture and local infrastructure involved, which means that non-voice digital channels are still out of reach for many. As per research, phone or other voice services dominate communication channels in the US (44%), Brazil (33%), Germany (57%), Japan (30%), and the UK (31%), ahead of all other mediums.
In fact, it is the only trend they share.
But this does not mean that other channels are not important. A recent survey by Twilio found that email is almost as important as voice, and customers want to be able to switch between the two seamlessly. However, channels like social media or chat are yet to reach the same level of ubiquity.
Four Reasons for the Continued Rule of Voice
- US Millennials prefer digital, but they do not comprise the majority of the global population
Myths surrounding the “death of voice”, has a lot to do with studies conducted in the US. while just 16% of millennials prefer voice, this is just 1.8 billion people in a global population of over 7.5 billion. Further, there are cultural differences between millennials across the globe, leading to varied preferences and communication habits.
- Telephony infrastructure is still ahead of digital connectivity
Internet connectivity is yet to reach its full potential, demonstrated by the pandemic, which stained digital infrastructure and caused widespread outages last year. In contrast, telephony has been around for far longer and is more mature, able to stand up to unpredictable events, demand spikes, and the challenges of remote connectivity.
- Customers are eager for one-on-one connectivity
Even if we look at digital channels like social media or chat, the impetus is for one-on-one connectivity with a live agent, NOT an automated bot or answering service. Voice agents promise the reassurance of an in-person conversation, allowing the customer to gain from cues such as the agent’s tonality, way of speaking, and the sense of closure that comes with voice conversations.
- Language barriers hold back access to digital channels
English and a handful of other channels form the majority of online content, making online self-service, FAQs, documentation, etc. inaccessible to a vast majority of the global population. Just 7% of the world’s languages are reflected in online published material, which means that localised contact centres are the only communication options for those without working knowledge of English.
Therefore, as you invest in channel blending and omnichannel capabilities, voice should still be a top priority, even getting a leg up through enabling technologies like VoIP.