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What’s threatening voice communication today?

In today’s tech era, is there still a place for voice communication? All living organisms communicate. Whales sing, birds chirp and dogs bark. Even plants talk to each other via fungi. As humans, we talk on the phone, face to face, through emails, web chats, video calls and more.

What makes us stand out is our use of technology. It’s how we elevate the way we communicate. Thanks to telephones, webcams, and the internet, communication is now instantaneous. We talk with more people than our physical and geographic limitations would otherwise allow and with mass media, our voices are amplified.

Tech innovation has done great things for communication. It’s safe to say it’s made us more aware of the world – and made it easier to stay in touch with friends and family everywhere. However, technology giveth and technology taketh away.

While new tools have given us faster, more convenient ways to communicate, they’ve also made a number of old tools almost redundant. Think telegraphs, facsimile, or – for millennials – speaking on the phone. Smart phone usage may be on the up, but actually, making a call seems to be losing popularity.

Yet that’s not to say voice communication is becoming obsolete. Rather, it’s being complemented by other technologies.Instant chat may be gaining popularity, as seen in the surge of messaging apps usage, but it’s not quite replacing voice. Voice chatbots are revolutionising customer service thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) – with voice still very much at the heart of the tool. Natural language processing enables the robots to deliver conversation-as-a-service, with nuances in human speech picked up and addressed. While machine learning means the chatbots can better identify a customer’s needs the more they’re in use. Other benefits include:

  • Conversation with a customer can happen anytime, anywhere and on any device
  • Customers don’t need to wait around for a live agent
  • AI means mass personalisation is possible
  • Greater levels of analytics to mine
  • Should chatbots struggle to find the right solution, calls can be forwarded to a real agent

Such technology has the potential to substantially enhance the customer experience, while providing huge savings to businesses through automation. And it still all runs on voice communication. In fact, our research found that 73% of businesses think voice calls have unique qualities and are being underutilised on the whole. Tech innovation could change all this.

But we’re not quite there yet. For now, convincingly conversational technology is in its infancy. A human-first approach in 2018 still requires a human touch.

This is why voice communication is still the most important channel for customer service, especially when situations require delicate care. It’s not hard to imagine unhappy customers with limited patience. They’re unlikely to wait around for an answer. Instead, they’ll be demanding a rapid response from whoever they’re dealing with. It’s no wonder then that many businesses see voice as the most favoured method of communication for a number of activities.

According to our research, this includes opening up conversations for the first time, dealing with complaints and negotiating contracts. Voice communication is also the most used daily communication channel by businesses, with 85% of employees saying they use the phone every day and 74% saying it’s their preferred channel.

So, despite all the new technology popping up everywhere, voice communication is going nowhere. The popularity of voice-activated devices in the home, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home also hint towards a voice-positive picture. Consumers want to talk. Smart businesses need to listen up.

Is your business is losing it voice? Read our eGuide for advice on how to capitalise on the power of voice communication