- Despite the growing popularity of video and messaging, voice remains a key communication tool for colleagues and customers.
- ‘Voice’ now covers multiple platforms and technologies – all of which need managing.
It is understandable that companies such as Google and Facebook will promote marketing lines suggesting text- and video-based forms of communication are the future while traditional and cloud/IP voice-only services are old hat. And, to a certain extent, they are correct. There is no doubt that as the millennial generation enters the workplace, the preferred methods of communication and collaboration are changing. The change is also not confined to the youngest people in the workplace. RingCentral Glip and Microsoft Teams groups are a standard part of many peoples’ daily work routines. But, this doesn’t mean that the humble voice call is a thing of the past.
It’s Good to Talk
Vodafone provides a useful example of the enduring importance of voice. It is perhaps unsurprising that a global mobile network operator would promote the importance of voice, but the context of Vodafone’s example is away from its mobile heritage. Vodafone is a keen promoter of AI chatbots and interactive voice services within its own customer contact setup. It has used this technology to reduce the headcount at its own contact centres in the UK significantly. However, Vodafone has also underlined the need to maintain the human element.
There are a number of factors that justify Vodafone’s belief in the importance of voice: firstly, although the millennial generation favours different technologies, the UK (and much of the West) has an aging population and those older generations still prefer traditional voice. The older generations also tend to have more disposable wealth, so they often represent an important segment of many companies’ customer bases. Voice conversations also allow for a better understanding of the issues under discussion. For customer contact, this can enable a better ‘first time fix’ rate if more complex enquiries are routed to human agents.
Video also has the potential to tap into people’s inhibitions. At the most basic level, home workers (a growing percentage of the workforce) may not feel they are dressed for a video call, or they may feel the background environment of their home office may not be appropriate for a corporate video call.
Whose Voice Is It Anyway?
Enterprises should also be aware that they are also managing a growing range of different voice services. For example, there can easily be PSTN, IP PBX, mobile, conferencing and shadow IT (e.g., WhatsApp calling) services running within their business. Enterprises need to consider three key factors across all these services: cost, quality and security. Cost and quality are often interconnected: Enterprises should consider which employees and circumstances require the highest quality or merely best effort services. Working with service providers with advanced SIP trunking portfolios can deliver the most efficient results and reduce complexity. Similarly, increasingly advanced mobile clients can mean that mobile devices are more integrated with the fixed voice/UC components of the corporate IT estate. Features such as ‘dual persona’ phones can also be used to support a BYOD environment and manage costs.
Security is a trickier environment that cannot be discussed at length in this blog. But, enterprises should be aware that services such as WhatsApp may not be GDPR compliant and audioconferencing may be a more secure environment than sharing data via group collaboration platforms.