*This article is an excerpt taken from Spearline's Whitepaper '2020 Global Telecom's Report'.
Businesses continue expanding their contact channels, and inbound voice is sometimes seen as outdated in this omnichannel world. Yet the inbound voice is far from obsolete. It continues to be the primary customer contact channel and (according to recent research by Call Centre Helper's article 'The Future of Voice in the Contact Centre') is expected to remain an effective channel until 2034.
While the days of contact centers managing only voice channels and emails are gone thanks to the rise of omnichannel contact centers, voice assistants, and chatbot services, the development of IP telephony has greatly benefited contact centers to handle extremely high call volumes while maintaining the highest levels of voice quality.
However, there is a question that is on every businesses mind: "Is Voice being superseded?"
While there has been a lot of hype around digital channels like live chat, messaging apps and social media – amongst others – only in 16.2% of contact centers do total digital contacts exceed voice contacts. While another 11.5% of contact centers are expected to get to that point by autumn 2021 and a further 26.9% of contact centers will likely reach that point by 2024, voice will still remain the preferred mode of communication. After all, a vast majority of us, no matter what age, prefer human assistance when a problem is complex, emotional and must be resolved quickly. Sytel Limited's Marketing Manager, Jamie Stewart, stated:
“Try as we might, voice and its emotional, empathic qualities will never be replaced. We are, after all, only human.”
In addition, other AI systems are being used more frequently. About a third of contact centers have implemented process automation technology, and 7.8% have implemented speech biometrics, indicating a significant increase in adoption of all AI-based technologies since late 2019. In 2016, only 5% of contact centers had voice biometrics implemented. By 2020, voice biometrics has seen a significant increase, rising to an impressive 7.8%, and continues to grow. Voice biometrics records a unique imprint of a caller’s voice, and since all voices are unique, they can be analysed by software that can quickly determine authenticity.
As shown in Fig 1, from the data compiled by Call Centre Helper’s 2020 Autumn whitepaper survey “What Contact Centers Are Doing Right Now”, a vast majority of contact center professionals (84.1%) believe that the take-up of speech analytics will also continue to grow over the next five to ten years. Organisations worldwide see the importance of customer experience to their business. And where customer experience is a priority, voice quality must be too. Proactive management of voice channels is a necessity. Poor audio quality could result in inaccurate analytics or, worse still, the inability to utilize the data contained within a call. Implementation of speech analytics can require a significant initial investment. It should therefore be supported by ensuring strong network quality at all times.
Fig 1. Survey taken from What Contact Centers Are Doing Right Now
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