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Global CX Trends: Voice Communications are Here to Stay

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In its Autonomous Customer 2020 report, based on a survey of 6,000 online consumers across 12 countries, global services provider BT provided some interesting insight about how consumers around the world want to interact with businesses.
 
Is the Voice Contact Center Dying?
Many pundits have predicted the demise of the voice call for contact center interactions, but I disagree. Yes, contact centers will slowly replace some agents with voice-enabled interactive voice response (IVR) and voice-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) systems. But not all will disappear because we’ll still require well-trained agents to handle the high-value and complex calls from customers who can’t or won’t work with a self-service website.
 
And customers will still call in, communicating with automated response systems – so their voices won’t disappear, either.
 
In its survey, BT reported:
• 74% of respondents called a contact center in 2019, up from 64% in 2015
• 81% of respondents want agents to perform more complicated tasks rather than chatbots, up from 74% in 2017
• 80% of respondents expect organizations to employ AI and automated voice services, up from 67% in 2017
 
How Does Webchat Fit in the Contact Center?
In my experience, webchat hasn’t always been successful. One time, I waited 10 minutes for a response before finally giving up. So, I’m cautious of the use of webchat. The BT survey investigated the application and use of webchat.
 
Two of my webchat preferences are the ability to see the conversations on my screen and have a written record of the webchat. BT reported that 55% of today’s respondents liked this capability, an increase from 49% in 2015.
 
The younger the customer (16 to 43 years old), the higher the webchat preference. That includes making secure payments over webchat or messaging; 47% of this age group responded favorably about making payments over this channel.
 
BT also reported that 48% of respondents would rather use webchat than a voice call when on a website, which means that 52% still prefer calling into a contact center.
 
Does the Customer Believe in the Technology?
I’ve worked with computers and networks for a long time. So, when I see positive marketing hype on TV, I’m skeptical. I wonder what the marketing message is leaving out. Such skepticism can influence the customer experience. A very frustrating experience results when customers must restate their account details as they pass through a contact center interaction, a problem reported by 67% of the BT survey respondents.
 
When asked about customer experience, respondents said:
• They don’t like long waits for their verification when they call into the contact center (60%)
• To reduce the wait time, customers would like use of voice biometrics (81%)
Do Outbound Calls Work?
The huge number of robocalls has created a situation where most people don’t answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers. My home phone robocall solution allows me to block these calls after the first ring. Yet, I still get calls as the robocallers change their phone number identification. Legitimate outbound calls are frequently ignored. Some surveys have reported 20 to 44% of outbound calls are unsuccessful.
 
Outbound calling is still valuable in some use cases, however. BT learned that 87% of respondents desire notification if there’s a problem with a product or service they’re using.
 
There is a tremendous shift in consumer behavior, and this behavior is fueling the CX trend, but they still want to talk to a human being. With all the advancements in technology, there’s the risk that one day this won’t be possible. One constant will remain - as everything in our lives becomes increasingly voice-enabled, brands will be able to communicate better.

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