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5 reasons enterprise voice communications are broken today

Discover how unified communications can — and should — work to streamline workflows and improve the entire voice experience

Chris Radanovic

April 05, 20235 minutes

AI-generated image of rotary phone, illustrating broken enterprise voice communications

In today’s world, time is a precious commodity, and consumers want to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, the experience of calling a brand for help can be frustrating, time-consuming, and sometimes downright infuriating. From long wait times on hold to complex and confusing IVR menus, broken enterprise voice communications leave consumers feeling disenchanted and unsupported.

Reason 1: Synchronous communication is stale

One of the most significant issues with voice today is the synchronous nature of this type of business communication. Consumers are forced to dedicate precious time to call a brand for help. Once on the line, they are greeted with hold music, often for extended periods, exacerbating the feeling of frustration and wasting their valuable time. Even worse, phone calls can be disconnected, transferred to different agents, or even lost altogether, forcing the consumer to repeat themselves and the entire process again.

Reason 2: The IVR menu maze

Adding to the problems with the voice system, IVR menus are often complex and irritating, with consumers struggling to navigate the seemingly endless options. The menus never seem to have the option they need, and they are left hitting “0” repeatedly until they reach a human agent.

Reason 3: Repeat, repeat

Moreover, the voice recognition technology used in these systems is not always effective, leading to further frustration for the consumer. Often the system doesn’t understand their speech, leaving them to repeat themselves or get stuck in a loop. Consumers can end up making the wrong selection or being redirected to the wrong agent or department, further adding to their dissatisfaction with voice services. More often than not, we see significantly lower customer satisfaction in the voice channel when compared to digital messaging channels.

Reason 4: Soaring costs

Another significant issue with broken enterprise voice communications is the high cost of maintaining and operating the outdated telecom infrastructure required to support it. Traditional voice systems are notoriously inefficient, relying on expensive equipment and infrastructure that can be costly to maintain and update. As a result, enterprises are often burdened with high costs, which can be passed on to consumers in the form of increased prices or hidden fees. These high costs can also hinder enterprises from providing the level of customer service that their consumers expect, resulting in further dissatisfaction and decreased customer loyalty.

Reason 5: The data disconnect

Yet another challenge is the disconnect between voice data and digital messaging data. Many consumers today use multiple channels to communicate to brands, such as calling and messaging simultaneously or abandoning one for the other while waiting for a response. Current analytics applications do not effectively identify this channel hopping behavior, making it challenging for businesses to manage their multi-channel workforce.

So why don’t we just drop enterprise voice communications altogether?

icons illustrating the 5 reasons enterprise voice solutions are broken
The 5 big issues with an enterprise voice solution

Despite the many issues associated with enterprise voice systems, voice continues to be the predominant channel for most consumer-to-business communications. In fact, according to industry reports, phone calls still account for a significant majority of the overall customer service interactions, with only a fraction of volume handled through digital messaging channels. Furthermore, enterprises continue to spend a considerable amount of money maintaining their voice infrastructure and advanced call features, with the total dollar spend on voice technology and operations far exceeding that of digital messaging channels. This heavy investment in voice comes at the expense of digital messaging, which is often seen as a lower priority or add-on to existing voice solutions.  

However, some conversations require a more sensitive approach, where empathy and human connection are crucial. Voice allows enterprises to improve communication with a more personal touch, particularly for customers who may be vulnerable or in distress. Additionally, specific demographics, such as older customers, may prefer voice as it is more familiar and comfortable for them. Finally, voice communication also is often necessary for escalations, where complex issues require a higher level of expertise and problem-solving ability.

Unified communications: Pulling the broken pieces together

puzzle pieces illustrating how unified communications can fix voice services

With the rise of digital-first consumers and the increasing demand for seamless and integrated customer experiences across all channels, enterprises must rethink their approach to customer service and invest in the modern conversational AI technologies that can enable them to improve cost while providing a more efficient, cost-effective, and satisfying customer experience.

Here are a few ways brands can fix these frustrating voice systems:

  1. First, they must connect their data sources and platforms, enabling a more integrated and seamless approach to customer service and conversational intelligence. This integration requires the adoption of modern conversational AI technologies that can synthesize voice and digital data, identify channel-hopping behavior, and provide a more personalized and efficient customer experience (and better team collaboration too!). 
  2. Second, enterprises must provide channel flexibility, allowing customers to communicate through their preferred channels, whether voice or digital messaging, while encouraging consumers to engage on the best possible channel to resolve their intent. 
  3. Finally, enterprises must automate their customer service operations, moving away from the complex and frustrating IVR systems and towards voice AI that can provide fast, efficient, and accurate customer service.

The broken voice system continues to plague the customer service industry, and while many have tried to fix it, few have succeeded. However, there are some clear steps that enterprises can take to address the issues. By taking these steps, enterprises can provide a modern and satisfying customer experience with truly unified communications, building customer loyalty, and gaining a competitive edge in the market.

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