Contact Center Trends

The Biggest Reason Voice Support Isn’t Decreasing

By Alison Jarris

0 min read

To help understand the modern contact center industry as thoroughly as possible, the team at Talkdesk reviewed Deloitte’s 2017 Global Contact Center Survey. The survey asks contact center executives about the state of their contact centers now and where they think they’ll be in two years, so it’s a valuable resource for us to map out the future of the industry and see how our product fits.

We’re used to seeing predictions that voice support will decline, but in Deloitte’s survey, there are some concrete numbers that illustrate what is expected to happen. The biggest insight is not simply that voice support will be replaced by chatbots and social media; Deloitte actually maps out the projected shift in the mixture of support activity, assigning each channel a current and future percentage of activity.

he predicted drop in voice activity still leaves voice as the unquestioned king of support channels. At the time of the survey, voice support accounted for 64% of contacts, 3.5 times more than the next most-utilized channel (email at 18%) and more than 10 times as popular as any other channel after that.

When the survey participants predicted the channel mixture for 2019, they still expect voice to be the most popular channel — 3 times more than the next most-utilized channel (email at 16%). While there are certainly gains predicted for video, SMS, social media and chat, all those channels added together are only expected to account for 33% of all contacts, noticeably less than the 47% of activity that will happen on voice calls.

Keep in mind that these are predictions, and are likely to overestimate the implementation of new technologies. A year ago, 2017 was designated as the “year of the chatbot” but at the time of the survey, only accounted for 6% of customer contact.

The decline of voice contact is always something that will be forecast, but likely won’t happen for quite a long time, if ever. If contact center executives are curious about the staying power of voice, the explanation lies a bit later in the same Deloitte survey. In the portion of the survey that covers channel diversity, survey participants evaluated communication channels on their ability to handle simple vs. complex interactions. Not surprisingly, voice was deemed capable of handling the most complex issues. No other channel even came close to competing. The empathy and creative problem-solving ability of a human agent is irreplaceable for challenging support issues.

In addition to acknowledging that voice support is capable of solving the most complex issues, a whopping 66% of all respondents said they expect contact center volume to increase, with 85% of those respondents also predicting an increase in issue complexity. With contact centers expecting more and more complex issues from customers, we might actually see a rise in the volume of voice support.

At Talkdesk, what we see when we look at the future of customer interactions is an increase in the customer’s ability to self serve. But the issues they’re resolving on their own are the simple interactions that traditionally happen via chat, SMS or even email. Anything that can be done with a simple algorithm or a binary flip will be built into the self-service UI. The communications that are happening by phone are the ones that are complex and urgent, require human creativity and flexibility, the types of things that technology can’t replicate.

The important area of focus for us is not really on what percentage of customer interactions happen through voice, but on allowing our customers’ customers to use the channel that matches the urgency and emotion of their issue. Talkdesk is an omnichannel offering and is constantly coming out with new tools through AppConnect that allow our customers to send and receive communications from customers on their channel of choice. Sometimes that’s voice, sometimes it’s SMS or even video. We believe that the best way to determine your channel mix is to offer a range of options and let the customers determine the right volume for each. Their actions speak louder than anything.

To learn more about the changing voice support landscape and how your company can adapt to new trends, click the button below and set up a call with one of our experts.

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Alison Jarris

Alison was Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Talkdesk. When she's not writing and editing she's probably running in the Presidio or reading Haruki Murakami.