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Is Voice Chat the Future, While Phone Calls are Dying a Death?

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It’s a long-drawn debate whether phone calls are dead and voice chat is the future. In the world of real-time engagements and multi-channel communication, users are not thinking about what works better, they go and pick up a channel that is prompt and more convenient to communicate from where they are.

Chat as a medium to communicate has already won over phone calls because it gives us control over our conversations, and that’s what we humans love and (naïvely) enjoy the most about it. Remember the times when you have to talk to someone you don’t want to? Chats come in handy in the events of conflicts too so people are using them more.

That said, for businesses, the role of chats has evolved on a different scale!

From addressing customer queries to building customer relationships and retention, chats have come a long way.

Whether it’s a quick chat on a website or inside the app, all that matters today is customer experience. And rightly so, because we live in the era when more than the product, features or service, customers look at who’s responding fast to their concerns and solving them faster – ultimately, who cares for their happiness. Voice chats make it easily achievable for all kinds of businesses.

While studying the impact of voice chats over other mediums, I came across some interesting facts making it loud and clear why chats matter more than phone calls, take a look.  

·       35% of US smartphone users check their phones more than 50 times a day

·       65% of smartphone users have game apps on their phones.

·       Apps account for 89% of mobile media time, with the other 11% spent on websites.

In a world where people are giving so much time and attention to smartphones and apps (to be specific), how do you not think that phone calls are dead?

  • Chats come with numerous features other than voice that make them more engaging and convenient for users.
  • People like to communicate more within apps, be it while gaming online or hanging out on social media platforms.  
  • Switching from the app to the phone call list, and wait for someone on the other end to pick up the call and reply is neither captivating nor engaging. While leaving messages or voice notes and getting back to reply when possible, sounds easier.

If we talk about the consumer side of it, customer support is quickly changing forms to cater to an ever-expanding technology of communication. Businesses are offering direct customer support through Twitter, Facebook posts and direct messages on various platforms.

The tendency of users to go to in-app messaging for most of the conversation, be it with a friend or a seller forces marketers to lean on messaging to improve brand engagement these days. Can an archaic medium like phone calls be still relevant?

Well, it can be!

When it comes to real-time customer support, call and chat both have a high-value proposition. Both offer something the other can’t. And both have an audience that will ride for it. Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly, to find the real champion of the battle.

The Old School Champ: Phone Calls

Phone calls have been around way longer than chat, and have a massive following from the average customer. The thing is phone calls are a medium, pretty much every generation alive is comfortable with. According to Talkdesk roughly 60% of customers still choose phone calls for support.

Telephonic calls give the consumer the ability to vocally express their problem. This is something that naturally comes to any human being. And, since people are more used to giving vocal cues to find a solution for their problem, phone call remains a convenient option for many.

However, businesses fulfilling customer support with just telephonic calls obviously require more manual labor, and resources to keep it running as such. Phone calls from customer support and success perspective only become a preferred channel of communication when an agent knows what they are doing and other factors such as response time, average waiting time, etc. Sometimes telephonic calls that maintain a friendly tone of voice receive higher ratings from customers even if the problem at hand has not been solved. But, phone calls that solve the problem with a rude tone of voice have seen lesser ratings

 The New Bloke on the Block: Voice Chat

Now, when we refer to chat, there is no one particular way to look at it. From the infamous chat rooms of the 90s, to now automated live chat options. Chat is an ever-growing, ever-expanding medium of conversation and business communication as we know it. Although it doesn’t bring the old school charm and vocal cues of calls, billions of us are using it all over the world.

benefits of chat communication - messaging is convenient on the go

Voice Chats are quick, super-efficient,  and like a friendly robot. It has no wait time or the unbearable on-hold music. And this is definitely a boon for it.  The reason behind the fan following for live chat is introverts who hate talking to other people on the phone. Just kidding. It is because of the impeccable accuracy, multiple communication features and speed of voice chat conversations. Consumers can instantly get their problems solved without spending much time. And, business owners vouch for it because everything is automated. The labor cost is drastically less given the performance output.

Even in cases where support agents provide support through chat, they have the ability to switch between multiple chats at once. Businesses, in fact, have developed communication hacks like whispering to work as a team to provide efficient support through chat. Sending whisper messages reduces the overall wait time for the consumer as the problem gets solved quickly.

And in case one agent doesn’t have the expertise for a matter, they can easily pass on the baton to another expert agent in an instant. Unlike calls, where the holding time is high because the other agent needs to be completely free to take up the call. Chat transfers are seamless and quick. Since the previous chat is available word for word for the new agent to read or hear, they don’t have to bug the customer for information again.

What Takes More Effort- Phone Calls or Voice Chats?

Well, well. Hands down, calls demand more effort, both from your consumers and the agent. The calling experience is hardly as quick as teams want them to be. Also telephonic call requires articulate expression, which entails certain effort, and many of us tend to avoid it in certain circumstances. Whereas most of the articulateness on a live chat is automated and thus supports expression.

Voice chats are effortless when the consumer is seeking a quick response for a small problem. But, to be fair, when the consumer has a long-drawn problem that has a lot of nuances attached to it, chat can be an absolute nightmare. It can be extremely stressful to break down a big problem word for word on a chat box, but the ability to share images and files saves the day. Getting to the bottom of a problem quickly is possible with chats, given the collaboration features that come along, like, 

  • Secure file sharing
  • Audio conferencing
  • Screen sharing
  • Chat Records
  • Stickers, Emojis, GIFs

 Also, chat generally requires much less effort and is extremely efficient in solving most problems. The added benefit of using chat with customers is that the support channel is on your website itself, so the consumers don’t wander off into abyss seeking a solution.

The Universal Titan: Chat

How many times have you been mapped to a customer support agent whose accent you couldn’t understand for the life of you! How many times? Telephonic customer support is without a doubt expensive, and that’s why most businesses outsource customer support to call centers in other countries.

When it comes to chat, even if the customer support agent is talking to you from Mars, nothing is lost in translation. This is the genius of the internet today; people have been connecting via chat across borders without worrying about the language. Even when an expert is able to articulate a solution only in their native language, they can easily use a translator to give you the best solution. Real-time translators on chat are offering a window of opportunity to technically sound agents to offer the best solutions to their customers. To do this for audio is a little tricky as of now, and we are still getting there. But for now, chat truly serves the world.

Be Proactive with Your Users

Here’s the deal with customer handling. The number one rule today is to be proactive. Not reactive. Proactive. To be proactive means to address a problem before it arises. This takes a level of intuitiveness and response as such. As a business, even if you have a team of proactive agents, it is just too expensive and intrusive to start calling your clients before they have a problem.

However, with chat, this is extremely easy and welcomed by most customers. Triggered chat invitations when a consumer is vaguely searching for solutions are extremely helpful. Say, your customer is going through the FAQ section, they are obviously facing a problem! And if an intuitive chat bot pops up right there and then, it offers your customer a responsive service experience. Over time, this adds to your brand value.

So who wins?

Well, neither. Both of them are necessary to create a healthy customer support system. At one point, many organizations have tried to rid themselves completely of telephonic calls, only to end up including audio files in chat. That is just counterproductive.

An omnichannel approach can guide you to success – offer live chat within your mobile and web app and see a drastic decrease in the need for telephonic support, and resort to phone calls only for certain issues.

To sum up, I’d say, if your target audience is well versed with the nuances of chat, and can express themselves perfectly through chat messages, be it voice or text, even for big problems, you can definitely say chat wins. For those dealing with a slightly different crowd that isn’t as comfortable with chat, and find calling more comfortable: phone calls can be your solution.  

Shalini is a content creator (and an aspiring yogi) busy telling product stories and exploring the tech genius behind them. Her love for communication keeps her sane in this ever-disruptive world - hence she writes!