Why CX can't afford to hang up on the voice channel

For years, we’ve heard the phone is going the way of the rotary dial. Yet despite the meteoric rise of digital, customers still crave a human voice for support.

Why? Because customers value effectiveness over efficiency. And recent research reveals the voice channel remains the gold standard for problem-solving.

In a sea of robotic chatbots and impersonal messaging, a real human voice can provide rapport, empathy, and reassurance. It cuts through the noise in a way text struggles to match. 

Phone dominance defies expectations

You’d think with the growth of messaging, chat, and self-service that voice interactions would plunge. But the voice channel still handles about 65% of contact center traffic in the US and UK.

This persistence surprises many. We’re told millennials and Gen Zers are allergic to phone calls. Yet they too gravitate to voice, especially for solving complex issues.

So why does voice dominate? 

Because for customers, it delivers unmatched first-contact resolution – a top satisfaction driver. In a recent survey, consumers ranked first-contact resolution as a priority. In speaking with them, it was clear real-time problem diagnosis and reassurance by phone can’t be replicated.

In the UK, younger groups valued politeness and convenience. But older groups prized short queues and one-call resolution above all. In the US, older customers similarly prioritized quick, comprehensive solutions.

Voice enables agents to investigate issues and reassure customers in the moment – something digital channels struggle to match.

Voice fixes problems, but needs fixing too

Unfortunately, current voice channel metrics lag. Since 2017, UK speed to answer rose 253% and US speed rose 46%. Abandonment and cost per call also increased substantially.

Yet customers endure this friction because they trust voice will solve issues. In fact, the UK’s preference for phone calls to solve complex and urgent matters grew during the pandemic, despite digital gains.

Why? In uncertain times, the voice channel offered security and solutions.

Up to 27% of UK and 39% of US digital enquiries still require phone follow-up for full resolution. Voice remains the standard for untangling multi-layered issues. Effectiveness wins over convenience.

It’s time to reinvest in voice 

Our research in partnership with ContactBabel challenges assumptions that digital channels innately improve CX. And it suggests that the value customers get from voice isn’t fading anytime soon.

So how can contact centers nurture voice capabilities alongside digital? 

The future of voice is digital

Since customers tolerate phone frustrations for the sake of resolution, refocusing on the unique value of voice paired with digital upgrades is key. Contact centers can deliver what customers want, human connection and the fast resolution of problems, while also striving to bridge the insight gap and delivery improvements with the help of AI.

Phone persists for a reason. For true omnichannel mastery, optimize digital solutions that enhance the performance of voice channels.Want more insights on why voice reigns in customer service? Get instant access to our free white paper ‘Voice: its place in a multichannel world’ today.