Back to News & Events

Why voice is still a critical communications channel

In this installment of our customer experience (CX) series, we are taking a deeper look at the voice channel.

Let’s talk. Why voice is still a critical communications channel.

When it comes to customer service, consumers want choices. This desire is the reason why the CX industry has ushered in a variety of newer technologies over the past several years – from chatbots to the ability to communicate with customers through social media and more. Yet, while all of these communication channels are used daily – and for good reason – one method that continues to top many consumers’ lists is the ability to talk on the phone.

People like to hear a voice on the other end of the line, especially when it comes to more complex issues or situations when an empathetic or understanding person is needed to help navigate a situation. In fact, 71% of Baby Boomers (which just happens to be the second largest population group in the U.S.) and 41% of Gen Z prefer to start their customer service journey by talking on the phone. Even those consumers who are uninhibited by newer technologies like live-chatting with bots, do so with one caveat: they want the ability to transfer to a live human, if needed.

Fortunately, there are several options when it comes to leveraging the voice channel. The key is understanding what to look out for when embracing the power of the phone.

10-digit long codes (10DLC)

We are well accustomed to using this type of number since it’s the typical phone number used for wireline and wireless, as well as personal, residential and business phone calls. While the length and format vary by country, in North America they are always the same. The phone number starts with a “1” for the country code, followed by 10 digits; hence referred to as 10-digit long codes (10DLC).

Using 10DLC for outbound customer service calls can be tricky though, since more than 75% of calls coming from an unidentified number go unanswered. This means that businesses need to ensure that their Caller ID and security practices are up to snuff.

Much of this can be accomplished by adhering to the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR)/Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN) framework, which is designed to verify the integrity and accuracy of calling number data. This verified information further helps phone companies’ ability to identify and stop illegal calls and spoofing. As a result, legitimate calls aren’t mislabeled as spam and consumers are more inclined to pick up their phones – saving businesses both time and money, while being able to effectively engage with their customers.

Toll-free numbers

Toll-free numbers are similar to regular, 10-digit long code telephone numbers in length and format and can also be used for both in- and out-bound customer service. For businesses, one big benefit of using toll-free numbers is that one phone number can be promoted nationally but the calls are routed locally, which helps elevate brand recognition, reduce routing costs and improve customer service.  

As with 10DLC numbers, verified caller ID is important for ensuring that consumers have the confidence to pick up the phone, while also protecting them from fraudulent activity. This is why, in 2022, an advancement in the nation’s robocall mitigation efforts was made so that telephone calls coming from toll-free numbers can now also be vetted and authorized using the SHAKEN framework. Now legitimate organizations that rely on toll-free numbers to reach people have a new way to combat illegal robocallers and other fraudsters looking to corrupt this important channel, which is especially important for hospitals, schools and other legitimate organizations that need and deserve to have their calls receive the highest level of trust from consumers.

Callback Services. Ideal for call centers, retailers, government agencies and any other organizations, a customer service callback feature gives consumers the convenient option of leaving a callback number instead of staying on hold. While this has been a game-changer for both consumers and businesses, unfortunately, this CX feature has also become a target for telephone fraud—with retailers and other businesses losing an average of $1.82 billion annually to callback fraud, according to the Communications Fraud Control Association. This is because businesses are unknowingly calling premium rate numbers that the fraudsters entered for the callback number.

That is why knowing which numbers are legitimate, and which ones are not, is so critical in proactively combating telephone fraud. Businesses that use iconectiv® TruNumber Protect, for instance, have access to a comprehensive, continually updated database of high-risk and unallocated telephone number ranges worldwide, to enable them to easily  identify high-risk numbers, which empowers them to thwart communications fraud, such as one-ring “wangiri” scams and PBX hacking. Integrating this telephone fraud-fighting solution with existing fraud-management tools and processes, allows fraud management teams to quickly and easily decide which traffic to block and monitor. It also allows CX, fraud and risk-mitigation teams to work more efficiently and effectively to boost consumer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.

The voice channel will always be a mainstay. The key is in ensuring that it remains a trusted one for consumers and businesses alike.

In our next article, we’ll take a deeper look at messaging and why it should be an integral part of your contact center blueprint.

In the interim, if you’re interested in learning more about the numbers that matter, contact us here.