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From healthcare insurance companies to banks and government agencies, brands operating across diverse verticals share a common challenge: a poor customer experience can undermine trust in the brand and negatively impact contact center workforce productivity.

The omnichannel experience is now table stakes for the modern enterprise seeking to engage with customers and citizens via voice, web, email, text and social. Leveraging the complex web of end-user touchpoints requires first understanding customer communications preferences. Different age demographics, for example, have varying expectations and habits that must be factored into any customer engagement strategy.

Having a thorough understanding of communication preferences must then be matched with technologies to enhance the customer experience. For the voice channel, this investment is critical. A 2022 HubSpot survey found that 57% of respondents prefer calling a company by phone with email a distant second. So as brands continue to smartly invest in strengthening the omnichannel experience, the endurance of the voice channel will continue to be a critical component in the customer experience. Branded calling technologies can drive enthusiasm for receiving a voice call from an enterprise which will be able to help improve engagement, increase call agent efficiency and productivity and reduce time on unanswered customer calls. While some issues can be solved by various channels, it’s clear from the survey that only certain interactions can be solved via the voice channel.

Brands Challenged by Erosion of Trust in Voice Calling

Unwanted, nuisance calls have significantly hindered trust in voice calls as 70% of Americans never answer a phone call from an unknown number*.

That lack of trust in voice calling has been damaging to brands and their business operations. When legitimate calls go unanswered, call center agents become far less productive. If agents fail to reach their target customers or government agencies cannot connect with citizens in a timely fashion, those individuals are forced to call support lines in an attempt to return calls. While most call centers now offer ‘call back’ services that keep a customer virtually in line without them having to wait on hold, this process is tedious and can result in a significant amount of time before agents can get back to the customer.

Long wait times and excessive call attempts can lead to a frustrated customer – an outcome that can harm brand perception and sales conversions. Failing to engage the customer on the first call can create a negative customer experience that businesses will try to avoid.

The cost of bad experiences is prohibitive and undeniable. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report indicated 59% of US consumers will not buy again from a brand they love after several bad experiences, while 17% would walk away after just one bad experience.

To facilitate better customer engagement with the voice channel, call centers have been branding their outgoing calls.

A Way Forward: Branded Calling

The interest in voice channel technologies has led many organizations that rely on efficient contact center operations to branded calling. It helps them restore trust in voice calling and engage their customers by enabling organizations to present critical incoming call information to the customer, so recipients have a better understanding of who’s calling. That way, consumers can engage with the wanted calls and ignore the unwanted ones.

Branded calls help improve call agent productivity, facilitate an improved lead-generation process and drive revenue to the business’s bottom line. While potential customers often conduct due diligence on a company’s product via other channels, contact centers are utilized to convert warm leads into sales or manage customers at a point when the call experience can make or break the relationship. Any disruption in reaching and engaging consumers via the voice channel represents a breakdown in contact centers’ lead generation process. With branded calling solutions, call agents can convert more leads into sales, helping to drive more revenue.

For brands that rely on contact centers to help drive a superior customer experience, restoring trust in voice won’t be easy. But the numbers don’t lie; 70% of US adults would answer a call if they recognized the brand logo/name on their incoming call screen*. Keeping the voice channel core to the omnichannel experience, and leveraging emerging technologies to maximize that channel, will go a long way toward rebuilding trust.

Jim Tyrrell is Vice President of Enterprise Product Management at TNS with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.

 *Kantar Survey – November 2022