How a Voice API Delivers a Better Customer Experience
Customers aren't looking for transactional relationships with organizations — they want conversations. And although they have a wide range of channels to pick from when having those conversations, voice is still one of their most preferred channels. When customers reach out to call centers, it is crucial organizations have optimized their technology to make sure customers aren't frustrated. Here's why the quality of the call directly affects customer satisfaction and how a voice API can elevate the customer experience.
Why Is CX Important?
A smooth and satisfying customer experience (sometimes abbreviated as CX) is absolutely necessary for any company that wants to avoid customer churn, remain competitive, and accelerate growth. Customers are keenly aware that they have choices, and their increased usage of digital channels during the pandemic has raised the bar on what they consider a great customer experience. According to research from Forrester, customers are 2.4 times more likely to stay when companies solve their problems more quickly. Related to that, customers are 2.7 times more likely to spend more when companies communicate clearly. If customers perceive that the company is not committed to addressing their challenges or that it is simply unable to, they will start looking for another business that can.
A prompt solution is of course important, but it's not everything. The quality of the communication matters very much, too. When companies have meaningful and productive conversations with their customers, they are far more likely to see an uptick in revenue compared with those that do not. Especially as customers' digital lives have expanded, and they've begun using a wider variety of communications channels than ever to engage with companies, they've come to see good communication as an essential ingredient of any successful relationship — whether that's with the people they know in their personal lives or the brands they do business with. This is where voice APIs come in, enabling the high-quality conversations that are key to an excellent customer experience.
What Is a Voice API? What Are Its Capabilities?
Voice APIs are flexible technologies that your company can use to create a richer and more conversational customer experience. Rather than having to develop sophisticated voice calling features from scratch and build out a best-in-class global telecommunications network to support them, your developers can use the built-in, enterprise-grade features of a voice API to quickly create voice applications or embed voice functionality into your company's existing digital channels, like your website or your app. An API is cost-effective, as well, allowing you to pay only for the voice calling you actually use.
It's important to note that while voice APIs provide voice calling just like the business and consumer phone systems of old, their capabilities are not nearly as limited. This communications technology is flexible and extendable, and you can customize it to meet your unique requirements. For example, you can use voice APIs to create an AI virtual assistant, offering helpful voice-enabled customer service that is always available, day or night, even when human agents are already serving other customers or fast asleep. And because a virtual voice assistant reduces the total volume of incoming customer support calls, customers who prefer to speak with a human can do so much faster.
You can also use a voice API to build voice directly into your website and app, giving them a convenient option to talk directly with you at the very moment your brand is top of mind. This in-app voice capability can also be embedded into your contact center, delivering crucial call context to your agents, so they already understand what the customer is calling about without having to ask them to repeat key information — something customers particularly dislike doing. Voice APIs can also perform real-time sentiment analysis, accurately detecting whether a customer is becoming frustrated and giving your company an opportunity to resolve their pain points before escalating their call. Your contact center team can also review these analytics on a regular basis to identify areas for improvement and continually raise the bar on the customer experience.
What Are the CX Benefits of a Voice API?
Voice APIs can help you better identify and serve your customers, so that you can make sure their concerns are heard and addressed. By capturing contextual information, your human customer experience professionals know who's calling and why they're calling — whether their call came in via your website, your app, or another channel. This contextual communication allows your team to personalize each conversation with each customer, reducing the time required to get oriented and accelerating time to resolution. It also creates an opportunity to have natural conversations that put your customers at ease and improve their satisfaction.
The automatic speech recognition features of voice APIs give your customers easy self-service options, allowing them to take a range of actions like placing orders or authenticating their identities using their own voices without having to wait on hold for a human. What’s more, this feature includes support for more than 120 languages, enabling timely service and an intuitive, comfortable experience for customers all over the globe.
Privacy is increasingly important to many customers, and it should be a given as part of the customer experience you provide them. The in-app voice feature connects users from app to app and via phone without disclosing their phone numbers, which improves privacy and avoids off-platform transactions. And lastly, voice quality is key to making all of these experiences reliable. That's why voice APIs include high-grade voice quality that delivers the best calling quality for your applications. This is critical because, as we'll see, even the most innovative and forward-thinking customer experience approach will not succeed without excellent and reliable voice quality.
How Voice Quality Affects the Customer Experience
When customers reach out to your business, they often want to do it via voice. According to Vonage's Global Customer Engagement Report 2021, 56% of respondents said a mobile phone call was their favorite channel while 25% said a landline or voice over internet protocol (VoIP) call was their preferred route for getting in touch. A quarter also indicated a willingness to make a voice call using messaging apps. While chatbots, text messaging, and even email still have important places in customer communications, voice is an essential channel for engaging your customers.
Accordingly, it's essential to make sure that your call quality is top-notch every time your customers reach out, regardless of how they place the call. You may have only one opportunity to get it right, too. According to Zendesk's Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, more than 60% of customers are willing to walk away from a business after just a single bad experience. Even the most knowledgeable, empathetic, and well-trained call center agent can't make up for poor mobile, landline, or VoIP call quality. If your customers take the trouble to call you only to get a patchy or unreliable connection, they may decide it's not worth it and move on to your competitor.
How Improving Call Quality Benefits the Business
Have you ever called a company, heard the connection go through, and then instantly heard a crackling sound on the line that made it difficult to understand what was being said? Or have you called a customer support line and started telling a friendly agent what you needed only to get disconnected all of a sudden? Then you already know what poor call quality can feel like. When you are unable to hear your counterpart on the phone, you're immediately at a disadvantage in getting the help you need. And if your call is suddenly dropped, you'll have to decide whether you want to start all over again.
Customers find these common voice quality concerns incredibly frustrating. If they're not able to have a meaningful conversation with you using one of the methods they find most human and natural, then they're not going to think your customer support is helpful or responsive. In fact, they may even wonder if your organization values the customer experience enough to invest in its success. If your customers come away from a call with these perceptions, then you may lose the opportunity to earn not only their business but also their referrals to other potential customers.
Organizations can't afford to let poor quality sabotage the customer experience. According to Vonage's research, the customer loyalty breaking point now arrives sooner than ever. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents say they are very likely to stop buying from a business or using its services if they repeatedly experience frustrating interactions when communicating (or, in this case, attempting to communicate) with a business or service provider. Forty-six percent of customers will do the same when faced with communication dead ends.
How a Voice API Improves Call Quality
Communications APIs can help organizations resolve these mobile, landline, and VoIP call quality concerns. With access to a carrier-grade network and global connectivity to tier 1 carriers, an API voice call can deliver the quality of service that customers expect. Voice APIs from a trusted partner with direct peering connections to all major carriers in the U.S. eliminates intermediaries and improve voice quality even further.
What's more, voice APIs can consistently deliver these quality-of-service benefits at scale — even during peak periods or as the business grows. These performance improvements allow your organization to improve contact center quality, making sure that your customers never experience a patchy or unreliable connection when they call you. That way, when they connect with your customer service team, everyone involved will be able to focus on what's most important: the customer's needs.
Because voice APIs often require minimal coding, your organization can quickly embed these capabilities in your app, website, and other digital presences instead of having to build them from the ground up or waiting to have expensive circuits installed. This flexible technology can coexist with telephony systems as needed, and since you only have to pay for what you use, it's a cost-effective way to begin adding more sophisticated and reliable calling features to your customer experience.
A voice API opens the door to innovation in ways traditional voice calling never could — for example, by sharing contextual information that personalizes the customer experience and makes it more conversational. That's something that, according to Zendesk's latest report, more than 90% of business leaders and managers acknowledge their organizations will have to do.
Improve Your Customer Experience with a Voice API
Customers seek conversations with your organization, especially using voice technology. At the same time, their expectations for an exceptional customer experience have never been higher. Rather than a transactional interaction, they seek a natural and comfortable dialogue when talking with you. It sounds so simple, but clear communications make the difference in whether they remain satisfied and open to doing further business with you. A hiccup in call quality or a disjointed, impersonal exchange can quickly affect customer sentiment. Voice APIs enable the meaningful conversations your customers expect, even in creative ways they might not have imagined before. Far more than a conduit for delivering a phone call, voice APIs are a strategic asset for improving your customer experience.
Learn how you can lead the conversation and deliver a better customer experience with the Vonage Voice API.