Is Your Voice Network Ready for the Growth of Virtual Assistants?

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Andrea Mocherman

As consumers, most of us are familiar with virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant to help us track down information, make calls and order groceries using just our voices.

In fact, a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers found that as owners of virtual assistants become more familiar with their devices, they are “speaking more, and clicking less.” For example:

  • Nearly 90 percent (89 percent) of respondents use their intelligent voice assistant every single day.
  • Nearly 60 percent use them to accomplish tasks they previously would have done on their smartphones (i.e., “typing and swiping”).
  • Nearly a quarter (24 percent) reported that they were making more calls to businesses than they previously did, and 35 percent reported making more calls to friends and family with their virtual assistants.

Ease and convenience are two of the main factors driving the use of virtual assistants to place phone calls. As a result, consumers are increasingly using virtual assistants for tasks like placing calls that they would previously have done on their smartphones, tablets or landline telephones.

With the popularity of virtual assistants continuing to rise among consumers and businesses alike, it’s becoming clear that despite many pundits forecasting, “voice is dead,” it is actually undergoing a modern renaissance and becoming more critical than ever, especially for businesses.

Clear, reliable call quality – regardless of the device that a caller may be using – is imperative for today’s businesses. Virtual assistants can present unique challenges in terms of audio quality; issues such as background noise or having multiple voices speaking concurrently can all impact audio quality. Being able to deliver both reliable connectivity and strong audio quality when a call request is made through a virtual assistant can make or break a customer service interaction or an important sale, putting a direct correlation between call clarity and a company’s bottom line.

While many businesses have worked to make the customer service process faster, more efficient and easier for their users, the reality is that when a customer has a personalized or complex customer service-related question, more often than not they want to interact with a live human. Forbes contributor Shep Hyken notes that, “While companies are using (artificial intelligence) to address customers’ basic questions and requests, like a change of address or checking on a bank balance, it has not gone to the level of replacing people for handling higher-level questions.”

In this scenario, whether a phone-initiated inquiry comes to a business from a landline or a virtual assistant, what’s going to matter most to the end user is that their call is connected flawlessly, the call audio is clear and strong, and that the call isn’t dropped during the interaction. Actual issue resolution becomes secondary if a customer can’t reach a business in the first place, or if they can’t hear clearly during their call.

In the age of virtual assistants – not to mention myriad smartphone and intelligent devices – the role of voice and call quality is regaining its importance for businesses. As consumers and businesses alike continue to adopt these smart speakers, they will emerge as a viable alternative to traditional telephony devices.

Therefore, businesses should work closely with their communication service providers to ensure that they are able to offer their customers a clear, reliable and high-quality voice connection regardless of the devices being used both today and in the future as technology companies continue to innovate and offer new advancements for call connectivity.