Voice may be dominant in customer service, but the future is omnichannel

BICS customer service
Image by World Image | Bigstockphoto

If you want to know how the role of voice is changing in customer service and support, you would want to ask the company that handles 21 billion voice minutes and 20 billion messages a year.[A1] 

So we did. We talked to Divya Ghai Wakankar, Head of Digital Communications Solutions at BICS, about digitalisation and the future of customer service.

Even though voice is still dominant in customer service – and inherent in the now familiar world of video calls – enterprises need to plan to support multiple channels. The future is omnichannel and getting there is more complex than it sounds.

“A customer might contact the customer team via messaging one day and WhatsApp the next, and it is vital for a good customer experience that the customer’s details are easily available, no matter which channel they use,” says Wakankar.

BICS has spent the last four years enhancing its existing and widely used offerings, designing multiple APIs, creating number offering or number-as-a-service solutions, SIP trunking and VoIP services – the favourite voice technology for most enterprises. The result is a bundled solution called programmable communications, which can be customised by BICS’ customers on top of the APIs. This year, BICS is rolling out ‘click-to-call’ services, as well as number anonymity. And pricing is usage based, so the result is great flexibility for the customer.

“It is crucial to integrate voice into many apps that you might think do not need it,” says Wakankar. “We have said that voice is inherent in a Zoom call, for instance, but think about ride hailing apps. There is always that moment when you can’t quite spot the driver and you must be able to talk to each other seamlessly and within the app.”

The impact of the pandemic on enterprises’ digitalisation plans is, as you would expect, dramatic. “Digitalisation has been on the CIO’s priority list for some years. Now it is at the top,” says Wakankar, who, while seeing the fastest progress across North America and Europe, is particularly inspired by what she sees across the Asia Pacific region.

“I am really impressed, we are seeing very effectively optimised channels, together with super apps being developed that support different services and channels – essentially a contact centre as a service,” says Wakankar.

There are two types of companies undergoing digitalisation projects in the enterprise world right now, according to Wakankar, “the digital natives and the digital adopters, who are in the process of updating their tools and processes.

This results in three common use cases,” she says. “Communication and collaboration, and customer service enablement for contact centres and customer engagement. We support these with solutions such as two factor authentication, click-to-call functionality, and number masking, among others. We believe we deliver real, flexible programmable communications for our customers. Meanwhile, because we provide direct connectivity for our operator clients, quality is fundamental, as is support for all five layers, from software, through to network and service.”

The future is definitely omni-channel, says Wakankar. “With embedded payment becoming increasingly essential, we will soon be bringing payment APIs to our customers, plus enhancements to our fraud and analytics offerings, while bringing everything together, no matter which cloud or clouds we need to support.” 

It is clear that while the world goes multi-channel, voice will remain dominant, whichever channel customers use. The full interview can be heard here...

Interview with Divya Ghai Wakankar
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