When it comes to technology, we humans tend to be fickle, switching from one tool to another as the tides of popularity ebb and flow.
Consider how we listen to music. The 1980s welcomed the birth of the compact disc, which eliminated those old scratchy LP records. Suddenly we got better sound and more space in our homes. Then MP3s and online streaming replaced the CD, giving us even more space in our homes with the convenience to take music with us anywhere. But over the past five years, vinyl has made a comeback as people have realized its sonic and aesthetic advantages.
There’s a similar situation happening between voice and text communication. For some time now, telecoms have shifted much of their focus to promoting text-based communications, with less devoted to voice. That makes sense since all generations – not just Millennials – are spending more time pressing buttons instead of talking.
But voice is not dead at all. Nor should it be.
We have to remember that as much as texting, email and chatting tools improve efficiency, there’s nothing more effective from a business standpoint than talking.
With a five-minute phone call or even a meeting, problems tend to get solved quicker. Talking allows for personalization and provides context. We don’t have to make assumptions or try to decipher exactly what someone meant. Poor writing skills can often cause an otherwise positive note to be perceived negatively. Directions for a project may come out unclear.
The problems can get even worse if they involve customers, which is why businesses shouldn’t forget the power of voice communications. Not only do people prefer talking to an actual human being to discuss your offerings, their complaints grow exponentially when they’re unable to resolve issues over the phone.
On a societal level, of course, we’ve been told that no one really wants to talk on the phone anymore. Just think of how you communicate with your friends and family. Co-workers now sit right next to each other but type out messages instead of talking.
Yet technology companies are innovating back to voice, in large part because people are demanding it, and also because it can be more efficient. We can speak over 140 words per minute, much more than we can with typing.
As proof of this shift back to voice, more of us are using voice activated assistants and apps on our smart phones. We can get driving directions and translations with our voice, and bank security is going to the next level with voice recognition systems. And because voice technology continues to improve – it’s now at approximately 90% accuracy – we’ll be using more and more of it as time goes by.
People in their twenties grew up communicating with their fingers. In fact, an actual phone call is so foreign to most of them that some even have a phobia around using their iPhones for talking. Us older folks rarely dial a phone number anymore. Yet whether you’re 25 or 45, voice will always be the natural way to communicate, allowing for the nuance and voice inflection that convey meaning unable to come across on a screen. For that reason, voice technology will not just remain as an option, it will surely spread as a useful tool in our daily lives.