In a world where you can wish your mom on her birthday, hail a ride and chat to your bank without ever having to make a phone call, it may seem, on the surface, that voice calls are dead.

By Warren Hawkings, MD of Euphoria Telecom

And while we may never have to make a call to look up a telephone number or get the weather report again, there are still some areas where voice trumps digital communication, so we shouldn’t be writing its obituary just yet.

Globally, people are calling less. UK communications regulator Ofcom’s Communications Market Report for 2023 shows that total fixed and mobile call volumes fell by 11% from the previous year to 202 bn minutes in 2022 in that market.

While the fourth industrial revolution may have a lot to do with this decline, younger generations are also increasingly opting out of voice despite spending more time on their mobile phones than ever. Nicknamed Generation Mute, or the Silent Generation, millennials and Gen Zs have eschewed telephone calls citing their stressful or time consuming nature among other reasons.

But there is significant research which indicates that people still crave one-on-one interactions in the digital age. A study by the American Psychological Association highlights that while digital communication might be quicker, it can also lead to feelings of separation and loneliness. And multiple studies have shown that close personal relationships lead to happier people overall.

Love it or hate it, the telephone call has endured for nearly 150 years and still has a lot to offer, especially for business users.

Immediate feedback and clarification

If you’ve ever sent an urgent email and waited hours for a response, or tried to decipher the tone of someone’s email or text message, you’ll know that sometimes making a call is just easier.

In business this is key, because a call allows for immediate feedback and problem-solving, which is crucial in customer support and team collaboration. Unlike text-based communication, voice reduces miscommunication by conveying tone and context, leading to better understanding and quicker resolutions.

This real-time interaction also means customers can ask clarifying questions or get further information, without having to go back and forth via email.

Sales teams benefit from voice communication as it allows them to address concerns directly, demonstrate expertise, and tailor their pitches more effectively, leading to higher conversion rates.

And we cannot discount the fact that in South Africa where we have multiple languages and literacy levels are low, being able to speak to someone on the phone might be the more accessible choice for many.

Faster problem solving

There is a reason that when it comes to complex ideas and conversations, many text-based conversations end with someone saying “do you want to hop on a call quickly to discuss this?”

Phone calls can facilitate more nuanced discussions. It’s also easier to brainstorm, bounce ideas off of one another, or collaborate on a voice call than constantly having to email or text back and forth.

Building rapport and trust

Remember when you were a kid and your parents wouldn’t let you sleep over at a friend’s house until they’d spoken to said friend’s parents on the phone? This is the power of a voice call in establishing a relationship and building trust.

In business, this could be as simple as reassuring a customer who has found your business online that you are a legitimate enterprise or that their order has shipped. It’s also a powerful tool in call centres – allowing agents to commiserate or offer comfort when someone calls in with an insurance claim after an accident or a theft.

There is also something to be said about the follow-up phone call that leaves a customer feeling like their problem has not only been resolved but that they are important to your business. This personal touch, and the rapport and trust which calling helps build, are vital for long-term customer relationships.

Technological advancements may have changed the tools people use to communicate, but it has not changed why we communicate. At the heart of every exchange is the need to connect and feel understood. The voice call, with its immediacy, its simplicity and its ability to convey tone and emotion still remains an incredible communications tool for both businesses and individuals alike.

Voice communication should form part of a balanced strategy that includes traditional and digital methods, to ensure businesses can adapt and thrive, while still maintaining strong, personal connections with customers.