Telephone calls might just be making a comeback. After years of decline, with phone calls replaced by emails and text messages, telecommunications providers have seen a rise in voice calls.

Connecting with Humans

Life was already becoming skewed towards the online before 2020. Now, with months-long lockdowns and continued encouragement from health professionals to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, the online life has become more normalized than ever before.

Stronger than video signal, phone calls are replacing Zoom and Skype sessions in home offices. One-on-one conversations which used to take place in person are easier over the phone than in a series of emails, less garbled than videos on overtaxed internet connections, and offer a pleasing sense of connection to coworkers who haven’t seen one another in months.

“Voice is the new killer app,” ATT’s executive vice president of technology and operations, Chris Sambar, told the New York Times.

Voices Add Value to Conversation

Your voice is a useful instrument for interpersonal communication, offering dimension to words, expressing emotion, and emphasizing important points. A person’s voice matters so much to conversation that call center employees are trained for an overall quality of speaking, coached on both the rate of speed at which they speak and the pitch of their voice. Too monotone, and callers suspect they’re speaking to a robot. Too high-pitched, and they begin to sound suspicious.

Voices can project understanding, a sense of empathy, and even a sense of urgency, which can help the people on both ends of the phone call understand and act upon the problem at hand.

Effective Reading and Writing Poses a Challenge

Do you have a diverse employee population? There are more than four hundred languages spoken in the United States, and if your employees are most comfortable in one that isn’t represented in your translated materials, they may need additional help understanding benefits or policies.

Additionally, chances are high that you have employees who lack strong reading skills.

52% of Americans have basic or below-basic reading skills, according to a survey by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. This places the majority of Americans at a fifth-grade reading level or below. Are all of your benefits materials, FAQs, and support tickets worded for this audience? It’s likely some people are going to fall through the cracks.

With this in mind, difficult emails or support requests can become transformative and effective phone conversations with employees who are having ongoing issues with benefits, dealing with a challenging policy, or simply asking for your department’s advice.

Phone Calls Can Be Efficient

Phone calls also provide an opportunity to address issues on-the-spot, useful for minor fixes and issues running up against a looming deadline. While “this meeting could have been an email” is a popular workplace gripe, it’s often true as well to say “this email back-and-forth could have been one phone call.” We tend to lean on email as a crutch, saying it saves time, when it truth it’s not efficient as phone calls for quick fixes.

Adding the Phone Back Into Your Operation

How can your department benefit from adding phone conversations back into the Human Resources mix? For one thing, adding a phone option is always going to be best for some members of your team, especially older generations as we’ve discussed in past blog posts. If your team can’t field phone calls all day, adding a call-back option or a confidential voicemail box can allow you to schedule return calls when it fits into your workday.

For high volume of calls or events like Open Enrollment, a call center is your best option. While you might not staff a call center yourself, you can outsource your calls to a professionally-trained team who offer customized support to your employees. For more on how call centers can transform your employees’ HR experience, read Four Ways Call Centers Can Improve Your Benefits Administration.

Then, give us a call! Contact WBD and let’s discuss ways we can help you improve communication and benefits administration.