Every business needs to provide ways to enable employees, customers, partners, and other to connect, communicate, and transact. Voice is one such channel and, like every other aspect of business, needs to be factored into your business continuity strategies. Here are six things you need to know about business voice resilience in 2023 and beyond.
1. Voice is as important as ever.
You might be tempted to discount voice as an old-school communication method that’s on the decline. It is not. The precipitous rise of other channels provides more options, but it does not make voice irrelevant. For example, many businesses are taking advantage of channels like SMS messaging, and over-the-top services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. And while it’s true that many people nowadays prefer to perform many tasks without having to speaking with a human, this isn’t always the case. Even when alternative channels are being used, they typically only work well for routine communications, which means that the instances where people do prefer a voice conversation often come with higher stakes. There is evidence that this is true from the perspective of both businesses and consumers. According to NTT’s 2020 Global CX Benchmarking Report, 71.4% of organizations prefer to use the telephone or in-person conversations for retention, escalation, or dispute resolutions. And a 2019 global customer insights study by Pega revealed that 62% of consumers still prefer to have phone calls with a representative for customer support. Given the increased criticality and importance of such voice-based communications, you need to ensure that those calls get through and provide a clear connection.
2. The digitization of voice creates potential weak leaks along the call path.
In the pre-Internet days, voice traffic was transmitted through twisted copper pairs—meaning there was a physical connection between the originating voice pathway and the destination of that call. This conditioned us to think about voice as being issue-free. Today, however, a large majority of voice traffic is transmitted through voice-over-IP (VoIP) networks or SIP trunking, which supports video, messaging, and fax in addition to voice. This has a lot of advantages, so it’s no surprise that the VoIP market surpassed $40 billion in 2022 and is expected to see 10% CAGR from 2023 to 2032, according to Global Market Insights. But this also creates more opportunities for disruption along the call path. That’s not to say that VoIP and SIP trunking are unreliable—they’re not. But because they rely on the Internet, a disaster, power outage, or configuration error could potentially affect service.
3. Voice business continuity is … complicated.
Because of the complexity of the call path, business continuity for IP-based voice communications requires protections on several different fronts: outbound vs. inbound, and toll-free vs. direct inward dial (DID) phone numbers. On the outbound side, most providers offer failover and redundancy at the trunk level or the WAN level. For inbound calls to toll-free numbers, you want to work with a provider that is a RespOrg, which, without going into all the technical details, means they are able to route around problems and can port numbers between telecom carriers if the carrier itself is down. For inbound DID numbers, carriers have failover and redundancy measures in place.
4. But inbound DID resiliency has traditionally had one specific problem.
Astute readers will notice that despite all of the protections mentioned in the previous section, there is one gap: what happens with inbound calls to DID numbers when the carrier itself is down? While this isn’t an everyday occurrence, it can—and does—happen for a variety of reasons. For example, in 2020, a bomb was detonated in Nashville that damaged neighboring buildings including an AT&T network facility, cutting service for residents and businesses in the city for many days. And in early 2023, T-Mobile suffered a major outage due to a “third-party fiber interruption.” Historically, in such cases, you either had to wait the outage out. Or if you wanted to try to proactively address it, you needed to port those numbers to a different carrier—which can take days, or even weeks. For some organizations, this is simply not acceptable.
5. Flowroute’s patented HyperNetwork fills the gap.
Today, there is a solution to this problem, thanks to a patented technology called HyperNetwork, which helps mitigate outage time. If there is degradation of voice or even a carrier outage for calls that are inbound into a local number that is covered by the service, HyperNetwork can bypass that degraded pathway or carrier path that has an outage. This means that calls can be delivered to the recipient not just on an alternate pathway but even an alternate carrier. This means that businesses can build more complete business continuity protections for their mission-critical voice applications.
6. Tips to determine if HyperNetwork is right for your organization.
Interruptions to inbound call service are never ideal; however, the impact of an outage falls along a spectrum that ranges from inconvenient to catastrophic. If a caller wants to book a hotel room or pose a simple, frequently asked service question, for example, it’s a straightforward transaction that could just as easily be performed from a website or an app. In this case, an outage, while undesirable, is a mere annoyance. But if a patient is calling to discuss health issues and treatments, or if your inbound call center handles complex transactions that are highly individualized, or if you offer emergency services and need your community members to be able to reach you during a crisis, then voice is mission-critical. To determine whether your organization needs the level of resiliency that HyperNetwork provides, consider the following questions:
- Would an outage that prevents your customers/constituents from reaching you result in their harm or distress?
- Would an outage that prevents your customers/constituents from reaching you create significant damage to your business’s reputation or revenues?
- Does the nature of the conversations require a reliably clear connection to ensure that both parties fully understand each other?
- Are alternative channels of communications unable to satisfactorily fulfill the needs of your customers/constituents or your organization?
If the answer to any of these is yes, then HyperNetwork could be a critical component of your business voice continuity strategy.
By David Anandraj