What Is a Voice Application?

Posted on April 28, 2023

A customer-oriented voice application can improve customer service, increase response time, and reduce the costs of receiving business calls. According to a study by McKinsey, one financial institution claimed nearly half of its call volume was fulfilled by interactive voice response (IVR) from start to finish. Improving its system to assist customers increased customer satisfaction by 10 to 25%. Building an IVR voice application for your client or business can reduce costs and improve customer service when properly designed for response speed.

As a developer, you can design a voice-based application to solve your client or business’ growing need for faster response times to high call volumes. This blog will explore why your business would want a voice application, how a voice API can simplify building the application, and provide some best practices and examples to help you get started. We will also explain how to choose an ideal voice-based application partner.

What Is a Voice Application, and Why Is it a Growing Solution for Business?

Voice applications are used in various industries to facilitate calling between users. A growing number of organizations are building voice-based applications to answer phones and transcribe speech-to-text and text-to-speech. Voice applications are also present in virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. They offer several advantages to businesses of various types and sizes. Organizations are choosing to build voice-based applications to deliver convenience to clients, productivity to their teams, and to automate repetitive tasks.

How an API Can Make Building Your Voice Application Simple

When building a voice application or implementing voice into an existing application, you can build your feature from scratch or implement voice using an API. Building your voice API from scratch offers greater customization, but it can take hours of development, and the application will likely launch after weeks of coding and testing. 

Related: How to Use APIs to Create Customized Business Solutions

Procuring a voice API from a reliable provider simplifies integrating your voice feature. Often, you can implement the API in a few lines of code and have your app up and running in minutes.

Best Practices When Integrating a Voice API

When designing, implementing, and testing your voice application, it is important to make the system as effortless and accessible as possible. A study from Gartner suggests that a low-effort experience maintains a positive customer relationship. While a high-effort experience can turn away more than 95% of customers, a low-effort experience sees less than 10% of customers abandoning the call. The following best practices will ensure a more user-friendly experience:

  • Provide clear instructions for users through voice or text, ensuring they know when to respond to prompts with voice or dial tones.
  • Keep choices to a select few and make them brief to avoid overwhelming users and demanding too much from their memory.
  • Break down lengthy pieces of information into more consumable words and phrases.
  • Prefer voice options over dial tone inputs, except when necessary.
  • Have the option to request help or go back if the user is unsatisfied with their current choices.
  • Use confirmations only when necessary, such as when handling confidential information.
  • Present information in an easy-to-hear way without jargon.
  • Leverage automated and user-based testing.
  • Test unexpected conversations and inputs.
  • Test different platforms and understand the limitations users and platforms might have.

Typical Use-Cases of a Voice Application

Businesses often create a voice application to solve high call volumes or repetitive calls. Automating the answering system with an interactive voice response (IVR) system allows high volumes of calls to receive a response efficiently. There are several examples that can help clarify potential use cases.

Automated Voice System for a Financial Institution

A busy financial institution that receives numerous calls for a simple balance inquiry can benefit from an interactive voice response (IVR) system. The financial institution can implement an IVR that allows callers to check their balance without requiring a live representative, or the IVR can transfer them to a receptionist if their call is more complex.

When callers reach the financial institution’s auto-attendant system, it asks the caller to enter a choice on their keypad or say the name of the transaction they need to complete, such as balance inquiry, account transfer, order a new debit card, or something else. 

The system will direct the caller to a prompt to continue their transaction, such as checking the account balance, and it will be able to input their bank account number to receive their balance. If they need help with something else or are having trouble accessing their bank account information, they can press a number or use a voice command to speak with a live representative.

Automated Voice System to Contact a Large Retailer

Retailers often receive numerous daily calls to request simple information like store hours and location or to check if an item is ready for pick-up. Retailers typically don’t have the staff to answer the phone and instead opt for an auto attendant or IVR system to answer frequently asked questions or transfer callers to the right department.

At the corporate level, a store can have a single 1-800 number to call their headquarters with inquiries or be routed to a local branch. They can also have an IVR for each branch. When a caller reaches out to the retailer, they will be presented with several prompts, such as store hours, location, item pick-up time, or choosing to speak to a customer service representative or a specific department. The voice system can have numbers corresponding to the choices or allow for voice responses to streamline the process.

Interactive Voice Response for Airlines

Airlines typically have large volumes of calls that can significantly increase wait times to speak with a live representative. However, many calls can be addressed by an IVR system. An airline can implement an IVR to address simple questions and concerns, such as flight times, delays, and check-in times, with an option to transfer for more complex issues like seat changes and refunds.

When a caller reaches the airline’s phone system, they will be greeted and given options using the dial tone or voice. They can choose from options such as flight or check-in times, delays, terminal and gate numbers, arrival times, shuttle times and locations, or confirm their purchase. Again, if their issue is more complex, they can choose to speak with a live representative from the airline to purchase, refund, or change their booking.

Text-to-Speech Calling and Speech-to-Text Messaging

Providing accessibility options to users is an excellent way to support a growing customer base. A developer can integrate text-to-speech and speech-to-text into a voice application, such as a calling application, to make the service more accessible and user-friendly. When a caller wants to send a text, they can record a message using voice, and the service will transcribe it into a text message. A feature could also take a text message and interpret it as a voice message for the recipient.

Mobile App or Website Calling Feature

A common voice application is a click-to-call feature implemented on a website or mobile app, when a client wants to contact the company for support or another party affiliated with the business, such as a courier. 

For example, an e-commerce website can add a click-to-call button so that users can quickly and conveniently contact the organization for updates on their order status or to make a change. In a mobile app, ride-sharing companies often add a click-to-talk button along with a call masking microservice, allowing users to call their driver without revealing their phone number.

What Should You Look for in a Voice Application API Provider?

When deciding which provider to choose for your API and voice application, consider whether the platform will make it easy to configure the application for your company or client’s needs and whether it offers the flexibility you need.

Simple Integration

An API provider can simplify the development and implementation of a voice application. Look for a voice API partner that provides software development kits (SDKs) and helpful resources like articles, quickstarts, and guides to make it easy to build a voice application that meets your client’s or business’s needs. 

An API platform can make your voice application integration seamless by maintaining the voice API on a version-tracking platform like Github, so you know you are using the most up-to-date and secure version.

Related: Questions to Consider as You Look to Scale Your Programmable Voice Solution

Providers that offer an API written in representational state transfer (REST) architecture can also facilitate easier integration of your voice application. REST APIs are compatible with most programming languages, allowing you to use your preferred language. They use common HTTP commands, such as PUT and GET, and use popular data types like XML. REST APIs are easy to work with and use fewer resources than others, reducing bandwidth consumption and processing power required by your company or client.

Scalability and Reliability

The voice application you design will be used for critical communication. Reliability is crucial to ensure they can provide service 24/7. A reliable provider will ensure that every caller gets through to your business or client’s direct inward dialing (DID) number and that callers get the service they expect.

Your API provider should also offer adequate scalability and flexibility for your voice application to grow. Your business or client may require additional users or calling capacity. The right platform will allow the business to procure additional phone numbers from a simple web portal and assign DID numbers when needed. A cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service with a scalable and reliable network will dynamically route calls based on inbound and outbound traffic, so no calls are missed.

Cloud-based VoIP with session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking also means that the business won’t require a primary rate interface (PRI) provided by the traditional carrier with a limit of 23 simultaneous channels per interface. Instead, a cloud-based SIP trunk will allow for nearly unlimited connections, depending on the business’s bandwidth. This will give your voice application a range of scalability. You can test and implement the voice service without a significant upfront investment with a flexible metered or per-minute plan.

Build Your Voice Application With a Reliable Platform

Building a voice application begins with a voice API from a reputable telecommunication platform. You will have the documentation to implement the API in your preferred programming language and provide voice service with a reliable voice-calling network. Flowroute’s voice API and SIP allow you to build a voice-based application with the reliability, flexibility, and scalability your client or business requires. To simplify building and implementing your application, get started with Flowroute today.

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