Voice Is Still King – Multimedia In The Contact Center

October, 2013

There is no denying that multimedia has a place in the contact center. But when the dust settles, voice will still be king for many types of interaction, where only a 1-to-1 conversation will do the job.

Utilisation of multiple media types (voice, chat, social media, email, SMS, etc), a.k.a multimedia, in the contact center is a hot topic right now. There is no denying each has a place. But when the dust settles, voice will still be king for many types of interaction, where only a 1-to-1 conversation will do the job, e.g. sales, collections, research validation, any situation where the interaction must be high quality/ high value, or where excellent service is required.

Why does voice do a better job in these circumstances?

Let’s look at the various possible components of communication and consider what they provide.

  • Words used
    The basic building blocks of meaning
  • Identity
    Knowing who you are talking to builds trust and increases confidence that meaning will be correctly interpreted
  • Interaction speed
    The closer the interaction gets to real-time, the more nuance/ give-and-take can occur
  • Tone of voice/ inflection
    The way in which words are delivered can dramatically alter their meaning. Intonation aids correct understanding.
  • Facial expression
    Adds confirmation of the other person’s understanding, and pointers to intended meaning. Why are soldiers on foreign soil encouraged to remove sunglasses when talking to locals? Because seeing the whites of the eye increases trust and improves communication.
  • Body language
    Adds nuance to meaning, often subconsciously.

The table below shows which of these components are available for each of our most common communication methods.

Words used


Interaction speed

Tone of voice/ inflection

Facial expression

Body language

Face-to-face, in person N N N N N N
Video chat/ Skype N N N N N
Phone call N N N N
Web chat/ instant message/ Facebook N N N
Email N N
Web form N
The only method with all these components is face-to-face communication. Sales people the world over have understood its value for millennia. It’s the second most basic human interaction(!). It conveys not just words but emotion, intonation, body language, give & take, affinity/ rapport. And, with the exception of video (see below), it’s out of the question for the contact center.

Video chat is the next best thing to face-to-face interaction, and covers most of the bases. (There are significant technical challenges to this, so it’s not widely used in the contact center. Coming soon!)

A phone call still contains most of the components. For this reason, it is still far and away the most prevalent form of communication in contact centers worldwide.

As we move down the table, we see that the fewer components are available, the harder it is to communicate successfully, especially emotion, and the more effort must be made to build trust and convey the right meaning.

In practice, there is no substitute for understanding how your customers respond to all kinds of contact and then tailor your communications accordingly.

Voice will remain the best available method…

  • in those circumstances where trust, confidence, understanding and familiarity are important
  • in the private sector, where customers are free to shop around. High quality interaction is very important and using media types other than live voice to serve them always needs an element of care

Of course, there are many areas where other methods are appropriate:

  • Most notably in the public service sector. It’s not that customers don’t matter, but they are usually locked in. If they can be catered for without human intervention, there can be a clear case for using other media types, especially when budgets are under pressure
  • And back in the private sector, some customers really don’t wish to be spoken to. They will stay loyal on the basis that you do contact them via SMS, email and social networks

So despite the buzz over multimedia , don’t think that voice communication is going to die off any time soon.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC), offering multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment by partners offering CCaaS or enterprise users. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

  • Flexible Contact Center Platform

    Softdial Contact Center™ – tightly integrated modules, designed to deliver at scale

  • Blended Media Desktop

    Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

  • Work Anywhere

    Browser-based tools, no software installation required

  • Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

    Scalable, resilient, secure, proven

  • Customise, Localise, White Label

    Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

  • Integration Via APIs

    ‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps

  • World Class Development

    Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries


Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

  • All Media Types

    Voice, chat, email, social, etc – fully integrated and blended

  • Agent Multi-Tasking

    Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type

  • Dynamic Media Blending

    Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to blend and balance work load across all media types

  • Predictive Dialing

    Best-of-breed performance under compliance

  • Intelligent Routing

    Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service

  • Agent Scripts

    Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

  • Voice and Screen Recording

    See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

  • Analytics and Data Feeds

    Measure and evaluate performance at every level

  • IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

    Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

  • Customer Journey Tracking

    Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations


A complete suite of tools, with unique flexibility to extend and swap out modules to deliver a tailored contact center solution for any environment

  • Softdial One™

    Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

  • Softdial Scripter™

    Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

  • Sytel AI Dialer™

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing under any compliance rules

  • Softdial Pathfinder™

    Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection

  • Softdial Media Server™

    Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

  • Softdial Reporter™ 5

    Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

  • Softdial Publisher™

    Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

  • Softdial Recording Monitor™

    Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

  • Softdial Campaign Manager™

    Comprehensive configuration and control for outbound campaigns

  • Softdial Repository™

    Central storage and configuration of common resources

  • Sytel Global Compliance™

    Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer


Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

  • Customer Service

    Connect quickly to well equipped agents

  • Sales & Telemarketing

    Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing

  • Healthcare

    Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care

  • Market Research

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

  • Collections

    Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app