The Customer is Always Right: Why Programmable Voice is a Key Component of Digital Retail

Retail companies looking to digitally transform don’t need to fix what isn’t broken. Instead, these brands need to meet customers where they already are and adhere to their communication preferences — which currently, perhaps surprisingly, points to voice. Vonage’s latest global research shows voice calls are a top-two preferred communication channel by consumers when connecting with brands, and this is likely to increase in the coming year.

In fact, 73% of consumers currently connect with businesses via voice calls, and one-third plan to do even more business through voice in the next year. However, when considering voice as a channel, it’s not just about making phone calls. Rather, voice is a tool brands can implement to ensure effective communication both internally and externally. 

Voice helps brands to externally facilitate meaningful interactions and conversations with their customers to meet and exceed already high expectations, which results in a better experience and greater engagement. Programmable voice technology, which allows brands to receive and make phone calls using Voice APIs right from the apps they are already using, can have a big impact on businesses internally by fostering growth through streamlined workflows while also creating greater efficiency for the brand.

Programmable Voice for Greater Customer Experience (CX)

Today’s consumers are busier than ever, which has resulted in a greater demand for faster solutions to their retail problems. With the growth of voice assistants, in addition to a general preference for spoken communication, voice commerce continues to grow. For some consumers, it is much quicker to pose questions or complete purchases via a voice call, over the phone or through an app, rather than spending extra time searching online for a product or service or even going to a physical store. 


Conversational commerce that includes programmable voice solutions have provided the ability to establish accounts, make purchases, pay by phone and receive delivery alerts — all using voice technology. Imagine you’re in the middle of making dinner and you realize you just used the last of your favorite ingredients. Without missing a beat, you could quickly tell your smart assistant to order more through voice-enabled retail technology — saving time and sanity. 

Meeting and exceeding the expectations of customers is critical for retail brands as the market continues to become even more competitive. With programmable voice, retailers can deliver a positive experience in real time while also enhancing the customer journey through better automation and analytics. Take for example a pizza parlor, where verbally ordering pizza over the phone is, in many households, a tradition. However, many restaurants are short staffed and it can be difficult to answer voice calls at peak times.

A voice AI solution can improve the customer experience when a customer dials in, as well as cut down on costs by interacting with the customer in real time and routing the call to a live person in the restaurant as necessary. In fact, Sync3 (formerly Novo Labs), which provides conversational commerce services to restaurants, sees more customers continuing to opt for verbal orders even when messaging or other digital channels are available.

Incorporation of Voice Tech Leads to Higher Success and Efficiency

Not only does programmable voice greatly improve the customer experience, but this technology also positively affects brands and their employees. The potential growth for businesses that use programmable voice correctly is enormous. Consumers who make purchases using a voice assistant tend to spend an average of $136 more a month than someone who was simply shopping on their computer or in the store. Voice-based shopping has the potential to dramatically increase a business’ ROI.

Programmable voice can also favorably influence the daily lives of retail store employees and corporate workers. Slow or routine tasks, including clocking in and out, could be completed quickly through voice rather than using a separate and perhaps mundane platform. On the managerial side, programmable voice can provide real-time access to store analytics such as sales information, order status, delivery delays and arrivals without having to pause work to gather the data. 

On a broader brand level, some businesses may not have the resources or applicant pool to hire enough support employees needed to meet customer demand. Alternatively, programmable voice can ensure employees have more time to solve complex issues, while the AI-powered voice tech capabilities facilitate frictionless experiences within the contact center and can automatically direct consumers to the correct place and answer common questions in real time. 

Key Technologies to get Started with Programmable Voice

To capitalize on the consumer preference for voice, brands can extend their capabilities to programmable experiences and embed voice tech easily into any customer-facing process, including:

  • WebRTC: This allows brands to embed voice in their website or application. If a customer decides to have a voice conversation after browsing the website, a ‘click to call’ button will move the conversation immediately to programmable voice self-service, with frictionless escalation to a live agent if needed.
  • AI enablement: This facilitates greater self-service for customers. They are able to interact with a voice bot in real-time to answer questions or make purchases.
  • Programmable SIP: This provides a way to extend SIP trunks to connect with a voice API that results in more seamless interactions.

Programmable voice can enhance the way retail brands interact with customers, simplify employee jobs and also impact business growth. This voice tech is a crucial component in achieving more immediate outcomes and an overall exceptional customer experience. This helps brands exceed consumer demands as more will be looking to voice in the future. 


As VP Product and Carrier Services for Vonage, Colin Brown oversees the company’s voice, messaging, SMS and Verify API Product, as well as carrier services teams. In his role, Brown is responsible for building global leading products that Vonage customers trust to deliver communications with their customers across any channel. Prior to joining Vonage in 2018, Brown served as Senior Manager of Carrier Operations at CPaaS provider Twilio. In this role, he founded the carrier operations team, building the organization from the ground up. Brown also held operations and engineering leadership roles at mobile app developer company TalkFree, where he managed development of models to repatriate funds from emerging markets for those lacking easy access to debit/credit cards and brought local micro markets to immigrant workers in the region by providing them with the platform and tools to succeed locally with their customers.

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