The rise of mobile technology and smart phones in the past ten years has fundamentally changed the way we as consumers behave in pretty much every element of our daily lives!
Whilst this technology continues to develop the next big wave of innovation, for me anyway, comes through the use of voice and voice activated technology.
The rate of adoption of voice technology is the same as that of the smartphone and social media when they were first launched. Could you imagine today a brand without a social media presence? Or without an app? With the smart speaker market expected to hit USD 13 billion and over 100 million shipments by 2024, these devices are fast moving from entertainment gizmos to must have appliances. At present it is a pleasant surprise to discover your favourite brand’s voice app, but in 2018 it will become an expectation
The most natural of all interface
Voice is one of our primary and most natural methods of communication, making voice a natural interface for humans. Our world is becoming increasing digital and connected, as a result we have greater expectations with regards to our interactions with brands. Consumers today place great importance on customer experience and expect instant gratification. By allowing third party applications, smart speakers give brands the opportunity to take advantage of this natural interface in order to better meet their customers’ expectations. Voice applications enable brands to have an omnipresence and always be available, no matter where the customer is: their home, car or office…
Be where your customers are
Voice applications can be used as a way to obtain information about a company or product, augment existing mobile apps and web applications with voice-enabled digital services (e.g. “What’s my account balance?”), or enhance customer experiences (“e.g. Alexa, book me into my yoga class”). There are currently over 25000 Skills on Alexa and almost 500 Actions for Google Assistant from brands from a variety of sectors. Companies such as Campbell’s Soup, Capital One, Kayak, Sephora and Accor Hotels have all launched a Skill or Action. Voice applications.
Through creating a better user experience, brands are able to boost acquisition and improve retention. In the UK, Domino’s Pizza recently achieved increased sales, which the company partly attributes to it’s Alexa Skill! Voice applications also create a digitally augmented workforce, easing the pressure on sales teams for certain tasks, enabling them to focus on other areas of the business. With an increasing number of major tech players launching their own smart speaker, the market, originally pioneered by Amazon, is not expected to calm down anytime soon.
Improve your voice search ranking
Digital assistants also have the potential to disrupt web browsers. According to Gartner, by 2020, 30% of search queries will be conducted without a screen. Unlike searching on a screen, no one wants to hear endless search results reiterated by a smart speaker. Users want one answer. “Implicit invocations” from Google means that a user can activate an app without explicitly saying the apps name. But what if the brand doesn’t have an app? In this situation you risk the smart speaker giving incorrect information from any old website or referring to a competitor.
The early adopter advantage
Brands need to seize the early adopter advantage and define themselves in this new voice operated environment. Pioneers who have already launched their voice first strategy should be applauded, as this is no easy feat. A voice first strategy means not only developing a voice application but one that adds value to your customers, but also considers all other touch points in order to create an omnichannel customer journey with a consistent brand message.
Imagine the frustration of millions of users who ask to speak to British Airways, Marriott Hotels or HSBC, if these brands do not offer a voice portal. Imagine that the assistant then offers them to talk to a competitor; who has already rolled out their vocal strategy. Imagine that the voice search engine answers a question that directly concerns one of these brands with an incomplete or erroneous response from any site. It’s time for brands to realize that personal assistants are the interface of tomorrow and that in this new voice first paradigm, there will be the winners and the losers.