Future-Proofing The Customer Experience With Voice
By Rob Stanbridge, Vocala MD
Since undergoing months of ‘lockdown’ we have witnessed a huge paradigm shift in the relationship between brands and their consumers.
The ‘stay home’ message changed how, when and where brands and businesses can interact and engage with their audience. Advertisers have had to rethink both message and media, content really has become king, with social media gaining even greater power while face-to-face connections were non-existent.
It’s difficult to maintain good customer relationships at the best of times and brands now have the opportunity to rethink and ‘future-proof’ their customer communications strategies, in a world where the role of voice technology has also made a seismic shift. Smart speakers were already on track to be the fasted adopted technology in history. That was before the world’s population was locked-down in their own homes with technology as their main form of connection, productivity, entertainment and, in many senses, survival. We are now seeing the touch-free, contactless and, therefore more-hygienic medium of Voice, on a fast track to adoption.
When considering what makes a great customer experience voice can deliver in many respects:
- Speed — The average person can type around 40 words per minute, yet speak 150 words per minute so voice has much to offer here
- Convenience — voice allows multitasking and can be on demand wherever the customer is Friendliness — voice experiences can deliver personality and use polite and pleasant language
- Personalisation — you have the ability to tailor the experience, recognise the user, location, time of day and remember previous interactions
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Consumers had already come to expect brands and businesses to deliver fast, efficient, friendly service but it’s going to be more important than ever for acquiring and retaining customers with the global economic recession that is widely predicted. Businesses will need to carefully weigh-up costs with the customer experience provided.
The future of cost-effective customer service lines and call-centres lies in brand and business ‘voice-bots’. These are intelligent voice assistants that understand natural language and can rapidly analyse a customer’s query and respond in human-like language. They can ‘triage’ calls and queries easily, removing the need for frustratingly long numbered lists and can swiftly handle FAQs like opening hours and returns policies.
What’s more they free up real customer service professionals to handle the most appropriate queries. These customer-centric systems have the ability to connect to other CRM channels such as SMS or email where relevant, all while gathering data and insights which, through machine learning, can be applied automatically to improve the service provided.
Voice can also be applied to help organisations gather insight and information. Conducting surveys or market research can be done in a fraction of the time it would take to do it manually by using intelligent, human-like voice assistants to ask questions, collect or check information.
On top of leveraging voice for reactive customer service, it can also help to put brands ahead of competitors from a proactive perspective, by creating engaging voice applications for the millions of devices that now sit in people’s homes and pockets. Voice offers the ability to connect a campaign with the target consumer via a convenient, hands-free, call-to-action, whether the objective is capturing leads, driving sales or strengthening brand engagement.
Now when customers want to request information, register their details, ask for coupons, enter competitions or receive samples, it can all be done by voice. Whatever the industry or sector there is an opportunity to deliver voice-activated, interactive content which will enhance the brand-to-customer relationship. From entertaining customers with puzzles and games, to providing useful productivity tools, stimulating creativity with ideas and recipes or delivering pure news and storytelling, the possibilities for the consumer and the brand are endless and there for the taking.
With the potential long-term changes and restrictions to our way of life mean brands and businesses will have to find future-proofed ways to ensure they can reach and engage with their audiences. Voice technology can provide a customer-centric approach that is 24–7, responsive, engaging and adds value to the customer experience.