When you think of voice-first interactions, what comes to mind?
A few years back, you might have thought of Alexa or Siri. Today, you’re more likely to say voice-first banking, telehealth or customer service.
See how ingrained voice interactions have become in our lives?
Back in 2011 when Voice AI technology was first launched by Apple as Siri, no one could’ve predicted it would become a major driver of innovation.
In 2020, Voice AI saw a big jump in adoption thanks to its contactless appeal.
Now, as we slowly make our way out of the pandemic (fingers crossed!) companies are learning that customers aren’t willing to give up the convenience of voice interactions. When a simple, verbal conversation can do the trick, why go back and forth over email or text?
Voice technology wasn’t always very intelligent. It was a clunky experience when first introduced and got a lukewarm response from users.
First, there was the era of ‘press this number’ on the phone keypad. Simple and effective, but a highly frustrating tree of options to remember, like ‘press 5 for support’.
Then, there came the ‘word hunting’ phase where the machine was searching for a specific term. You had to say it the exact same way to be understood. So if the machine was looking for a ‘yes’ and you said ‘yeah’, you’d get nowhere.
Now, Voice AI can engage in natural spoken conversations, on-brand customer communications, ask open-context questions and understand responses.
Think about how your customers seek information or find answers to queries on the daily. Do they use voice search or a smart assistant?
Today, 1 in 4 adults in the US owns a voice technology activated smart speaker. Voice assistants are a small segment of the Voice AI solutions market but their widespread adoption indicates changing consumer behaviour.
The main driver for this shift is user expectations. In a constantly evolving digital world where speed, efficiency and convenience are non-negotiable, continuously optimising these aspects of the customer experience is key to winning their business.
But Voice AI can also be seen as an opportunity. If your customers are of an older demographic, they might prefer interacting verbally over a phone call as opposed to text or email.
Traditional engagement channels like emails, SMS or in-app notifications are not always effective. Plus, with flooded inboxes, you need a way to cut through the noise to get your customers’ attention.
Voice AI is a distinctly new class of conversational user interface, well articulated personalities that represent your company’s brand, understand what your customer is saying and can proactively extract unexpected knowledge.
Many fast-moving digital businesses in industries such as eCommerce and FinTech are already seeing the benefits of Voice AI.
It’s not long before every company will require a voice presence and strategy. Are you prepared for the voice revolution?
About the author
David McKeague is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategist at Curious Thing. He is a thought leader on innovation, AI and the future enterprise. As an AI entrepreneur, he has founded a series of tech startups in AI services, wireless and edge AI.