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Vocal identity has always been an axis of differentiation for brands across different media: radio, television, interactive voice server (IVR), etc. But today, audio media is undergoing profound changes due to the rapid increase in voice research, the development of podcasts and the advent of voicebots. Indeed, talking is faster than typing and allows people to carry out activities simultaneously. This craze for spoken communication can be explained, in part, by users’ need for personalization and instantaneous results. But how can brands benefit from it?
By paying constant and increasing attention to customer expectations, brands deliver a personalized, relevant, and timely customer experience. At a time when voice-based communication solutions are evolving, this is particularly true of the voice medium. Indeed, voicebots perfectly address these issues and open up new perspectives in terms of engaging and automating customer relationships.
Vocal identity has always been at the heart of commercial activity, as brands expressed their identity and sought to form connections with customers through print media, radio, television and over the phone. Brands could use these tools not just to promote a product, but express their vision and values, forming bonds that would turn curious consumers into loyal customers.
The advent of the Internet saw the birth of new channels like email and social media, which, combined with advances in existing technology – notably phones – meant that communication would be changed forever. These advances not only dramatically sped up processes, they shortened patience, requiring a major reappraisal of what successful brand-customer interactions should look like. Customer expectations require constant and growing attention on the part of brands to offer a personalized, relevant and timely customer experience (CX).
Today, voicebots respond perfectly to these issues and have provided brands with new opportunities for personalized and automated customer relations. The enthusiasm for voice is explained, in part, by the need for speed and desire for instant gratification. Talking is faster than typing and enables multi-tasking; activities like cooking dinner or working out can be accomplished while conducting a conversation. Moreover, using voice-based personal assistants gives consumers the capacity to communicate through natural language, making interactions through voice-powered chatbots genuine and organic.
While voice command functions can be found everywhere nowadays, from kitchen appliances to cars, it was the launch of smart speakers that really propelled a push towards voice-activated personal assistants. Smart speaker sales in the US increased 135% between 2017 and 2019, firmly establishing voice-activated customer journeys as the holy grail of customer service. Placing smart speakers in the center of a home and integrating them into daily routines supported the notion that virtual assistants could provide effective solutions through rewarding, natural interactions. Data indicates consumers have embraced voice-enhanced personal assistants: 2019 saw an estimated 3.25 billion digital voice assistants in active use, with 110 million virtual assistant users in the US. Smart speakers alone support one-third of American consumers! However, as with any recently developed technology, there is still room for voicebot progress and there are several challenges brands must overcome to achieve successful VA implementation. These include:
As voice-based personal assistants become more proficient in comprehension and communication, completing ever-complex operations will be the norm. However, the real litmus test will be linking vocal assistants with phone, email, and social media channels. The goal is not to simply offer various means of communicating with a brand, but achieving an interconnectivity that results in seamless, channel-less customer experiences. Depending on the time of day, location or channel, customers expect to be able to continue a conversation where they left off, without having to start the conversation again. This multimodal customer journey could start via voicebot, move to a call center, and end with a visual message from a chatbot. Crucially for brands, this must be an effortless transition for customers since in today’s competitive market, disjointed customer journeys could spell doom for a brand’s fortunes.
Beyond channel-less integration strategies, AI-driven voicebots will become adept at recognizing not just accents and tones, but other emotional cues like facial expressions and gestures. Enhanced by augmented reality and emotional AI, voice-backed personal assistants will not only be able to understand a query or task, but also perceive the mood of a customer. These features, combined with image and video processing, demonstrate that the dynamic field of voice-based personal assistance is brimming with limitless possibilities.
As a world leader in delivering channel-less cloud solutions to organizations, Odigo is proud to be at the forefront of developing voice-based solutions for its omnichannel offer. But, blending various channels into a channel-less CX experience that is meaningful for brands and customers is where Odigo really excels.
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