In the past few years, consumers have responded to voice technology positively, as evidenced by the fact that in 2019, worldwide shipments of smart speakers grew by 45% year-over-year, and 27% of the global online population used voice search on mobile devices.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Suddenly, people became wary of any type of physical interaction. What were once uncomplicated everyday tasks–typing in a credit card pin on a pad at the grocery store or pumping gas–now cause fear and second guesses.
Speech based solutions, which allow for contactless customer interactions by their inherent design, are now in greater demand than ever before.
To incorporate voice into your customer engagement mix, here are three things to consider:
To begin your digital voice journey, you must first identify which touchpoints customers and prospects use to engage with the brand. Then think about how those interactions can be replaced with speech.
For example, in the retail industry, companies can leverage digital speech to support customer experiences in store, as COVID-19 has limited physical interactions that used to take place. These experiences span:
The value of voice in not limited to retail. Companies in other industries, such as education, can leverage digital speech to develop text-to-speech technology that reads content out loud to students. And, hospitality organizations can leverage digital speech to respond to guests’ questions without needing in-person contact.
Once you understand where speech can be implemented to support the consumer experience, you must work to find a partner who can help bring your voice to life.
As voice technology becomes more common and as more speech-enablement partners become available, it may be overwhelming to decide which company is right for you.
As you research, there are key questions and qualifications to consider to ensure you team up with the partner who will help you best meet your voice objectives.
The best voice partners will use the most effective technology available, guarantee data privacy and have rich expertise in quality assurance. Additionally, there is technology available that allows partners to create a unique, custom voice.
A custom voice is one that a brand creates from scratch, as opposed to the robotic voices found currently in voice assistants, helping your company stand out from the competition.
You’ll want to make sure that partners enabling custom speech use Deep Neural Network (DNN) technologies, which ensures that the voice is the highest quality to help create a more lifelike experience for the consumer.
You may also want to ask how many languages it can support, how long they’ve had experience creating speech and how quickly they can develop and deploy voices.
This last piece is particularly important if you need to create contactless interactions with customers immediately to maintain customer loyalty and business continuity.
Already, brands are leveraging digital voices to stand out from the competition and engage users. For example, some brands have released custom voices on smart speakers with which consumers can interact when they request an update on a package or place a food order.
Custom voices should match the brand personality, since they impact marketing outcomes and play an important role in a sonic branding strategy.
Companies can create a custom speech by thinking about the gender, tone, style of voice and personality to ensure it matches the brand’s perception. By leveraging a custom speech across consumer touchpoints, companies can best engage audiences.
Voice technology is on the rise, and innovative brands are already working it into their customer engagement strategies to create better, safer and more compelling customer experiences. Now is the time for you to create your custom speech, or risk being left behind.
Matt Muldoon is President, North America at ReadSpeaker, where he is responsible for steering the company’s continued growth as it partners with organizations around the world to create the most engaging digital voice interfaces. Matt is a 15-year technology company veteran, and has held leadership roles at companies including Syndigo, and Supervalu.
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