VOICE IS COMING: IS YOUR BUSINESS READY?

Imagine walking into your favorite fast food joint to find no visible employees or even counters. All that greets you is a giant menu—with instructions to speak your order when ready. Within minutes, your desired number three combo is in your hands, and you’re on your way. Better yet—imagine running your business hands-free from the seat of your car as you issue commands to your new mobile assistant. Traffic jams will never be the same—in a good way.

Yes, the next significant disruption is on the way—and it’s already gaining traction in the fast food and basic consumable spaces. Humans love to talk, and the invisible interface of voice is poised to change the way consumers connect with businesses. Gartner predicts by 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will occur without a screen. Bill Crider, Director, Microsoft Technologies Practice at Ascendum, offers a glimpse of the future when he says, “Everything you now control with a push, click or dial will most likely be controlled by voice in the next five years.”

The reality of a voice-driven economy is rapidly approaching. The next step in customer experience will demand solutions and satisfaction as fast as the spoken word. Is your business ready to compete? What game-changing benefits will voice user interfaces bring and how can your enterprise prepare to take advantage of the future opportunity?

GAME-CHANGING BENEFITS

Fast and easy wins today’s customer experience race and connecting with customers in their mobile lives has never been more critical. Voice user interfaces are the ultimate mobile optimization—allowing faster, convenient interaction at the speed of life. No matter what side of the conversation you’re on, customer or provider, the freedom of voice is liberating. Connecting through voice gives us our lives back—removing clunky steps, allowing multi-tasking, and never interrupting our daily flow. It seems so natural—maybe because it is.

Everyone hates slogging through drop-down menus, and as humans we are wired for speech, welcoming the opportunity to engage through voice. Voice puts us in touch with our humanity—it allows brands to have some fun with tone, humor, and personality while appearing far more like us.

From a cost perspective, being enabled for voice interactions will provide substantial cost savings for enterprises. Businesses will need fewer employees when customers can speak directly to machines. Smaller workforces will deliver higher productivity—accomplishing more in far less time with super AI-enhanced (artificial intelligence) assistants shouldering the load.

Providing a solid voice experience will undoubtedly provide a long list of benefits regarding customer experience and cost savings. However, the most important benefit of all might be remaining relevant. Enterprises in a digitized world will need to be equipped for voice to compete. Bill Crider explains, “If your product or service isn’t prepared to offer a voice-activated user interface (VUI) in the next five years, you will be operating at a significant disadvantage and proceeding at your peril.”

PREPARING FOR VUI (Voice User Interface)

Voice is coming, and your business needs to be ready. No need to worry—we’ve got you covered. To prepare for the coming disruption, and maximize the benefits of voice interactions, your enterprise needs to:

Become VUI Capable- Take the time now to ensure your brand is equipped and positioned to offer voice as a non-specific command. Install the applications and behind-the-scenes architecture necessary to translate voice commands into actionable business processes. Make sure all systems are prepared to accommodate multiple customer approaches with flexible logistics.

Develop Expertise in Effective VUI- The technology currently limits voice, as machines still struggle with understanding language, tone, and context. The tech race is on to make talking with machines a seamless, natural experience and the winners will score big.

 Examine your business for all the ways voice can improve the customer experience and deliver added value. Start by understanding how customers view and approach your brand, making sure your voice option is ready to meet their needs—on their terms. Continually harness data observing historical patterns to better understand customer intentions and react appropriately in real time. Knowing your customer will go a long way toward making your voice experience the best it can be.

Maximize Advertising- It’s time to get excited about advertising in the age of voice-driven commerce—new mediums will emerge, and name recognition will take the lead. When all that’s required is a few words to place an order, being on the tip of a customer’s tongue could make all the difference.

In a world of invisible interfaces, brands will need to invent new mediums to get their messages mainstream. This wide-open advertising space will provide a bountiful opportunity for hard chargers with creative ideas.

Examine Internal Processes- Customers aren’t the only ones who should benefit from the freedom and flexibility of speaking to machines. Enterprises must take an introspective look to identify where voice interfaces can save time and drive increased production—using far fewer resources.

LOOKING FORWARD

The invisible interface of voice is poised to reshape entire industries while irreversibly altering the business landscape. The possibilities of a voice-driven economy are endlessly promising for those with the foresight to prepare for the coming disruption. The leaders will start now by imaging the scenarios, then programming the processes to connect with customers in the most human-centric manner of all. Visions of ordering your favorite meal with a few words, driving down the highway in your personal assistant doubling as a car, or attending a meeting while stuck in traffic from your hands-free mobile office are quite possibly a lot closer than we imagine.