Turning full circle on voice: it’s time for brands to be seen and heard

Voice is fast becoming a chief differentiator for brands. Where Firefox has just integrated new voice search plug-ins to regain a competitive edge, non-tech companies including Ryanair have unveiled integration with Alexa enabling customer to search for flights, hotels and flight status via its website.

While Alexa occupies the headlines, voice can feel somewhat distant to consumers who have yet to invest in the product. For the rest of us voice communication will feel familiar from past experiences alone, and there are some hurdles for marketers to face-up to.

The PPI scandal has tainted voice for many. It’s also a blight that could well resurge as we approach the 2019 deadline for all remaining claims. But rather than shy away till the storm subsides, marketers need to tackle the PPI issue head on.

The wave of voice technology we read about in the news cannot be tarred by the same brush as nuisance callers from a soon to be bygone age.

Voice is a highly valuable form of communication. We need to restore consumer faith in voice calls and remove the stigma.

Making the most of the head-start

Our recent survey we conducted with YouGov showed that over a quarter (26%) of Brits are already interacting with day-to-day technology using voice and 71% think it will be used for one or more daily tasks in 10 years’ time.

Helpful, engaging and personalised voice conversations can be a quicker and far more effective solution than ongoing email communication.

In a previous study we discovered that 86% of customers who left their insurance, energy, mobile or banking provider said they would have been more content with the service if had they been contacted in the way that they preferred, in a timely manner (20%).

younger people show a clear appreciation of adopting voice technology

The prospect of using the voice channel appears to appeal across the age demographics too. Younger people show a clear appreciation of adopting voice technology yet, perhaps surprisingly, almost half (48%) of over 55s believe voice will be used for typing on a laptop or smartphone in 10 years’ time compared with only 39% of 18-24 year olds.

Voice technology has won its way to the frontier of marketing right now and it’s about so much more than inputting simple voice commands.

It is has evolved to transcend the limitations of incumbent digital channels to build emotional connections with customers and create real value around a two-way dialogue that tells people what they need to know, as and when they need.

Taking advantage of speed

When we delved further into the details around why people choose to speak to companies rather than use other channels, we found that it’s usually because they need something answered quickly – particularly when they’re speaking to a bank, insurance or utility company.

It’s clear that that voice communications can play a crucial role in brands providing efficient service for customers and building loyalty.

it is now possible to retain a human approach and be just as intelligent

This starts with personal, timely and relevant communication, supported by artificial intelligence, that provides value to the receiver, rather than inconvenience.

The latest technological advancements in this area mean that it is now possible to retain a human approach and be just as intelligent as a customer dialogue.

Not only can AI help to enhance the speed and relevance in which you can reach customers, it can help gather intelligence about how best to reach them in other ways. The right time of day, the type of voice used or knowing what time of year is best to contact specific customers, for example, is valuable insight for any marketer. 

So, while Alexa will continue to dominate the headlines as far as voice technology is concerned, for the marketer, our eyes must be fixed firmly on this channel as a means of opening truly two-way communication.

We are fast entering an age where it is all about our ability to listen to the customer directly about what serves them best and deliver that to the letter in a way that captivates their attention.

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