Today, there are over 15,000 devices that use voice technology. Since the launch of Amazon’s Echo and the Google Home, two things became clear: consumers love voice technology, and they are comfortable using it. For brands, this is a significant opportunity to better engage with customers. The number of sales provided by voice assistants is currently $2 billion, but the OCC 2018 report projects this will grow to $40 billion by 2022.
In this Shop.org session, Eric Bisceglia, the VP of Go-to-Market at Voysis and Shrenik Sadalgi, Director of Next Gen Experiences at Wayfair LLC gave their perspectives on how voice technology can be used to grow commerce and loyalty among customer.
One of the core opportunities of voice technology is bringing your brand to life through the pitch, tone, and rate to effectively convey emotion. How the consumer feels during the interaction is key—62 percent of consumers expect a human-like voice and human-like intellect according to the report Conversation Commerce: Why Consumers Are Embracing Voice Assistants in Their Lives. Additionally, they expect consistency when interacting with each of a brand’s channels, whether it’s voice technology, in-store, or online. The speakers suggest that you need to “find your voice moment.” Figure out when your consumers need you the most—when should you act and which moments should you own?
Another core opportunity in voice technology is using it to build intimate relationships with your customers. Conversational interfaces will allow you to scale human interactions across all channels. And, with your consumers speaking to your more often through the voice technology, you can learn more about how and why they think, feel, and act the way they do. Overall, the empathy developed over time will deepen the relationships you have with your shoppers and improve their value.
Bisceglia found that as many as 30 percent of consumers use voice technology. He adds, “It’s important to step back and dig into what we mean when we say 20 percent or 30 percent.” The 30 percent he’s referring to is much higher than a recent study that revealed only 2 percent of consumers had used their Amazon Echo to purchase an item. When asking consumers if they use voice technology, it’s important to be clear in what you’re asking. “There’s shopping, and then there’s transacting,” says Bisceglia. There’s several tasks voice technology can perform throughout the entire buyer journey outside of completing the actual purchase. Sadalgi adds, “If you have a study of engagement where you broaden the definition, the number would probably be significantly more.”
Like any new technology, it takes companies a while to figure out what it means to their business and how they can leverage it. The power of voice technology is obvious to some companies, like Spotify, but for others, it takes time to determine the best path. Bisceglia notes that smart speakers are only a small part of voice technology—it should be treated as a potential extension of all interfaces.
Bisceglia compares voice technology to TV. Early televisions from the 1920’s only had a few channels, no remote, and could only produce black and white pictures. It took companies 13 years after the invention of the TV to realize the benefit of airing advertisements. Today, televisions have thousands of channels with even more programs, 3D capabilities, and voice technology enabled remotes. “It’s the tip of the iceberg in how we use these technologies,” states Bisceglia.
Pivoting back to the human element of voice technology, the speakers asked the crowd how many of us have thanked our smart speaker. Almost everyone raised their hand. This goes to show that companies like Amazon and Google have successfully integrated humanization in the digital experience. According to Bisceglia and Sadalgi, one of the best examples of voice technology is Domino’s Pizza’s virtual ordering assistant Dom. Via the customer’s mobile device, Dom can take orders, suggest additional items, provide order status, and help locate coupons. Based on the feedback, customers enjoy interacting with Dom.
There’s a ton of hype around voice technology, where do brands start?
Sadalgi suggests, “Don’t do it just to do it… Experimenting is everything.” You need to think about how it can solve a problem for your customers, or how it could be used to align with your brand. Sadalgi adds that the best way to think about it is in terms of how voice will build your brand, not your ROI. “Companies go through evolutions, and they will each use it in their own way,” says Bisceglia. Sephora, for example, started with its chatbot and tied the tone into its in-store systems. The makeup retailer used this technology to learn it customers’ tone and what words they used before building out its own voice technology.
In the future, voice will likely be a bigger part of the ecommerce picture. “If you look at ecommerce platforms, they rely heavily on visual, but is that really what it’s going to be like in ten years?” Visual is still going to be important in the future, but voice will also be a critical component.
As it is today, voice technology is mostly commands, but the complexity of the questions users ask is increasing each day. The code for the technology is often rule-based, but a more robust AI component will allow for more dialog and conversational interactions. If you decide to incorporate voice technology into your ecommerce strategy, the key thing to remember is that “voice is an enabler, it’s not a solution,” says Bisceglia.