Customer communications transformed into conversations ㅡ this is happening.
For brands in pursuit of peak customer convenience, a voice-activated communications strategy deserves another, longer look. Because, if you haven’t noticed, the way brands and their customers communicate has shifted. Outbound marketing monologues are being replaced by customer-initiated dialogues.
There’s a reason 62% of U.S. senior decision-makers are investing in voice technology within the next two years, according to research cited by eMarketer [source 1]. And more than half (53%) of senior marketers say meeting the customer whenever/wherever the customer initiates engagement is a top priority ㅡ only second to creating personalized experiences, according to the CMO Council [source 2].
From utility bills to bank statements, frictionless access to the right information is now the name of the game. If you want to play, it takes meeting customers on their terms. Here’s a closer look at how implementing a clear, voice-activated communications strategy can help your brand get there.
Voice-activated communication is making more sense
From 2017 to 2022, Forrester forecasted smart speaker adoption in U.S households will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34% [source 3]. And nearly two-thirds of Internet users accessing voice assistants do so with their smartphones, according to the Voicebot Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report [source 4].
The steady growth and usage of voice-enabled devices should serve as a wake-up call to brands. Creating near human interactions by combining AI voice technology, user-spoken intents and client transactional document data is simply smart business.
These one-to-one engagements between brand content and intended audiences lead to more efficient two-way communications, reduced inquiries to customer support centers, on-time bill pay, and increases in e-adoption rates. On the CX side, benefits include:
- Access to historical and current statement content with just the sound of their voice
- Delivery of content via popular voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri
- Self-service customer assistance at any time
- Set and receive reminders, status, and updates across all smart devices
Alexa, where do we start?
Before a customer can ever ask, “Alexa, how much more is my gas bill this month compared to last month?“ some legwork behind the scenes is required. Here are four prerequisites to making voice-activated technology viable for your brand.
Do your homework
According to Globant’s 2018 Voice-Activated Technology Business Guide, 35% of senior-level decision makers have researched voice-activated technology “a little bit” but rely heavily on strategies used for other tech investments [source 5]. To build confidence in your investment, you’ll need to answer the big questions:
- What is your competition doing with this technology?
- Can you leverage it in a way that uniquely positions your brand?
- Do you understand how your customers will use voice?
- Can you identify the most common questions customer service receives?
- Which documents should be enhanced with voice first?
Gain buy-in from necessary stakeholders
To do this effectively, set aside time to educate. Invite the right decision makers to a lunch-and-learn and host an expert to speak on the topic. Use this time to connect voice’s capabilities to the company’s business objectives and challenges.
Liberate your data, activate your content
For most organizations, data silos exist. This is most likely due to unaligned initiatives across different marketing teams. Dismantling those silos will help you begin the process of creating a single database of sources.
This centralization will activate your content, making key data elements accessible, calculable, manipulable, and easy to incorporate into a data-driven service or application.
Seek support from the outset (if you need it)
Building the right Alexa Action or Google Skill ㅡ the functions that allow voice assistants to react to user commands and queries ㅡ requires significant IT expertise and industry experience.
Does your organization have the infrastructure in place to implement a voice-activated technology? If not, own up to this as early in the process as possible.
Seek external support with a firm grasp on what’s trending, jargon, regulations, caveats, audience preferences, and industry best practices. Speed-to-market will be an added bonus.
Time to find your voice
By combining verbal communications with existing communication methods, brands are able to increase their customers’ ability to access, understand, and retain content.
The result? Everyday inconveniences are bypassed (e.g., remembering passwords, searching through printed statements, forgetting due dates, finding your reading glasses). Decision making becomes informed. Brand loyalty increases.
With this kind of upside, it’s time for brands to find their voice. What will your voice-activated communications strategy sound like? It’s an important question, because your customers are ready to talk.
Lynne Andrews serves as a Vice President of Product Development for RRD’s Business Communications Solutions division.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Document Strategy.