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Why Every Company Must Have a Voice

Harshad Bajpai

September 20, 2022

Voice AI is one of the most transformative and consequential technologies for Generation Alpha—the first generation raised with voice assistants and unaccustomed to life without them.

The Internet is dazzling with data and stories on how businesses and consumers 

are embracing voice technology; no wonder smart speakers are the fastest-growing consumer technology since smartphones. We are witnessing a voice revolution, as the cutting-edge Voice AI is reinventing the way we shop, and seek customer support. Voice AI will also fuel our undisputed robot-centric future in which the younger generation will converse with smart devices to learn, the elderly will voice-command diagnostic devices, and enterprises will deploy Voice AI agents to answer every customer call.

The Potential Impact: 

A Forbes report revealed that major publishers lost as much as $46,000 a day — for a total of $17 million in 2019 due to the failure of common voice assistants to identify the books consumers intended to purchase. The report makes three things very evident:

  • The voice support stakes are high
  • Disruption is evident
  • Voice-first solutions with cutting-edge capabilities are becoming the need of the hour

With the rapid penetration of edge computing, voice will be used to communicate with IoT, smart devices, and other innovative applications. Business leaders must consider – how the voice movement will affect customers’ support expectations, and the way they interact and shop. And how should their businesses, in turn, reinvent themselves?

Voice truly offers a blue ocean of possibilities!

The Rise of Vertical Voice AI Support and Troubleshooting

A significant transformation is currently taking place on the business side. Every customer call is a chance to either strengthen the relationship with the brand or repair it; Voice AI is empowering companies to answer and resolve every query and develop that much-needed bond with consumers.

Voice AI is enabling call center voice automation – that means answering customer queries in a multi-turn, intelligent conversation without human agent intervention.

The impact is significant in terms of cost, productivity, performance, agility, and top and bottom lines. There is an incredible potential for Voice AI support. Here are a few prominent examples of outcomes contact centers have been able to achieve:

  • 70% automation of customer support efforts
  • 40% reduction in average handling time
  • CSAT scores of over 4.0
  • 50% reduction in operational cost
  • Better CX with 24/7 intelligent support
  • Better customer loyalty due to proper support throughout the customer life cycle 

Organizations can also analyze call center recordings to look for sentiment and tone, deploy voice-enabled surveys, and more. Voice is therefore a treasure trove of value and competitive advantage. 

Voice-First Technology and its Cross-Industry Ripples 

By 2023, nearly 80% of consumer apps will be developed with a “voice-first” philosophy, according to Gartner’s AI and ML Development Strategies Study. This marks a significant shift towards placing voice capabilities at the center of every customer interaction.

Every industry, from gaming to tourism has seen the adoption of  Voice AI. 

Banking:

Several banks are shifting to Voice AI-powered automation for 24/7 intelligent customer support at a fraction of the cost. Even the debt collection space is seeing a rapid uptick in adoption. Big names such as Capital One, Barkleys, and others have been using Voice AI for support. Various large Indian banks in NBFCs are also leveraging the technology for cost-effective and 24/7 customer support. Many smaller players are also adopting Voice AI and have seen remarkable business outcomes.

Consumer Durables: 

CX rules this industry. Millions of customer support calls are made every day. The cost of the support has constantly been rising and consumer durable companies have been scouting for an ideal solution. Many voice AI companies have adopted Voice AI, with huge success. Voice AI has delivered true 24/7 support through intelligent conversations that are cost-effective. With rising use cases such as – inbound call support, feedback and reminder calls, product update calls, and more; Voice AI will see a substantial increase in adoption.

Healthcare

Today, Voice AI is helping adults–in nursing homes and senior living facilities–manage loneliness, isolation, and depression. It is helping patients with Parkinson’s with exercise regimes (Triad Health AI); even ambulances in New England have gone voice-first, eliminating paperwork during emergencies.

Automotive:

The automotive industry is much more voice-first, with all major players from Ford, and BMW to Tesla offering voice assistance. 77 million adults in the U.S. use voice assistants in the car, compared to 45 million adults using in-home smart speakers. With cars increasingly becoming tech-driven, automotive companies will use voice AI more aggressively as the preferred modality of choice.

This is essentially a laundry list; from hospitality to space, voice is all the rage.

The Rise of Smaller, Secure, and Specialized Vertical Voice AI Companies

Google Assistant or Alexa are not the only choices; companies, in addition, prefer small companies with voice tech that supports multi-turn conversations along with a tighter security architecture. Also, when it comes to effectiveness, many Vertical Voice AI vendors specializing in niche use cases outperform tech giants. Debt collection, feedback, rescheduling flights, answering customer FAQs, or sending reminders, new voice AI startups are moving the needle in a big way.

What makes voice appealing: 

  • User Experience and Satisfaction: Nothing comes close to an intelligent and quick conversation that sorts out problems. If a Voice AI-powered agent can work with subtle nuances, and behavior modification to match customer personality, well, customer delight is unparalleled. 
  • It is Faster and Natural:  Not only is speaking natural, it is 3-times faster than typing. Many companies, across industries, have been able to reduce the average handling time of support calls by 40%. Virgin Trains, UK, for instance, reduced their average booking time to 2 minutes from 7 minutes with Voice AI.  
  • It’s frictionless: Instead of opening different apps for different needs; with voice, everything is just an utterance away.
  • It is Your Intelligent and Always-on Mate: New innovations are changing the way products are sold. Talk to a virtual assistant/agent when you drop by your liquor store and Voice AI will help you select wine. British alcohol beverage company, Diageo innovated by investing in voice-led applications and Alexa skills, The Bar. It is created to serve as a user’s personal bartender by recommending cocktail recipes and teaching mixologist techniques. Reimagination is already making its way.
  • Multi-modal Voice Experience: With voice at its center, the future is multimodal. Consumers can use voice commands while they are shopping via TVs or an Alexa device with a screen.

Here are some big challenges retailers and customers will face with voice:

  • Data Privacy. When businesses use Alexa or Google Assistant, in essence, they are giving them access to their offering and that is compelling competitive intelligence. Other challenges such as cloning and data can be mitigated with proper regulations in place.

  • Browsing Difficulty. It is easier to go through a list of search results on a screen, making common product research challenging with voice. But hybrid devices such as smart devices with screens, or navigating shopping with voice on TV can notch up the CX further. 
  • Information Availability: To shop or engage with a brand it is essential to know if it is available in the 3rd party ecosystem. The lack of options/info is a challenge. 
  • Technological Capabilities: Tech is still evolving, and quite a few challenges hamper the experience. Noisy environments, varied accents, pronunciation, languages, and dialects are common challenges that impact conversation quality. On the tech front – barge-in capability, advanced paralinguistic capabilities, processing speeds, and a lot more are required to have enjoyable, human-like conversations.

But even with these given challenges, the strides of voice tech are giant and brisk.

Looking Ahead

Given the ubiquitous nature of voice tech applications, organizations must think of creating a voice interface to cover all of their customer touchpoints. Be voice-ready on smart speakers, voice assistants, websites, apps, customer support, and even in-store experiences. Create a voice that is always present to help your customer; it will help your company be present in new avenues to serve, personalize, and leverage data.

Every company must have a voice!

To learn more about Voice AI and the significance of Voice in coming years book a consultation: www.skit.ai 


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