How Virtual Assistants Up-level the Brand Experience

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What does it take to become preferred by customers? Focus on up-leveling the brand experience—essentially, any experiences customers have with your brand. That was the focus of Michael Vickers' opening keynote presentation at the SpeechTEK conference (in August). Vickers, executive director of Summit Learning Systems and author of Becoming Preferred: How to Outsell Your Competition, said that instead of only focusing on products or price, organizations must focus on creating great customer experiences.

To do this, companies should identify their customers' stress and "make it go away," he said, adding that "companies that identify a stress and remove it can charge a premium."

He maintained that to become preferred, organizations must focus on delivering three distinctive values: product, service, and knowledge. They must also focus on value as the customer defines it. According to Vickers, there are five customer values: money, time, prestige, reliability or security, and knowledge.

"People will pay a premium to save time," he said. Regarding prestige, he added, "People will pay a premium to feel special." As for reliability, he said, "People will pay a premium for quality." And, finally, he added, "Knowledge trumps all. If you partner with knowledge, your value becomes distinctive."

With this in mind, some innovative solutions were showcased at SpeechTEK that not only promise organizational efficiencies and lower customer service costs, but improved customer experiences as well. A couple of mobile virtual assistants were announced at the conference—Nuance's Nina and Angel's Lexee.

Nina will bring Siri-like capabilities to mobile customer service apps—a capability that Nuance says "will change the face of mobile customer service forever."

In a video demo, Nuance featured a woman hailing a cab and asking Nina, "Can I get on an earlier flight to Boston?" Nina replies, "Yes. There is space available on flight 1215, departing at 2:45." As she's about to enter the cab, the woman responds, "Perfect. Book it."

Now, that's convenience. And it quickly addresses two customer values that Vickers mentioned—knowledge and time. For more information about Nuance's mobile virtual assistant, read "Siri, Meet Nina".

Angel's Lexee addresses the same customer values, but is currently focused on the enterprise market. For example, Lexee enables Salesforce.com users to access customer records through their Salesforce.com mobile application. Users can verbally request information and reports and update customer account information.

Nina and Lexee use voice biometrics to authenticate each user's voiceprint and, as a result, enable businesses to deliver secure interactions (another customer value) that are tailored to each user.

These advances will not only "up-level" brand experiences, as Vickers suggests, but the industry as a whole.

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