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Rethinking Voice in a Digital World

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For years, investments in the voice channel have taken a backseat to digital. But thanks to the rise of IoT devices and AI-driven conversational experiences in the consumer realm, organizations must rethink the role of voice. Today, consumers want to engage through channels and devices beyond the phone. With loyalty and revenue at stake, now is the time to reevaluate the role of voice as part of your organization's omnichannel customer engagement strategy.

In a recent Speech Technology magazine webinar, Ian Firth, Vice President of Product for Speechmatics, explains that we tend to be reactive, just adding voice technology such as call center recording because it is what everyone else is doing. He says that there is a thought that harnessing voice technology is a “massive undertaking.” But, he says, that is simply not true anymore. There is a great number of software applications and companies already working in this arena to help streamline the process.

Time to Embrace Voice

There are indirect effects to using good voice technology. “Voice usage is not all about direct monetary value,” says Firth. “It’s all about customer experience and satisfaction.” This can strengthen a brand, and that better engagement can even increase revenue.

Because voice is the most natural way of communicating for people, it allows people to overcome barriers such as typing, spelling, and writing, making the process more accessible for those who have problems with written communication or hearing. 

The way things are said and the environment in which they are said are integral parts of communication that are lost in purely text-based communication. Think of those moments that you have had to ask someone to repeat something for clarification. Voice communication can improve understanding of what is being communicated.

Technology is now able to pick up directly from a previous conversation with the client, creating a consistent and accurate response while at the same time offloading workflows from agents using chatbots.

The 5 Must-Haves for a Modern Voice Experience

Chris Caile, Senior Principal Produce Marketing Manager for Nuance, reiterates that “voice is everywhere” and that we have come a long way from the one-word queries of the past (think of asking for a customer service agent by saying the word “agent”). We can now use longer sentences which allow us to move from “voice commands to conversations.” The “Modern Voice Experience” is made up of several integral components. It must: 

  • be intuitive, to make sense for the user
  • be conversational rather than giving one- or two-word responses
  • be personalized to the user (which is increasingly more possible
  • be predictive and anticipate what the customer needs
  • provide consistent user experience, seamlessly interconnecting all of the channels of communication

AI is currently making all this possible and adding context awareness to better understand how users are interacting with the program over time.

The burden must be shifted “from the user to the system wherever possible,” Caile says.

Experience with everyday conversation does not mean that you can write the software for that conversational experience by yourself. There is always a need for professional help, just as most people would need help when fixing a car or a house.

Privacy Concerns Addressed

Many organizations worry about using voice technology with sensitive customer data, but both Firth and Caile stress that the organizations can decide where they store the data they are collecting and that the software can be run locally, rather than cloud-based, giving companies more control over where that information is stored.

Take a deeper dive into this topic by downloading the webinar and listening on-demand.

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