Voice Technology Matters

2021-04-08 by Jim Crickell

When American fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson said, “What was the point of a little voice? Weren’t voices for being heard?,” he may not have had voice technology like Google Assistant in mind, which this year has already been installed in over a billion devices and climbing. But his quote sure sounds fitting. Voicebot.ai made that startling revelation earlier this year at the Voice Global Conference, held virtually because of the pandemic. The firm also ranked the numerous other voice assistants. Apple’s Siri came in second. 

Why the popularity? 

Blame COVID-19, but also credit improvements in voice recognition accuracy. A Pew Research Center study reported that Google had achieved a 95% accuracy rate for English as of March 2017, which they equated to the same percentage for human accuracy.

According to Voicebot.ai, immediacy in customer service response is paramount. 82% of today’s consumers polled expect it. When Pew did its study, nearly half of Americans (46%) were already using digital voice assistants. In breaking it out by device, Pew reported that the overwhelming number of respondents (42%) relied on their smartphones. Another 14% said they used their computers or tablets, while 8% relied on stand-alone devices. 3% replied that they utilized other devices.

As reported in earlier articles, Gen Z, which will soon make up 40% of our workforce, has also been a key factor in embracing voice recognition. They’re not only comfortable with it but utilize voice apps for nearly everything they do in both their personal as well as professional lives. 

Brand opportunities

The most promising area to harness the power and popularity of voice technology lies in customer service. Chatbots have already taken over duties previously assigned to staff to provide the immediacy consumers demand. A 2018 HubSpot study revealed that 90% of today’s consumers with service questions rate a company’s speed in responding as important or very important.

HubSpot’s research dug a bit deeper and found that more than half of its 1,000 respondents defined “immediate” as ten minutes or less in two important areas. 62% wanted an immediate response on sales calls and another 60% expected the same on service queries. Another 46% wanted marketing questions answered within ten minutes. 

What’s new?

Huge strides have been made to assist brands that implement voice technology to improve customer service and retention. There are tools like Otter.ai and Trint that can transcribe “live” and record customer interactions and conversations. This not only provides possibly valuable transcripts for archival purposes, but saves staff many hours of time it would have taken to transcribe all this data.

In addition to these, there are tools like Cogito that will perform real-time conversational analysis with customers. By interpreting previously programmed cues like energy levels, participations, interruptions and empathy, the program also delivers a customer experience (CX) score, so that humans in customer service staff might better understand before following up with or calling on the customer.

Another device, Signal Discovery, utilizes preprogrammed signals from thousands of calls and speech patterns to deliver insights into conversations customers have with a company. Investments in programs like these may serve to give brands critical insights into how consumers feel and how they might improve their human interactions.

“Your voice is your tool and represents you. It’s very important to have a good voice where you can be understood.” (English actress Jacqueline Bisset)