When most people hear the words “Alexa” or “Siri” they immediately think of voice technology. Voice technology, whether or not you are even familiar with the term, is a large part of people’s everyday lives. Anytime you hear a “press 1 or 2 commands,” order movie tickets over the phone or even dial to check your bank statement, you are utilizing this technology. When it comes to Customer Experience, voice-activation is nothing new. That being said, in the last two years, due to a labor shortage and an increasingly digital world due to the pandemic, voice technology has grown exponentially. There is no doubt that in years to come it will become increasingly sophisticated.
Voice technology has many advantages – one of which is that it is accessible and inclusive for people who do not have the capability to type or even write. It also offers a hands-free alternative for those driving, increasing safety when operating a vehicle. Voice tech responses are also immediate which is very convenient for many simple questions. For example, most would find that asking Google Voice for the daily weather report is much more convenient than having to turn on the weather channel or open a paper.
Interestingly, many predict that Customer Experience will be the industry most impacted by complex voice tech. In fact, a 2020 Statista survey revealed that voice remains the preferred method for customers to contact customer service agents, with 42% of people surveyed identifying that they prefer phone calls to resolve customer service issues.
This said, anecdotally, many people have also reported IVR technology (interactive voice response as in “for English press one, para español oprima dos”) to be clunky and oftentimes even irritating. Therefore, a big question remains: how can companies utilize voice tech, while still remaining connected to customers on a human level?
At Horatio, we answer this question by understanding that digital voice tech should always complement and enhance our services but never replace the human connection provided by our amazing team of agents. This said when we do utilize voice tech we make sure to implement applications that encourage conversations and not just transactions.
What does this mean precisely? Whether it’s a human agent or a digital one, there should be a sense of politeness and conviviality to every conversation. Beyond this, voice technology should always make it easy to access human technology if the customer would rather have this option. Choice is a big word that should be stressed when considering what voice tech to implement.
Finally, companies should embrace the “whys” behind utilizing technology in the first place. For example, is your company implementing voice tech for a multilingual experience for customers? If so, ensure that the service you utilize has the most languages available (and not just a few options). Another possible question could be: are you implementing voice tech to ease the burdens on agents? If so, then it would behoove your team to divide which tasks you can exclusively keep in the hands of human agents rather than voice tech (or the inverse). Let these types of questions be the framework for implementing voice technology and help you utilize it to its highest potential.