5 ways to elevate customer experences

By Karen Scates

Sep 03, 2019

5 Keys to Elevating Customer Experiences with a Branded Voice Assistant

In the future, brands will be as recognizable by their ‘sounds’ as by the sight of their logos and taglines. The challenge for product innovation leaders will be to implement voice user interfaces (VUIs) that accurately reflect the brand’s uniqueness and attributes, while delivering exceptional customer experiences that result in brand loyalty.

Voice AI is already helping market leaders do this. According to a study by Pindrop, 94% of IT and business decision makers said they expect to be using voice AI with customers by 2021 and felt that voice technology is an important driver of customer satisfaction. A vast majority (88%) also believe a voice interface can deliver a competitive advantage.

The rapid adoption of smart speakers and the growing shift from keyboard searches to voice searches on the internet are indicators that human-to-machine interactions are rapidly moving to voice.

Best-in-class companies like HarmanMercedes-Benz and Pandora are already using voice assistants to elevate their brands, deepen relationships with customers and grow market share. In our recent VUI Best Practice Guide, we present in-depth advice and best practices for building a voice user interface, along with tips from industry leaders.

Here are five keys to extending your brand through a VUI, according to the experts:

1. Have an engaging personality

What does your brand sound like? Creating a voice interface that embodies your brand and your customer is the greatest and most important challenge of integrating voice into your product. Begin with a branded wake word to retain control over your brand image and user experience, and increase product name affinity. For instance, the wake words “Hey Mercedes,” “Hey Pandora” and “OK Hound” afford their brands the instant name recognition that’s not possible when third-party VUIs with their generic wake words are used.

Based on your business goals and company mission statement, design a brand persona that is reflective of your values and your customers. To do that, you’ll need to make decisions about the specific characteristics and personality of your brand’s voice assistant, including gender, age and race. Be sure to know why you’ve made the decisions you’ve made and be prepared to explain your choices.

2. Be customer-centric

Keeping your customer at the center of your voice design is critical to implementing a voice interface able to respond appropriately based on the user’s situation, emotional state and desired outcomes. The ultimate goal is to create a voice assistant that’s personalized, authentic, human and relatable.

Carefully consider the tone and pitch of the voice that will be interacting with your customers. When creating a brand personality for your voice interface, remember that people relate best to others who sound and act the most like themselves.

How well your voice interface is able to put questions into context and answer them based on location and intent helps truly elevate customer experiences to the next level. A customer-centric approach to product interactions will help you anticipate your users’ needs and requests beyond just the questions they ask.

3. Keep it natural

People don’t like to talk to computers, especially ones that don’t understand them. Advances in natural language processing for voice interfaces have greatly reduced the barriers to adoption among people in all demographic groups. However, until adoption is 100%, designers of products with voice interfaces will have to find more ways to break down those barriers through the strategic use of small talk, banter and humor. Finding the right mix for your brand will depend largely on your audience and your understanding of their pain points.

“You want it to be natural, conversational. Our vision was that the voice assistant is like that music expert friend that really knows you.” – Ananya Sharan, Product Manager, Pandora – Voice Mode

Following VUI best practices that include continual research, voice iterations and user testing, you can collect critical insights into those areas where your system is not meeting your customers’ needs. Based on real data from your users, product designers can modify voice responses to sound more natural and in tune with your customers’ unique needs and expectations.

4. Be a teacher and a guide

Are your customers getting the greatest value from your VUI? It depends. If they don’t know how to use it or only have a surface understanding of its capabilities, they’re not likely to find out what else it can do on their own.

Building learning tools and prompts into your system will help with user adoption and satisfaction. Follow learning best practices, and present additional features or options in small chunks that don’t interfere with the experience or overwhelm users with more information than they can process.

Since we first store all new learning in our short-term memory, deliver helpful hints in short bursts followed by a specific action that will move the new learning to the user’s long-term memory.

5. Find the right partner

One of the greatest challenges businesses face today is the ability to hire the right talent at the right time. The importance of having the right person in place is just as important as finding the right partner and platform to help bring your voice strategy to life.

For your customer, interacting with your VUI should be akin to chatting with the most personable, witty and empathetic customer service representative on your payroll. Not only should your VUI answer questions, provide support and move conversations along, it must be able to do so using natural language and with the speed and accuracy we expect from human interactions. Not all Voice AI platforms can do that.

Reduce customer frustration and encourage continued engagement by turning a bad experience into a delightful one by choosing the right Voice AI platform to help you deliver truly meaningful and memorable customer experiences.

The market saturation of voice-enabled products will create new challenges for companies looking to differentiate themselves from competitors. Those who are able to provide the most natural, easy and memorable voice experiences will become known for their brand voice as much as for their products. Market leaders are already implementing VUIs that deliver unique and delightful customer experiences that create brand affinity and grow market share.

Discover how your team can build a better voice user interface with advice from brands like Pandora, Mercedes-Benz, RAIN, Voxable and Marvee in this comprehensive VUI Best Practice Guide.

Karen Scates is a storyteller with a passion for helping others through content. Argentine tango, good books and great wine round out Karen’s interests.

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