Voice assistant
May 12, 2022
5 MIN READ

How Brand-Owned Voice Assistants Offer Key Advantages

For manufacturers and brands across industries, the imperative to provide a voice user interface is understood. What isn’t as clear is how to get there. Challenges, such as cost, time to market, and aligning to overall business goals, are some of the reasons many companies continue to “wait and see.” However, the market is growing, and more companies are voice-enabling their products, devices, and services, creating connections with users, setting the standard for exceptional experiences, and gaining market share. 

Those who entered the voice-first era as early adopters are seeing the ROI on their investments, and brands that partnered with an independent platform provider to develop a brand-owned voice assistant are already looking to the next phase of their voice-first journey—monetization. 

Alternatively, companies that decided to “rent” an existing voice assistant from a big tech player have had to see their products, brands, and customer relationships intermediated by a voice assistant that they can’t control and data they can’t access. Deciding whether to build, “rent”, or partner is a critical choice that will influence how your customers interact with your brand and how you continue to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Want to learn more about the critical decision of whether to build, “rent”, or partner for a branded voice assistant? Check out our upcoming webinar

Branded voice experiences lead to greater ROI

Screenshot of Project Voice

As voice assistants continue to rise in both demand and popularity, a sound wave is sweeping through both consumer expectations and brand needs. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of how conversational AI gives users the convenience, ease, and speed they crave, but many are still debating the best avenue to achieve their goal—to build, “rent”, or partner.

Brand-owned voice assistants provide many key advantages, including: 

  • Owning user experiences
  • Retaining customer relationships
  • Having visibility into critical data and analytics
  • Generating real value 

The insights gained from aggregated data collected through conversational intelligence provides brands with critical information to better understand their customers’ needs, improve the voice experience, and inform their product and customer service roadmaps. 

In addition, when brands own their technology and control their data, brand confidence can be further developed when privacy policies are transparently communicated and users can be assured that data is anonymized and not shared with other companies or used for marketing purposes. 

Brand-owned voice assistants give companies the opportunity to extend their brand across channels and the flexibility to customize the voice experience to meet their customers’ needs and desires. Only when brands own their voice experience can they open the door to monetization opportunities that deliver real revenue opportunities.

Forming a strategy for your brand-owned voice assistant

Screenshot of Project Voice

Voice assistants aren’t a one-and-done project, but an ever-evolving strategy that should be continuously iterated and improved. Even before thinking about what the voice assistant will sound like, organizations must consider why they are voice-enabling their product, app, or service. A well-constructed voice AI strategy and buy-in from strategic stakeholders are critical to how they’ll design and develop their voice experience.

Here are some good questions to consider when developing a strategy:

  • What are my customers’ needs and desires?
  • How should my voice assistant reflect my brand?
  • How can my voice assistant deepen customer relationships?
  • How can I deliver real business value?

A great deal of user testing should be done at every stage of developing your voice assistant to best learn how to meet your customer needs and to discover what they’re expecting from your voice assistant. Your strategy should both look at the ROI of a voice assistant and the relationship with a customer. Only through a brand-owned voice assistant will you have the access to data and analytics to make these informed decisions. 

Deploying a brand-owned voice assistant is either a build-it-yourself or a build-it-with-a-partner strategy. In making this decision, companies must determine the level of investment and expertise in technology and engineering they can provide to decide whether it’s right for them to build their own voice interface or partner with a voice AI platform provider, with proven technologies and solutions.

Deploying a brand-owned voice assistant is either a build-it-yourself or a build-it-with-a-partner strategy. 

Companies may decide to combine some of the technology of a platform partner—like ASR or wake word—with their own in-house expertise, or they may decide they want to get to market faster and opt in to partner for the entire voice experience. As SoundHound’s CEO, Keyvan Mohajer, likes to say, “It generally takes companies up to 3 years of trying to build it themselves to discover that it takes 10 years to develop a conversational voice assistant.”

It generally takes companies up to 3 years of trying to build it themselves to discover that it takes 10 years to develop a conversational voice assistant.”

Keyvan Mohaje
SoundHound Co-Founder and CEO

When organizations work with a voice AI partner to design and develop a voice assistant with their users and their own company and product goals in mind, they realize true business value and benefit through a voice AI experience that can grow with them as they enter new markets, geographies, and expand into omnichannel voice experiences.

Industries that benefit from custom voice assistants

Project Voice Presentation

Enterprises and organizations across industries can benefit from brand-owned voice assistants. The automotive industry was an early adopter of voice assistants, but the growing ubiquity of voice assistants is fueling a meteoric rise in conversational AI solutions for products, apps, and services for companies spanning all industries, geographies, and sizes. Today, every company needs a voice strategy and a path toward its own conversational AI experiences.

In the business sector, voice assistants are taking a leading role in customer-facing applications—literally becoming the voice of the brand. As such, they are taking on the part of call center agents, sales representatives, greeters, operators, order takers, and other public-facing functions. 

Hardware manufacturers and OEMs in key industries are well on their way to established voice-enabled products, and for the growing number of IoT devices that have a small, inexpensive microphone—but don’t have the physical or economical room for a mouse, keyboard, or touch screen—conversational AI is a natural and economical interface.

Voice assistants are providing a vehicle through which companies can form deeper connections with their customers. Pandora is one of SoundHound’s partners and is a great example of how a brand uses voice to improve the experience of something people were already using voice to accomplish: listening to music.

Voice assistants are providing a vehicle through which companies can form deeper connections with their customers

Through their partnership with SoundHound, Pandora voice-enabled their music streaming service and implemented a custom wake phrase, “Hey Pandora.” From the beginning, Pandora’s goal was to deliver a laid-back music listening experience. Their partnership with SoundHound has given them the data and analytics insights they need to continue to improve that experience and even offer purchasing opportunities to their listeners through unobtrusive, interactive voice ads.

Through their partnership with SoundHound, Pandora voice-enabled their music streaming service and implemented a custom wake phrase, “Hey Pandora.”

Today, companies have the choice to build on their own, combine technology from a variety of vendors, partner with an end-to-end independent conversational AI platform provider, or “rent” an experience from one of the large voice AI technology companies with existing voice assistants—such as Google or Amazon. The decision to build, “rent”, or partner to craft voice experiences will determine which companies can grow their conversational AI offerings to other channels and expand to include more languages, geographies, and products that will be limited by the technology and data they don’t manage and can’t control.

Innovation and customization will be the keys for brands hoping to successfully voice-enable everything from washing machines to manufacturing equipment and vehicles. Additional choices, including whether to access the cloud for connectivity, will open the door to more possibilities for more brands. Options like these will only be available to organizations that decide to opt into brand-owned voice assistants.

Getting stakeholder buy-in for your conversational AI

Screenshot of Project Voice

The initiative to embark on a voice-first journey with a custom, branded voice assistant can begin in many places within an organization. Initially, engineering leads, heads of innovation, or research and development teams surfaced the need to voice-enable products and mobile apps. As voice assistants became ubiquitous, business and product leaders started to look to conversational intelligence as a path to grow customer loyalty, increase product functionality, and deliver real revenue.

Initially, engineering leads, heads of innovation, or research and development teams surfaced the need to voice-enable products and mobile apps.

With this awareness came the realization that they could not realize these goals without a brand-owned voice assistant that would give them the freedom and flexibility to own their voice and product roadmap, have insights into data and analytics, and build omnichannel voice experiences that would represent their brands. Now, the imperative to add a conversational assistant into the company roadmap is often driven by members of the C-suite focused on brand sovereignty, maintaining a competitive advantage, and meeting company-wide goals.

Brand-owned voice assistants offer many key advantages to user experiences and brands looking to stay competitive and relevant. Having conversational AI that delivers exceptional interactions, a strategy that supports your brand, and stakeholder buy-in will ensure that your voice assistant is differentiated from the growing market and set up for success. 

At SoundHound, we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore SoundHound’s independent voice AI platform at SoundHound.com and register for a free account here. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

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