Voice AI increases employee productiivty
Oct 04, 2022

How to Improve Employee Productivity with Conversational Voice AI

With its machine learning capabilities and ability to deliver both audio and written responses, voice AI is perfectly positioned to become a helper for your employees. When deployed as an employee assistant, voice AI can reduce errors, create greater efficiency, and relieve employees of rote tasks that may lead to boredom and burnout. Greater employee satisfaction often leads to less employee churn, lower costs to hire and train, and better customer service—making your business run more smoothly.

Although voice AI is emerging as the new customer experience—delivering better customer service and creating delight—organizations may be overlooking its usefulness as a tool to increase productivity and efficiency and improve employee experiences.

Let’s take a look at the role of voice assistants as employee helpers in 4 key industries:

When deployed as an employee assistant, voice AI can reduce errors, create greater efficiency, and relieve employees of rote tasks that may lead to boredom and burnout.

1. Voice AI as a floor clerk in retail

The increased popularity of online shopping, closure of brick and mortar stores, and the ongoing labor shortages have created enormous challenges for the retail industry. As soon as store owners overcome one challenge, another seems to be lurking just behind a pandemic or other event.

Employee turnover and lack of trained staff continue to be pain points for retailers. Advances in voice AI technology and the availability of a wider range of solutions offer businesses a new way to address challenges that have been left unsolved for years.

The floor clerk’s assistant

Interrupted workflows are a source of employee frustration and operational inefficiency. Equip your retail floor clerks with a voice-enabled device and they’ll locate items in the store faster, check inventory, communicate with other employees, and even order items online for customers in minutes.

Consider this scenario: A floor clerk is restocking shelves in the homegoods section of the store. A customer approaches the associate to ask about the location of an item that may be found across the store in another section. The employee has two choices (depending on store policy): quit stocking the shelves and walk with the customer to the other end of the store to help find were the item is located or simply tell the customer it is located in another section—possibly leading to greater frustration by a customer who arrives at the new location and discovers the item is out-of-stock.

Using a voice-enabled device, the employee would not have to put down the items they are stocking and would not have to send the customer away. Instead, by simply speaking, the employee could check on the precise location of the item, its availability, price point, and even details such as the colors currently available. In that one simple act, the employee feels less harassed, the customer feels cared for, and the retailer has a better chance of completing a sale and gaining loyalty.

Voice-enabled kiosks in-store

Ongoing labor shortages have exacerbated customer service deficiencies that already exist in some brick and mortar locations. Customers looking for help finding items, getting price information, and locating other colors, sizes, or versions and not being able to locate a floor clerk result in people leaving the store without making a purchase. Voice-enabled kiosks in locations around the store can help alleviate some of the friction and decrease lost sales.

Voice-enabling kiosks is a natural evolution for many in the retail industry who are already using interactive kiosks for a variety of customer service purposes, such as price checking. Adding voice AI technology would further extend the usefulness of these devices by allowing customers to locate items or shop for additional sizes, colors, and products that may not be available in-store and order them, compare product features, and determine product availability.

Voice-enabled kiosks in locations around the store can help alleviate some of the friction and decrease lost sales.

2. An always-on concierge and front desk clerk in hospitality

Hotels and QSRs are facing unprecedented challenges in finding and retaining enough employees to perform all the customer service and food preparation tasks required to provide the kind of service their customers are demanding. Recent labor shortages have made it difficult to keep a full staff of employees, while overworked staff are experiencing burnout and leaving jobs as a result. The Great Resignation has hit the restaurant and hotel industries the hardest and businesses are struggling under the weight of customer expectations with no way to meet them.

The leisure and hospitality industry has had the highest quit rate since July 2021, consistently above 5.4 percent. 

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Quit Rates by Industry

Add to these woes, the need for greater hygiene and safety for guests and employees, and you have the perfect recipe for a voice AI solution, or combination of solutions.

The guest experience actually begins before they arrive at the property. Whether making a reservation, calling in ahead to confirm, or making a change or request for their arrival, guests don’t often have the time or patience to wait on hold until a guest services employee can help them. To add to their frustration, guests often call a general number for a group of properties and reach someone who can’t actually help them with their request.

Having a dedicated voice assistant on the property to answer the phone and resolve issues associated with the property where the guest will be staying is the first step to creating loyalty among your customers

Once in the hotel, guests can use self-service stations, like voice-enabled kiosks to check-in and make restaurant reservations, order extra towels, or get room service delivered. Upon entering their room, the experience can continue with voice-activated smart devices—including light switches, thermostats, and even blinds. A voice-enabled smart TV in the room allows guests to get more hotel amenity information, make reservations, order room service, get the weather, and find things to do outside of the hotel. They might even book their next stay.

Voice AI for hospitality

Giving employees a voice-enabled assistant to answer calls, take orders, and keep reservations up to date, will shorten the line to the front desk in your lobby and result in greater employee satisfaction.

3. Agent assistants in contact centers

When the pandemic hit, contact centers experienced unprecedented call volumes, agent burnout, and customer frustration. Since then, labor shortages, the necessity to work from home, and a new focus on quality of life and work have left call centers understaffed and overloaded.

Voice assistants bring great efficiencies to contact centers. They can make real-time decisions, answer follow-up questions with ease, and quickly transfer calls to the appropriate agent when the human touch is required. Once the call has been transferred, the voice assistant can provide the agent with all necessary information about who the caller is and what they need help with. Adding a layer of AI to the call center increases efficiency while decreasing caller annoyance with having to repeat answers to questions that were asked earlier in the call. 

Legacy IVR centers with their complicated and multi-layered menu systems have done little to alleviate the friction. Voice AI technology is already stepping in to take over the initial call response and route customers to the right service center agent.

The next step in this improved user experience is to assist the agent during the call. Using machine learning and AI capabilities, the voice assistant can perform a variety of functions, including:

  • Providing the information already shared by the caller
  • Suggesting solutions, products, and other helpful actions
  • Detailing customer history, purchases, and previous calls
  • Providing real-time transcriptions—even as the caller and agent are talking
  • Archiving accurate call transcriptions with topic identification to inform business decisions

Consistency in customer service is essential for call centers, and voice assistants can do the heavy lifting to reduce wait times and provide faster, more accurate service while making call center agents more effective, less stressed, and more likely to remain in their job.

4. Information hubs for field service

The deskless workforce is underserved by technology advancements. Due to the mobile and hands-on nature of their jobs, many field technicians are still taking notes by hand or referring to paper manuals to complete installation or repairs.

In a world where workers’ hands are always busy and keeping focus on their work may be a matter of job safety, voice assistants provide the hands-free, eyes-free interface they need to make their jobs easier, more efficient, and safer.

During field service calls, technicians may be required to take note of conditions or record specific measurements. This may require removing gloves to make notations or quickly scribbling notes to avoid taking their hands out to the job they are trying to do. A voice-enabled device allows them to do both while increasing accuracy and efficiency.

Voice assistants provide the hands-free, eyes-free interface they need to make their jobs easier, more efficient, and safer.

Inspections and repairs often require technicians to follow a prescribed set of tasks in a set order. Forgetting a step or conducting the repair out of order can result in lost time and poor results. A voice assistant can provide step-by-step guidance while recording repair data and providing maintenance history.

Other voice AI use cases for field service workers include:

  • Hands-free communications with other teams
  • Job completion and assignment information
  • Voice-enabled tools 
  • Automatic invoicing
  • Parts ordering and replacement

As Eric Turkington noted in his blog, Why Energy and Utility Workers Should Add Voice Solutions to Their Toolbox,“Employee-facing solutions need not be considered in isolation from customer-facing voice experiences. Indeed, they may work beautifully in concert, tapping into the same domain knowledge, such that a particular customer’s issue could be understood and relayed by a voice assistant to a technician, who is then guided through resolution. A voice assistant that sits at the intersection of the customer and the workforce is well-positioned to take friction out of both sides of the equation.”

From contact centers, websites, and mobile apps for businesses across industries to customer interfaces for retail, restaurants, hotels, and products of all shapes and sizes, convenience and hands-free operation are disrupting how we think about interacting with the world around us. Now, using only our voices, we can get so much more accomplished, anywhere and at any time without needing to lift a finger. 

Organizations focused on the customer experience are sometimes slow to see voice AI as a tool for improving employee productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction. In fact, advances in voice AI technology position it perfectly to help solve a wide range of business challenges, including labor shortages, device functionality, and service center friction. 

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 or speak with an expert or request a demo below.

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