Conversational voice assistant uses
Jul 23, 2021
7 MIN READ

Who Wants a Conversational Voice Assistant?

If you’re a leader of innovation, working in UX design, product design, and development, or guiding your company’s sonic branding or customer satisfaction teams, you probably already understand the imperative to put voice AI on your company roadmap. If you’re still wondering whether or not your customers feel the same urgency, rest assured that they do. In fact, nearly 60% of your customers are voice assistant users, and 68% of consumers are interested in how the technology will develop in the future. According to a recent report by Vixen Labs, voice AI has become a global phenomenon with implications across industries.

“Voice isn’t going anywhere. It’s time to get ready.”

Vixen Labs

Voice assistant technology has its roots in creating hands-free convenience in the home. According to the report, people are still most comfortable using their voice user interfaces in private places, including in their homes and cars. One explanation for the reluctance to use a voice interface in other settings may be the need for personal space and privacy (only 27% feel comfortable using their voice assistant in public). Another may be that nearly half (45%) of people aren’t sure what use cases are available through their voice assistant, according to the report.

The widespread usage of voice assistants across platforms and the public’s appetite to understand the current and future potential for voice assistants and to expand their use cases indicate a huge, untapped  opportunity for businesses across industries to use voice AI as a differentiator.

Based on current usage and use cases, we’ve identified 9 types of consumers who are already seeking better experiences from voice user interfaces in devices, mobile apps, and communications centers—including customer service and dispatch centers.

  1. Drivers
  2. People seeking touchless interfaces 
  3. People who work with their hands
  4. Customers looking for information and resolution
  5. Anyone searching for information and purchasing options
  6. People who need transcriptions 
  7. Mobile app users
  8. Machinery operators
  9. People in every generation and with different abilities

Voice assistants for drivers

According to the Vixen Labs report, 72% of people are already using a voice assistant while driving. While some of those people are relying on their smartphone with a Bluetooth interface, automakers are already responding to the need for hands-free access to the cloud with their own voice assistants.

72% of people are already using a voice assistant while driving.

Vixen Labs Report

What began as a luxury experience for drivers of high-end vehicles—like Mercedes-Benz—is moving into everyday vehicles, including Hyundai’s Elantra and Elantra Hybrid models. These vehicles offer much more than simple navigation, texting, and calling. Using the in-car assistant, drivers can control functionality within the cockpit of the car—lights, temperature, windows—as well as seek information from the cloud that includes parking information, sports scores, and stocks.

Using the voice assistant experience as an extension of the brand and a way to establish customer loyalty is critical for automakers, most of which are constantly seeking to add features that provide differentiation in a very competitive market.

Greater hygiene and touchless experiences

The healthcare industry is a natural fit for hands-free interfaces. Healthcare professionals are often multitasking while simultaneously interacting with devices and patients, washing their hands frequently, and putting gloves on and off. 

In addition to the healthcare professionals, patients both in clinics and in the hospital can benefit from hands-free access to elevators, directory kiosks, hospital room controls—including TV, curtains, lights, and bed—and helpful voice assistants in a variety of locations.

Patients both in clinics and in the hospital can benefit from hands-free access to elevators, directory kiosks, hospital room controls.

Almost as critical, is the need for greater guest safety and hygiene in the hospitality sector. The pandemic set off alarms for travelers concerned about touching public surfaces, being in crowded areas, and interacting with strangers to complete transactions. In addition, the growing demand for more convenience and the ability to complete transactions easily and independently are driving hotels and restaurants to automate processes with voice-enabled kiosks and POS systems.

Hands-free allows for greater flexibility

Whether at work or at home, people are always looking for ways to free their hands to perform tasks while getting instructions and information, communicating with others, or recording. For those with jobs that take them away from the office—such as repair technicians, construction workers, transportation engineers, and public safety officers—a computer is not at the center of their workspace. Being able to get and record information while using their hands to perform other tasks allows the deskless workforce to be more efficient. Hands-free access to an input device can also reduce errors and eliminate the need for workers to stop what they are doing to interact with the devices in their workspace.

Being able to get and record information while using their hands to perform other tasks allows the deskless workforce to be more efficient.

In the home, hands-free convenience is already becoming a part of how we get information, listen to music, and set timers. As voice assistants grow in ubiquity, smart home technology will evolve to include voice user interfaces that allow people to go about their daily lives and interact with the devices in the home by simply talking.

Getting answers and eliminating wait times

Call centers and IVR systems have been at the center of the voice AI conversation for some time. From a business perspective, call centers can be expensive to run and still not achieve the goals of increasing customer satisfaction. Frustration over long wait times, complicated menu systems that don’t address the reason for the call, and agents who don’t have the necessary information to help resolve the issue without advancing the call to a different agent or manager have led most people to avoid calling in to get support. Instead, they search on the web and attempt to solve their issues through every other possible channel—including complaining on social media channels to get a response.

The recent pandemic put an even greater strain on these systems, causing many of them to include recorded messages about extended wait times—further enraging customers whose impatience and frustrations were amplified by their own elevated levels of anxiety during a time of uncertainty.

Voice assistants in call centers alleviate friction and frustration of everyday call center requests and help brands avoid delayed response times during periods of high call volume. In addition, implementing a voice AI strategy in the call center environment allows brands to deliver faster, more accurate responses and greater levels of personalization.

Voice assistants in call centers alleviate friction and frustration of everyday call center requests and help brands avoid delayed response times during periods of high call volume. 

Voice search and voice commerce

According to the report by Vixen Labs, a growing number of people are using voice assistants to search for information on products and services with 50% engaging regularly or sometimes for the purpose of discovering products to meet their needs. A large percentage (44%) of voice users reported that they are likely to search for information from the retail industry, and 39% want to search for food and delivery options. Consumer packaged goods, travel, and making reservations each account for approximately one-third of likely voice search behaviors.

44% of voice users reported that they are likely to search for information from the retail industry, and 39% want to search for food and delivery options.

Vixen Labs Report

As voice assistants continue to improve and companies implement voice AI technology that’s able to understand conversational language, complex sentences, and remember context, voice search will continue to grow as a preferred method of getting information about products, food, and local services. Voice commerce opportunities that don’t disrupt the user experience will naturally follow as voice AI platform providers find ways to connect hardware and device manufacturers with businesses and content domain providers to facilitate the flow of revenue.

Accurate transcriptions provide real-time report generation

Whether you need a transcription of a meeting to share with absent members, a written version of a podcast, or a permanent record of a legal proceeding or medical treatment, accuracy is key to understanding the resulting written content. 

Accurate transcription can be the difference between, “The meeting has been canceled and is scheduled for next Thursday,” and “The meet in today has been capital an is skidoo for next Thursday.” While you may get the gist of what has been said, the accuracy has been lost.

Features such as customized vocabulary and pronunciation, automatic punctuation, speaker ID and verification, and a range of connectivity options provide users with superior speech-to-text accuracy. Without these features and advanced Natural Language Understanding (NLU) components, transcription solutions can result in frustrations and miscommunications at the minimum—and inaccuracies that can create real challenges in industries such as healthcare and legal at their worst.

Features such as customized vocabulary and pronunciation, automatic punctuation, speaker ID and verification, and a range of connectivity options provide users with superior speech-to-text accuracy.

Voice-enabled mobile devices

According to the Vixen Labs report, an overwhelming majority of people are using a voice assistant while on their phone. A report by 99firms also reported that 52% of U.S. smartphone owners have used voice assistants on mobile devices. While many consumers are entering the voice experience through the native voice assistant resident on the phone, a majority (56%) are already showing a willingness to continue to use voice interfaces as they move into individual mobile apps.

52% of U.S. smartphone owners have used voice assistants on mobile devices.

99firms

Voice-enabled mobile apps reduce the friction for customers navigating through complex menu trees and the frustration of not finding the exact filters required to get to the desired location on the app. Through a voice user interface, UX designers can add more functionality and expand the number of available features and capabilities free from the limitations of a physical interface—unlocking possibilities and delighting users.

Voice control improves health and safety on the job

Construction workers and healthcare professionals have at least one thing in common: the need to operate machinery that presents health risks to the operator. 

Creating a hands-free environment for healthcare providers solves a multitude of challenges and increases efficiency and speed of care. By adding voice AI to the equipment and environment, surgeons, nurses, and other practitioners can focus on providing care and services hands-free—thereby improving patient experiences and positive outcomes.

By adding voice AI to the equipment and environment, surgeons, nurses, and other practitioners can focus on providing care and services hands-free—thereby improving patient experiences and positive outcomes.

In construction and industries like energy and utility where workers are called to make repairs and install equipment, workers are underserved by technology that can help them do their jobs more efficiently, safely, and accurately. Now, voice AI—excelling in situations where hands and eyes are occupied—is emerging as a new tool for these employees to leverage. 

Voice assistants democratize technology

For the very young and the older generations, voice assistants can make lives easier, safer, and less lonely. According to a survey by Project Zilver, older adults are more comfortable using their voices instead of swiping and typing on screens that aren’t that forgiving to failing eyesight and arthritic joints. They also found that 69% of the 3,450 respondents of our survey already use smart tech in their homes, and 22% of those same people already control some devices by voice.

69% of the 3,450 respondents of our survey already use smart tech in their homes, and 22% of those same people already control some devices by voice.

Project Zilver

In the workplace and in public places, eliminating the need for people to access keyboards and physically interact with technology provides greater accessibility for people with different abilities and creates an environment of inclusion. 

The folks at Vixen Labs summarized their findings with these key takeaways:

  • Voice assistants are becoming part of all consumers’ habits and will soon become routine
  • Voice is a global phenomenon—it’s no longer led by one market
  • Voice is the next phase of search, SEO, and soon SEM—and a new platform for streamlined, habit driven applications
  • If you have a brand with products, locations, or content—unless you optimize it, consumers won’t find you via voice
  • Voice is going to affect your digital ecosystem—this isn’t just about putting your existing app or content on a smart speaker
  • You need to be thinking about how a voice consumer is going to find you through voice but then connect with you via the web
  • Voice isn’t going anywhere. It’s time to get ready

If you’re ready to put voice AI on your product roadmap, we have all the tools and expertise needed to create conversational voice assistants and deliver a consistent brand voice. Explore Houndify’s independent voice AI platform at Houndify.com and register for a free account. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

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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