Data Transparency for Voice Assistants
Mar 29, 2022
5 MIN READ

Why Data Transparency is a Must-Have for Your Voice Assistant

There are many elements to consider when creating a voice assistant—voice personas, processing power, connectivity options, and cost. For some brands, access to data and analytics is often not at the top of the list or front of mind, but it should be. Full access to data is a crucial element that affects everything from improving your voice assistant and controlling privacy to long-term costs and competitive advantages. Without access to user data, you could be completely in the dark about how your users are responding to your voice assistant, product, or service—good or bad. 

Many big tech voice AI providers (such as Google and Alexa) entice brands with lower costs and faster implementations. The costs of implementation include subordinating your brand to theirs and relinquishing visibility into valuable customer data and analytics. Insights that can be used by either party to create and improve a product offering or understand customer desires and pain points.

When mapping out a voice AI strategy to voice-enable devices or mobile apps, it’s vital to know who has visibility into your customer data, how much access you’ll have over time, and who will be determining your voice assistant experience in the long-term. In addition to improving your voice experience, data transparency provides critical insights that may cause unintended consequences if shared with another entity.

Ready to learn more? Let’s examine the following questions around data:

  1. Why is access to data and analytics so important?
  2. How do you get full access to your voice assistant’s data?
  3. What data from your voice assistant should be analyzed?
  4. How do you gather data transparently and ethically?

Why data and analytics a crucial piece of a conversational AI strategy

Independent voice AI platforms provide access to a level of data and analytics that would otherwise be closed when partnering with a big tech voice AI provider. Voice assistants are never a one-and-done project. Voice experiences can be continuously improved and product insights gleaned when brands have visibility into what successes users are having with the voice user interface, where they hit friction, and what they expect from the voice assistant and the product.

Without access to data and analytics, a company may not know that the accuracy level decreases with certain accents, which questions users are asking that aren’t being answered accurately, where customers are experiencing frustration with the voice assistant, or even that users are expecting more humor in their interactions. This information is essential to staying competitive in the market and growing a voice experience that reflects your brand and customer desires.

With access to data also comes the ability to control how that data is being used and who is seeing it. If another company owns the data, they may not be transparent about what data is collected, if they are selling users’ information, or if they are using it for their own marketing purposes. With data transparency and control over how it is used, brands can build better relationships with users, form trust, and create personalized experiences by being clear about what happens after users opt-in. 

If another company owns the data, they may not be transparent about what data is collected, if they are selling users’ information, or if they are using it for their own marketing purposes.

There are also long-term costs of not having access to data that may not be apparent when considering voice assistant options. It may be enticing to partner with a voice AI provider that has little to no upfront cost, but the end result could be creating a future competitor. Since the third party will have all access to all of your data, they will be able to study product usage and trends to eventually create their own voice interface on a competing product that has all of the improvements you didn’t know your voice assistant needed. They may even release it at a lower price point, effectively pushing your product out of the market. 

Full access to data may be a fine print element to your voice AI strategy, but it is vital for improving your voice assistant, controlling how the data is being used, and not giving competitors all the information they need to create a superior product. 

How to get full access to your voice assistant’s data

Now that we’ve answered the why, let’s take a look at the how. In order to get full access to your voice assistant’s data, you need to either build the voice assistant yourself or partner with an independent voice AI platform provider that offers custom voice assistants. Custom voice assistants have a myriad of benefits, including custom wake words, advanced technology, a library of content domains, customization opportunities, and, of course, full access to data. 

Some companies may wish to build the voice assistant themselves, while others may want to capitalize on the proven technology of an independent voice AI platform. Voice AI technology can take years of testing and iterations to get market ready—time competitors could use to build relationships with users. A voice AI provider with a proven track record, expertise, and experience is a great way to have access to your data while reducing time to market. 

Many top-tier brands, including Snap Inc., Bank of America, and McDonald’s, are already investing in custom voice assistants. Learn more about ‘The State of Custom Assistants in 2022’ in this in-depth article by RAIN Agency

Want to learn more about the benefits of customized voice assistants, including data ownership? Watch our webinar, “The Shift to Customized Voice Assistants: How Will You Compete?” with speakers Mike Zagorsek, COO of SoundHound, Dan Miller, Lead Analyst and Founder of Opus Research, Nithya Thadani, CEO of RAIN Agency, and Derek Top, Research Director of Opus Research.

Insights from voice AI data

Improving your voice assistant based on data is essential to stay ahead of the competition, respond to users’ needs, and differentiate your voice assistant in the growing market. Once you have gathered all of the data, though, where should you start? Here are some areas you should analyze: 

  • Accuracy 
  • Speed
  • False positives or negatives
  • Responsiveness in noisy environments
  • Ability to understand the accents of your target audience
  • Understanding of vocabulary words
  • Types of user queries
  • Frequency of queries
  • Use of domains
  • Product requests

General data points, such as accuracy, speed, and false positives or negatives, will give an overview of how your voice assistant is performing. By delving into noisy environments, accents, and vocabulary words, you will be taking a closer look at how your audience operates and fine-tuning the experience for your users. For example, if your target audience uses any particular words that need to be incorporated into the voice assistant’s lexicon. 

Looking at domain usage, type and frequency of queries, you will get an understanding of what your users are asking of your voice assistant and if they are finding it helpful. If they are not using it or specific domains often, then user education might be in order to make them aware of what they can ask. If they are still not using the voice assistant after that, then it might be back to checking the accuracy and speed to ensure users aren’t abandoning the voice assistant because of frustration. 

If they are not using it or specific domains often, then user education might be in order to make them aware of what they can ask.

Product requests are also an important data point to examine to find out how your customers are using your product and what they are asking it to do that it doesn’t yet do. This information will lead to crucial product improvements that will further foster brand loyalty by offering users what they want. 

User research should be done at every stage of the development process and continued after it is offered on the market as well. It will be instrumental in updating the voice user interface and enhancing it to become the best user experience possible.

How to gather data transparently and ethically

Some early practices of voice assistants have made users wary of data collection, which is why it is so important for brands to do so transparently to build trust with their users. If you have full access to data, then you are already off to a great start since you will be able to control privacy settings, communicate what you do with the data, and who sees it. 

Brands should also be aware of privacy laws surrounding their target audience to ensure they are gathering data for their voice assistants ethically. If the voice assistant is for children, then the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires the Federal Trade Commission to issue and enforce regulations concerning online privacy for those under 13 years old.

When data is accessed by a trusted company rather than a large third party, users are much more likely to opt-in to data collection, especially when it is communicated that the data is being used to enhance the user experience through perks, such as personalization and monetization. 

When data is owned by a trusted company rather than a large third party, users are much more likely to opt-in to data collection.

Having full access to data and analytics is a critical turning point for your voice AI strategy that will determine how your voice assistant will perform, resonate with your users, and surpass the competition. When determining whether to build, buy, or partner for your voice assistant, consider the benefits of data transparency before you experience the consequences of being blind to how your users interact with your voice assistant. 

At SoundHound Inc., 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.

Kristen is a content writer with a passion for storytelling and marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, reading, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

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