Opportunities For Voice Throughout The 2020’s

Just as they had to develop a web strategy in the 90’s and a mobile strategy in ‘00s, businesses are going to need a voice strategy throughout the 2020’s

Throughout the first decade of this millennium brands and services had to understand what the web would mean to their business and how e-commerce could transform the customer experience.

As mobile dominated the second decade of this millennium, bringing with it m-commerce the same companies had to take a view on what this would mean for them and how to use this new channel to build on the learning from e-commerce.

Today, at the dawn of what we’re calling the ‘Talking Twenties’ the question that should be asked is ‘how can voice be used in conjunction with existing web and mobile channels to improve customer experience.

Web Mobile Voice commerce - Say It Now

In this article I will go on to discuss 3 ways we’re looking at the opportunities for voice and why we’re convinced the time is very much now.

Having worked in emerging technologies for the past 20 years the first thing one needs to look at when placing bets on rising channels is the state of the underlying technology and many people aren’t aware of how good speech to text technology is at the moment so I put this little demo together:

The tech now is even better than we really need it to be to create compelling conversational experiences. We only need to understand 80% of what’s said to create a voice skill and that allowed us to build on Alexa as long as 5 years ago but now it’s over 95% accurate, more accurate than a human, and that comes across in what we’re able to deliver today.

This rising ability of voice assistants has driven their adoption and we saw Q4 2019 as the largest quarter yet for smart speaker sales.  There have now been more than 200 million Smart Speaker Sales globally, they are in more than 30% of US households, 25% of UK households and this is just the beginning.

The world’s top analysts are predicting a 75% YOY growth for voice commerce, £32bn to be transacted through voice in 2022 and the Voice economy to be worth £775bn by 2025.

The Opportunities

  1. Friction-less engagement

  2. Voice search

  3. Brand Experience and Loyalty

  4. Local Service Delivery and Booking

1 – Friction-less Engagement

When thinking about voice it’s good to think about what improvements in experience have been made before and what extra convenience can be offered from voice.  It’s an oldie but a goodie, when Ocado launched the ability to do your grocery shopping from home that changed the weekly shop, when the designed their mobile app that put that convenience in your pocket.  However, you still have at minimum 5 steps to navigate before you can add tuna to your delivery. With voice that task is completed simply by uttering the phrase “Alexa, ask Ocado to add tuna to my trolley.”

Frictionless Voice Engagement - Say It Now

2 – Voice Search

With 75% of smartphones reported to be in either the living room or the kitchen they are increasingly being used as the family oracle.  This gives brands the opportunity to shine in their specialist domains, if only their customers can remember to say “Alexa, open Branded skill”

However, those days are drawing to an end with name free skill invocation. This is a functionality whereby when Alexa or Google Assistant do not have the answer to answer a specific question comprehensively in their own knowledge domains they will look to third party skills to respond.  Skills who have been well reviewed and are delivering a great customer experience will be favored, which is why now is the time to take advantage of this green field opportunity.

Voice Search Name Free Skill Invocation - Say It Now

3 – Branded experience

As I’ve written about before, voice can play an important part in the customer decision journey, delivering a reason to engage with your brand over others at point of consideration, moment of purchase and within the loyalty loop by creating well informed, customer advocates.

As with any emerging technology, we expect a lot in the very short term but find it hard to imagine the changes that will be achieved with these that take a methodical, considered approach (See Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Netflix, UBER).

4 – Local Service Delivery and Booking

Our Alexa Cup wins last year were awarded for an enabling layer to support local service and delivery businesses to be booked via voice assistants and chatbots. We are progressing well against that vision and in the light of the recent global pandemic events we expect to see behavior change faster towards using voice assistants to book local services and a rise of home delivery. See here some more about how Book It Now works here.

We at Say It Now advocate a considered, long term and evolutionary approach to harnessing the opportunity voice will bring. We’ve made sure the starting point is accessible for all and have the enterprise capability to take it all the way.

We are hosting an event on Friday 20th March to bring together the thinking of our partners at Amazon, Vodafone, DAX, Uplift and Safe Hands. The event will be streamed live and accessible afterwards at this link, please drop in.