Retaining Customers Through Voice Assistants  

Today, our lives are often overscheduled and oversubscribed and we find ourselves juggling many things at once. Voice assistants are an easy and straightforward way to address this issue by providing brands with a frictionless way to engage with their customers but more importantly provide customers with the means to make their lives easier.

Brands that are exceptionally effective at this engage their CRM and data at hand to enable functionally great experiences. Of course, efficient customer experience is a symbiotic relationship between the ability to entertain and to assist. In order to sustain satisfied return customers and create brand advocates, it is crucial to create intuitive and engaging brand experiences that ultimately makes life easier for the customer.

Ocado is a great example of a brand doing this well. As mentioned in their annual report, addressing time poverty and using technology to enhance their proposition are big focuses for them in 2020 which they demonstrate well with their efficient voice communication strategy where they have used their customer data to include personalised suggestions and replacements making it an intelligent, non-linear way to shop and a valuable service. Without the ability to engage other senses like touch, sight, or smell, it is important to find ways to be personable and provide an innovative seamless end to end solution.

We often consider a voice communication strategy as one limited to the home but that is a missed opportunity. A  lot of brands are creating voice skills to be engaged on the move like Ford using Sync3  which uses Intuitive Voice Control to be utilised while in the car. Amazon Auto also gives the customer the ability to utilise Alexa while on the go and is a great opportunity for brands to engage with their customers for entertainment, assistance, or both at the same time!

Now that we have discussed when and where to use voice for retention, let’s throw some ideas around on how. It is fair to say that while price used to be the ultimate competitive advantage for retail, we are now at a stage where customer experience and education are what sets a brand apart.

Using your voice assistant to provide notifications similar to how you would use email marketing tackles two issues – time poverty and loyalty and also gives you a seamless way of responding to the notification. Thus, not adding to the consumer’s to-do list but taking things off, making life a lot easier for a time pushed customer and providing an easy reason to come back. Additionally, the more usage it gets, the better it gets at learning and thus improves the experience over time.

Some things to keep in mind when creating a voice strategy for your retail brand:

  • Do not treat it in isolation from other channels. See it as an extension of SEO or PPC for performance, with more focused intent and higher engagement

  • Identify needs and set out what you want to achieve. Are you trying to engage, educate or aid purchase?

  • Identify your tone of voice based on who you are as a brand and what your goals are. It is important to suit the voice and personality to your brand

  • Utilise existing CRM or CDP data to aid customer journey and personalise the experience

Thirty years ago, the iPhone was a distant twinkle in Steve Jobs eye, but today smartphones are part of our day to day. This is admittedly an overused parable but one that makes a good point, nonetheless. It is crucial for a brand to utilise technology to stay ahead of the curve, voice assistants are more ubiquitous than ever and are primed to be utilised by all brands but particularly subscription-based services. In the Amazon Pay report Doing Business in a Connected World, forty four percent of respondents said that they are somewhat or very likely to use voice services in some phase of their shopping journey in the next two years. So why not make their life easier?