It’s amazing to think that Siri was introduced as an IOS app 10 years ago, only to be snapped up by Apple just two months later. Then, about 18 months after that, the app was integrated as part of the iPhone 4S — and usage began to skyrocket.
Arguably, voice functionality such as Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Voice/Now has helped push voice as an easy-to-use way to get information or execute simple commands. Still, not many saw the magnitude of the opportunity to leverage voice as an interface and how it would become a driver for business innovation, efficiency and cost savings. Now a decade later, leveraging voice is a business imperative.
The main drivers of voice as a user interface are twofold: changing user expectations, and increased overall awareness and comfort with AI in users’ everyday lives. EMarketer predicts that nearly 118 million people will rely on voice technology this year, with that number growing to almost 123 million by 2021.
Combine this rise of voice with another reality — many consumers’ hatred of customer service — and that’s where a major inflection point appears. We’re seeing a focus on how companies treat their customers, and many organizations have made customer experience (CX) transformation a strategic priority — with voice at the center.
From a business perspective, you should accept that voice is the new interface and get your best people working on and embracing it. Companies are pouring billions of dollars across siloed voice technologies to get a better handle on what their customers are saying. Yet consumers continue jumping ship while companies lose money as a result.
And given the global pandemic, efficiencies and cost savings are critical. With the major transformation of our world in real time, we clearly need better ways to hear what our customers are saying. So how do you get started?
Make listening to your customers’ voices a priority.
Listening to the voices of customers, your employees and other key stakeholders can determine your company’s future. Talking is a fundamental part of humanity, so leveraging voice technology should be central to solving a very human problem: customers feeling like they’re not being heard. However, according to The Conversation, “replicating genuinely realistic human conversations is incredibly difficult.”
More companies have realized that natural language understanding, natural language processing and natural language generation are key enablers of a broader CX strategy. But more importantly, these will be key drivers for business efficiency and cost savings. By leveraging these technologies, companies could dramatically reduce call times and overhead simply by capturing and listening to every customer’s voice. This could include analyzing call center recordings to look for sentiment and tone, sending out voice-enabled surveys or surveying customers after a call.
Regardless, it’s vital your company obtains valuable feedback from customers and employees to strengthen your customer service and voice technology platforms, ensuring call times are short, customers are being heard and all operations are running as efficiently as possible.
Look for solutions that solve the real issues, not just fix one problem area — and thtat save money.
Once you’ve understood that voice can streamline CX operations and business efficiencies, you’ll want to use an intelligent combination of various technologies such as conversational analytics, data analytics, machine learning, IVR systems, authentication/security and robotic process automation (RPA) to prompt automated human-to-machine exchanges as well as personalized customer-agent exchanges.
By following a customer journey from end to end, you’ll be able to understand and predict customer intent, take appropriate and relevant actions and better scale your resources to support the business. As a result, you’ll dramatically save agents time by immediately getting to the root cause of a customer’s issue when they call and quickly taking the necessary actions to fix it. You’ll streamline the customer experience, allowing you to use fewer call center agents who can quickly and efficiently resolve more calls, which will save your company money.
Double down on your investments in automation capabilities to boost the bottom line.
Just as RPA was able to automate digital processes and prove substantial ROI for enterprises, conversation services can now be automated. Opus Research claims that conversational service automation offers the next wave of significant opportunities. AI-fueled automation of routine, mundane tasks is an ideal way to lower overhead and operational costs. With machines handling these lower-value interactions, agents can focus on solving customers’ issues.
When researching automation solutions, be sure to not just evaluate those that offer efficiencies and reduce operational costs, but look for platforms that are agent-empowering — platforms that allow agents to focus on listening and that take care of the repetitive tasks on the back end. Any automation software should have a direct impact on your company’s customer experience.
At first, it might be challenging to trust your automation software; in fact, that will likely be one of your biggest barriers. My advice is to integrate manual verification during the testing phase. After a call, when the software builds an automatic call summary, have agents verify the information. Once verified in pilot stages, publish and promote the accuracy. It’s critical that your agents feel like they can trust the system.
That trust extends into a belief that agents won’t lose their jobs as a result of advanced technology. Tackle that one head-on. Many forward-thinking organizations believe that jobs will be created thanks to these advances. The World Economic Forum estimates that “75 million jobs may be displaced” by automation, “while 133 million new roles may emerge” by 2022. Further, Gartner predicted that “AI-related job creation will cross into positive territory, reaching 2 million net new jobs in 2025.”
The availability of AI, automation technologies and machine learning capabilities, as well as the rapid and ubiquitous acceptance of voice capabilities brought on by the popularization of Siri, Alexa and Google Voice, all point to the fact that enterprises should embrace these trends. If they don’t, they could quickly be left behind.