Brands Should Embrace Voice Technology To Survive and Thrive Post-Covid

By Rob Stanbridge, Vocala MD

History has shown that a crisis leads to new ways of life, new mindsets, new habits and new opportunities. In 2007 the Global energy crisis led to new policies, regulations, legislation and standards around energy and renewables as well as new products like electric cars. All of that would have developed eventually, but it’s likely that the adoption rate would have been much slower. I believe we are at that moment with voice.

Increased Adoption and Engagement

Smart speakers are set to be the fasted adopted technology in history; on track to be adopted by 50% of the population quicker than the mobile phone, the TV or The Internet. And that was pre-Covid-19. Smart speaker sales rose 6% in Q1 despite the pandemic, with some reports suggesting smart home tech sales could jump 30% due to the virus. We saw Facebook give away thousands of the voice-activated Portal devices to care homes and other facilities. We’re now on a fast track to adoption.

And with that adoption we are also seeing increased engagement across a broader range of use cases. Top uses for voice devices tend to be functional like asking questions or setting alarms and reminders, but due to the pandemic we are seeing an increase in awareness and adoption of things like games and entertainment. From our own portfolio of licensed TV gameshows we have seen increase in usage by over 47%.

In short, we have an increased base of potential consumers who have these devices, know more about how they can be used across all aspects of their life and have formed habits in using them. And those habits have been formed by the trigger to not touch.

Voice — The Germaphobe’s Friend

Hand hygiene and physical contact as a whole has shifted to a degree where everyone is now very aware of their behavior and interaction with people and things. One US study showed that we touch our phones 2,600 a day! The fear and anxiety associated with tactile transmission will remain until well into the future. When you apply voice activation it takes away that risk.

As well as the home, voice can protect in other environments like the car, walking down the street, in the office and beyond. There are over 100,000 devices that are Alexa enabled. We’ve seen smart home technology increase so no longer do you need to touch a light switch, a kettle or even open the fridge to see what inside. Cars have had assistants for years, but with Alexa enabled devices you can place orders, get information and now even pay for fuel via voice.

Wearable tech means voice is everywhere, from glasses, to earbuds so you can now source information walking down the street. You don’t need to touch a phone to check the next train time, open a timetable or buy a ticket, you can just ask your assistant.

Consumers Will Look to Voice for Protection

So, wherever they are people will expect brands, business and organizations to keep them safe. ‘Nice to haves’ will become MUST haves as customers ask ‘Why can’t I do this via voice?’ You only have to consider a few industry sectors for a moment to see the potential:

Great Customer Experience Will Be Key

Pre-covid, a survey by Cap Gemini showed that those brands with a voice experience to engage and support customers can boost NPS by 20pts. Consumers had already come to expect brands and businesses to deliver fast, efficient, friendly service and that’s going to be more important than ever for acquiring and retaining customers. The likely economic recession will force many organizations into careful consideration of costs and the customer experience provided. The future of customer call-centres will provide great opportunities for brand and business voice-bots. Voice can also be applied for surveys and market research too, allowing businesses to make many more calls to gather insight and information.

On top of leveraging voice for reactive customer service, it can also help to put brands ahead of competitors from a proactive perspective, by creating engaging voice applications for the millions of devices that now sit in people’s homes and pockets. Voice offers the ability to connect a campaign with the target consumer via a convenient, hands-free, call-to-action, whether the objective is capturing leads, driving sales or strengthening brand engagement.

With the potential long-term changes and restrictions to our way of life brands will have to find future-proofed ways to ensure they can reach and engage with their consumers. With voice technology a brand can now, literally, have a voice. One that is always on, 24–7, responsive, engaging and ready to add value to the customer experience.

The Time Is Now

We’ve seen a technology that was already on track to proliferate the market prior to this outbreak. Now its adoption and use has been fast-tracked, habits are being formed that will remain. Expectations have been set and if voice tech isn’t there to help keep people safe customers will be asking ‘Why can’t I do this through voice?’, ‘Why can’t I find this through voice?’.

Now is the perfect opportunity for brands and businesses to embrace the voice-first world which offers low costs with a higher customer experience, provides a cutting-edge workforce of voicebots primed to give exceptional customer service and allows brands to engage with their audience in their homes and lifestyles, providing valued experiences that build trust and loyalty.

If they get it right and embrace voice technology, they will have a much better chance of surviving and thriving.



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Voice design and digital agency, creating engaging interactive experiences for smart speakers and voice-enabled devices.