Does my business need a voice app?
Voice apps have massive potential for businesses to connect with customers in a new way. But is it right for you?
A few years ago, you’d be considered mad if you spoke to your television, laptop, or kettle. Nowadays, it’s a natural part of our lives.
In fact, we’re chatting away more than ever. Here in the UK, 22% of us have smart speakers with voice technology at home. Across the pond in the US, that number’s expected to reach 75% by 2025. That means over 100 million households in the US alone.
As business people, we’re often drawn to shiny new things and the latest technology. When apps became mainstream, every business wanted an app. Now that chatbots are the ‘in thing’, every business wants a chatbot.
Now voice technology is what everyone is talking about. That means you might be thinking about investing in your own voice app to stay one step ahead of the competition. But is it worth the investment? Well, here are a few key questions to consider first...
Does a voice app suit my business?
If you take a look at the most widely used and highest rated voice apps on the market today, you’ll notice three key areas. These are:
- Entertainment (music, games)
- Information (weather reports, news briefings)
- Tasks (booking hotels, planning itineraries)
The common link is that all three naturally lend themselves to conversation and audio. Clearly, music and games have an audio component, so it makes sense that you can speak back to what you’re hearing.
Weather reports and news briefings are far easier to digest when a device reads them aloud to you. Booking hotels and planning itineraries are usually communicated from one human to another, so a conversation feels natural.
Voice apps are successful when a conversation makes sense.
When it comes to deciding if your business needs a voice app, you have to consider the context of what your business is. Does it suit your business needs and goals? Is it going to provide value to your customers?
If you provide a service that goes hand-in-hand with quick snippets of dialogue and conversation, then a voice app could definitely help. If not, then don’t worry about jumping on the bandwagon simply for the sake of it.
Am I up for the challenge?
Voice apps present a fantastic opportunity for you to connect with your customers. But the technology is far from perfect. Voice apps have seen wave after wave of challenges; monetisation, privacy concerns and a lack of public trust are all still major issues. But perhaps the biggest issue with voice apps is their usability. Unfortunately, technology isn’t always up to scratch. Voice apps work by combining artificial intelligence (AI) with automated speech recognition (ASR). The problem is that both of these technologies are still in their infancy, and so they aren’t always reliable.
That’s why we get frustrated with Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. A lot of the time they don’t seem to understand us much at all. This makes whatever we’re wanting to do even more difficult. It wastes our time. And you don’t need me to tell you that frustrating your customers is not a smart strategy.
That’s why if you’re considering developing a voice app for your business, you need to tread carefully. There are two criteria your voice app needs to meet to be successful, and to be a worthwhile investment:
1. Is it useful?
Does it actually help your customers in any way? Does it provide functionality that doesn’t exist on your other channels? Or does it make it easier for them to do what they want to do?
2. Does it work?
Can it understand what people are saying? Can it figure out what your customers are actually trying to do? Can it provide as good a service as your other channels?
If you don’t think your voice app will meet these two criteria, then it’s not worth the risk and resources. However, if it does meet these two criteria, then building a voice app could be a game-changer for your business positioning you at the forefront of customer experience, as well as innovation.
Do my customers actually want to talk to an app?
Modern voice technology is still young. And even though there are a few teething issues, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable area to invest in, either now or in the future.
The technology is constantly improving, often at a faster rate than you imagine. And it’s only a matter of time before we can speak to a device much like we can a human. As for public opinion, that’s bound to change as the technology gets better.
So before you commission your own voice app, check that your customers actually want or need it. Don’t take it on as a vanity project or a marketing ploy, it’ll fall at the first hurdle. If, however, there’s genuine market desire then you have a great chance to lead the way.
Can I afford for it to go wrong?
When it comes to voice apps, there’s a fine line between breathtaking and downright frustration. If it works perfectly, it can feel like magic. But if it doesn’t, then you’re in trouble.
How your customers interact with your business is vital. Every touchpoint needs to enhance their experience and bring them closer to your brand. It’s all about relationships. If you’ve gone all in on voice and the technology isn’t seamless, you risk losing a customer not just a conversation.
Of course, the flipside of this is; what if it goes well? If your market has a desire to use voice apps and you can get the tech to live up to their expectations, then you could build connections on a whole new level. Offering customers and clients a richer, simpler way to interact can build deeper relationships that last longer.
Wrapping up the voice app conversation
At first, we all felt a little strange shouting commands at our cars or asking Alexa what the weather is like. Slowly but surely, however, it’s becoming a little more normal. It seems that voice technology is here to stay. It will continue to grow in popularity, and it’s likely we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they’ll be capable of doing. This means it’s a worthwhile investment if you have the audience and the resources. If you don’t have both, then maybe shelve the idea for now. It’s not worth the risk.
What do you think about voice technology? Have you built a voice app that’s improved your customer experience? Or do you think the whole thing’s a waste of time?