What is a Voice Assistant?
Why are they becoming more and more popular?
What utility do they provide for your business?
Well, to answer these questions, let’s use different case scenarios.
Imagine working or being in a situation where you are constantly on the move or for that matter in a situation that requires you to wear gloves.
Say, for example, a scientist working in a laboratory, or a head chef at a major restaurant, or a bike enthusiast.
In all the above case scenarios, it’s impossible to use your hands while working on a laptop, phone or to access relevant features in your gadgets
What do you do?
You guessed it right! A voice assistant can help you in all three case scenarios without having to tap, type, or write; using voice commands is all it takes to access any feature or perform tasks.
Well, you can pretty much do more than all the above mentioned by leveraging this smart technology.
For instance, the voice assistant can help business owners and entrepreneurs to trace a single entry from within a huge dataset.
Or take notes during a meeting or even set up a meeting while they focus on more important issues.
Voice assistants have become a popular phenomenon in the world of smart technologies.
There’s a bunch of them available which you’ve probably heard about — but much on that later.
More and more enterprises are exploring ways to leverage this smart technology to develop personal voice assistants for their applications.
A research study conducted by PwC showed that around 1000 (aged 18–64) consumers questioned, a majority (72%) had previously used a voice assistant.
Another research pointed out that there are currently about 3.25 billion voice assistants and the numbers are expected to reach up to 8 billion users by 2023.
As cliche as this next sentence will sound (because the term is being undersold yet overused) – “artificial intelligence” assistive technology has been the biggest game-changer for various enterprise settings.
The how’s and why’s are listed below:
Key Benefits of Voice Assistants
Customer Satisfaction & 24/7 Support
Time for another cliche: “The customer is always right”
But how can you know this if you have no communication with the customer because you’re too busy focusing on the operations and troubleshooting your way towards success?
A human can never be available for a customer 24 hours 7 days a week but what’s also true is that in this globalized digital world, consumers expect round-the-clock support.
And when you’re competing globally you can’t afford to risk a single client.
Voice assistants are business’s best friends for a reason.
Because they give more than they take (LOL),
This is exactly where voice assistant technology-enabled chatbots come into the picture.
Believe me when I say the famous lines from the movie The Mummy: “It will never eat, it will never sleep, and it will never stop.”
Of course, the never stop could happen due to a technical error, but you all get the point.
Time for a case scenario to bring all the reasoning into existence:
A hotel chain needs to provide 24/7 support to its guests whether it’s during the day or at the wee hours of the night, be it for room service or to book a cab – it needs a large well-trained staff to manage the client’s expectations.
But what if a large well-trained staff could be replaced by an in-room smart speaker?
A personal assistant technology eliminates the need for human staff while guaranteeing 24/7 customer support.
In no way am I making a case against the human staff, or trying to sabotage their livelihood.
For the unaware, the UK’s National Health Service in partnership with Amazon is ready to make use of Amazon Alexa to give out health advice to UK citizens, reported by MIT Technology Review.
Do you see the doctors complaining?
Ok back to where we left off. This key feature can help hotel businesses save a lot of costs while improving efficiency.
I think if I go any further than this, the labour unions might just come looking for me.
But to further simplify matters, think of this as an FAQ section of a website, a business uses to provide “self-service” support for its customers.
It does this by collating the most commonly asked questions and then aims to answer and publish them to guide its users better.
It serves the same purpose as voice assistants.
Overcomes Language Barriers
Not just from a user’s perspective, because we already mentioned the globalized markets, enterprises are expected to accommodate everyone in today’s global village.
Meaning customers from various demographics speak a wide array of languages and though English is considered the most common language spoken, there’s no denying that a personalized experience is far more lucrative for businesses worldwide.
It’s a bonus to have a personal assistant technology integrated with automatic translation to overcome language barriers and provide a more personalized customer experience.
And if you’re wondering language itself could be a problem for this smart technology, here’s why you are wrong.
Modern voice assistant applications are not troubled with limited vocabulary, because they make use of cloud storage that has millions of words and phrases stored.
ML comes into play by utilizing the entire speech to decipher the meaning and not simply individual words.
The neural network, similar to a human brain, intelligently mimics the processes that start when it hears the continuous course of sounds.
Most popular voice assistants are powered by a deep neural network-based engine at the backend.
Google Assistant alone is compatible with around 27 different languages and is in the process of adding more.
The better the customer experience, the better the profits.
Utility for e-Commerce Businesses
This section is specifically targeted towards all those entrepreneurs that are running e-commerce businesses.
I know most of you with e-commerce businesses are too cramped up with day-to-day operations managing order logistics and fulfilment as well as domestic and global shipping.
Getting your first 100 customers might be hard but what’s harder is being able to retain those customers. Heard of after-sales?
It all comes down to customer satisfaction and subsequently, customer loyalty.
And with the fast-paced operations at hand, there is nothing like a voice assistant technology-enabled chatbot that can do the trick for you.
It not only acts as the perfect medium to provide the ease of online shopping on any device but can also be a data-gathering tool.
Obtaining customer information such as demographic, interests, device usage, purchase history, search history; is a must for all businesses for effective and targeted messaging.
The obtained information makes the interaction between the customer and the chatbot more conversational.
How this happens is, the chatbot connects almost every information cue from the interactions.
The chatbot then works through the reaction coordination pathway to determine the right response, which it pulls from various learning bases and CRM frameworks.
Allowing the chatbot to predetermine the conversation at a contextual level, developing into a full-fledged discussion with the customers.
The collected data can also be utilized for more personalized marketing and messaging, as well as improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies.
Smart Offices & Hands-free Operations
Work smart, not hard, fits perfectly in this case I’m about to elaborate on.
Every aspect of our lives revolves around smart technology, smartphones, smart tv, smartwatches, and in the next 5-10 years smart houses, smart cities etc.
But no one seems to talk about smart offices.
Without going into too much detail about smart offices, let’s examine how voice assistants will play their role in making an office – a “smart office”
For starters, they play a vital role in creating smart spaces in an office by keeping all individual spaces connected.
Its connectivity with smart office solutions enables the voice assistant to serve as an admin manager – and smoothly manage logistical work such as turning off lights, air conditioners in any of the vacant rooms or spaces.
It can be delegated tasks such as ordering office and business resources such as stationery or calling in an electrician or plumber if need be.
In the same case, it can be authorized to send alerts if and when the supplies are running low.
Popular Voice Assistants
We’ve already mentioned some of the most popular voice assistants available in the market.
And chances are that you’ve probably used more than one. But let’s share a bit more light on this end.
Before we begin, let me reiterate the fact that the majority of these voice assistants, if not all are by default, have female-sounding voices.
The user does have the liberty to change them to other voices.
Apple’s Siri was the first digital virtual assistant launched on a smartphone – during the time iPhone 4s was released back in 2011 – but since then Siri has transitioned into the smart speaker with the inception of HomePod in 2018.
Google Assistant, formerly known as Google Now, is available on the Android platform as well as Apple’s iOS, though it offers limited functionality.
Smart speakers such as “Alexa” and “Hey Google” have become a household phenomenon with Alexa by Amazon as a part of the Echo (which now also offers a voice assistant for cars) while Google Assistant is part of the Google Home.
Even Facebook launched a voice assistant – M, for its messenger app but failed miserably and was terminated in 2018.
Other notable voice assistants include Bixby by the tech giant Samsung, IBM offers Watson, while Cortana – Microsoft’s voice assistant is featured on Windows 10, Xbox One machines, and Windows phones.
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