In the world of business, voice technology holds astonishing potential. It can transform how your people work, or how your customers interact with your business or buy your products. Smart businesses are starting to think about how they can use voice to improve their operations or their customer experience.
In other words, it’s time to begin thinking strategically about how YOU can make it work for your business. So how can you get started?
1. Start small: Identify a single voice technology use case within your company.
Start your efforts internally. Identify a small voice technology use case that can help you improve your processes, increase your productivity, or better engage with your employees. That way, you reduce your risk while giving yourself an opportunity to learn about the potential for voice within your business.
The easiest place to begin? Consider asking Siri, Cortana, Alexa, or the Google Assistant. Many of your employees already use these voice assistants at home. It’s no huge leap to ask them to use one of them at work.
Indeed, most businesses testing the voice integration waters are starting with intelligent assistants. According to a recent study, 19% of organizations already use them. An additional 46% of organizations have plans to adopt them within the next five years.
Within your business, what task can you use voice to streamline or simplify? Are any platforms already available to you? Research which option best supports your use case. For example, Alexa for Business lets you build custom skills to help your people manage calendars, make calls, access updated data, track inventory, find meeting rooms, control conference room equipment, or perform countless other tasks specific to your business.
Again, the idea is to start small and keep it simple. Beyond testing usability, the effort will help you build awareness about the potential for integrating voice technology in your business.
2. Think big: Use voice to re-imagine your user experience.
It’s time to start thinking big. Voice provides a new avenue for you to reach employees and customers. It can also help you engender loyalty and develop a more distinctive brand personality. How can your business or product use voice to provide a new or differentiated user experience?
Voice technology is changing how people search for information about products or services, shop, and interact with brands. For example:
Consumers like using voice to search: 90% say voice assistants make searching for something online easier.
Consumers are using voice to buy: 62% of consumers using voice-activated speakers say they’re likely to use them to buy products in the next month, and 44% use them to order products at least weekly.
Voice encourages repeat business: Of the satisfied consumers who’ve used voice assistants to shop (an impressive 80%), 39% shopped again with the same retailer and 36% have a more favorable opinion of the retailer.
Work with appropriate stakeholders to brainstorm additional use cases for both employees and customers. Come up with a wide-ranging list of both short- and long-term ideas. Focus on developing ideas that will have a significant positive impact on your user experience. For inspiration, check out the skills kits and case studies for Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri.
3. Make a flexible plan for integrating voice technology into your business or products.
It’s time to narrow down and prioritize your list of ideas. Identify quick wins as well as longer-term priorities. Quick wins show your internal team that longer-term initiatives are worth the effort.
For each voice initiative, always start with a minimum viable product, or MVP. MVPs include only truly critical features, creating products you can deploy, learn from, and iterate on. User feedback and analytics help you refine your products so that they drive value for both your business and your users. You save time, money, and effort, making only changes and updates users genuinely want.
Some platforms are natural fits for specific businesses and services. Begin by developing your MVP for a single voice technology platform (i.e., Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Siri).
It’s important, however, that as you proceed, you keep your plan flexible. The voice technology landscape is changing moment by moment. To maximize the benefit to your business, it will be important to remain open to new ideas — and changes of plans — as voice technology continues to develop and usage trends continue to emerge.
4. Focus on identifying the right development partner for your needs.
Unless your business builds software, you’ll need to find a trusted partner to help you implement voice. Research and interview software design and development companies specialized in building custom skills and integrations for your selected platform. Look for a partner that:
Has demonstrated knowledge and experience about developing for your selected platform. Ask for credentials and references. When available, review relevant case studies.
Can assist you in fleshing out your implementation plan. A good partner will be able to help you assess the time, level of effort, and cost required for your proposed initiatives. Their informed point of view can help you prioritize projects and illuminate the path ahead. They may even come up with more ideas for using voice in your business or products.
Can keep you apprised of new voice technology trends and developments. The right partner will be proactive and forward-looking in their guidance. Are they showcasing themselves as thought leaders in voice? Ask them how they’re ensuring that their developers — and their clients — remain on the leading edge of voice.
Still have questions about getting started with voice in your business? Let us know!
Anar Babaev is Distillery’s Managing Director. He has wide-ranging experience on the client side and the business side, having worked in account and project management, sales, and client relations at various international software and IT organizations. Anar is passionate about creating a better client experience through proactive issue identification and problem solving. In his free time, he loves spending time with his family, listening to music, and reading. He has a massive collection of baseball caps, rarely leaving the house without a hat.