To improve customers experience, it’s a matter of voice

From customer service to the “personalities” themselves, technology is expanding the meaning of speaking to the public.

Customers want to be heard, and the emergence of voice assistants and audio channels gives marketers more options to hear them.

This trend gained momentum last year as shoppers reached their brands at home through new channels they had never tried before. In 2020, for example, nearly 30% of consumers mentioned a brand for the first time.

Many speech and sound technologies have been around for years. As brands have adopted them to handle large quantities during the pandemic or to gain competitive advantage, these technologies may have found a stable place in the marketing piles.

“The technology is activated to save money as the number of customers grows,” said Chris Greenough, CEO of technology company CX Everise. “During the pandemic, companies reduced the number of calls.”

Respond immediately

Retailer BJ’s wholesale club began working with Everise in the months leading up to the pandemic, not knowing how much it depended on technology to handle the number of calls.

The company’s platform uses natural language understanding to manage voice interactions with customers. The solution allowed BJ to understand what customers were asking for and to provide easy-to-understand instructions or to refer customers to a direct representative.

The AI   that powers the platform must be trained to understand the context and regional nuances of the language. It is also constantly re-evaluated and improved as usage scenarios change.

“You need people and technology to make it all work,” Greenough said. “Conversational solutions still require people to model data and give their voice to improve their architecture.”

BJ stores are mainly found in the northeastern United States and along the east coast, and the platform has had to interpret different regionalisms and dialects in this relatively small area. It must also respond to generational differences. For example, an older customer may not immediately understand that “looking at your inbox” means the brand just sent you an email.

“We launched the BJ project when the pandemic hit the United States,” said Lana Pagnoux, Everise consultant. ‘The project was initially intended to simplify the functioning of the digital experience. It was a coincidence that the project was not planned for COVID-19. The solution responds to all the challenges they face. “

Everyone created the traditional KPI-based calling solution for BJ, including the best contact solution for a call or message from a customer. “Once the pandemic hit, there was a completely different set of KPIs,” Pagnoux explains. The BJs had new policies that were constantly changing in terms of how customers could visit the stores and what kind of collection and delivery services they could provide.

Pagnoux and her team continued to analyze call data from a call flow to find out what the new customer service cases were about. Customers wanted to know not only if the toilet would be available in the nearest store, but also if the toilet paper would be returned and when.

In May and June 2020, BJs received approximately 478,000 calls, more than half of which were answered via voice mail. 11% refers to the situation where a digital order is transferred to a self-service flow. In this way, customers can help themselves and direct representatives and voting robots help customers with other problems. The platform has received more than 30,000 requests in these two months.

Better understanding and coverage for the customers:

AI technology not only improves as you learn, but the company that uses it also gets smarter with its customers.

“There is a lot of conversation data that we find very enlightening,” Pagnoux said. Since Everise is on the customer service side, they do not only see sales and conversions. But brands can connect the dots and create data from conversations fueled by natural language comprehension.

Everise, for example, could be linked to the Bright Pattern omnichannel messaging solution, Greenough said. It enables marketers to understand and use WhatsApp voice and text on social platforms or through its website and channels. For Everise’s health customers, he has ties to Zendesk, he added. From there, the data can be stored and managed in a CRM.

Message channels enable customers to contact brands for service inquiries. Brands can radiate a broader network by distributing relevant audio channels.

“Where we see the great potential is where brands allow their communities to say something, to speak up,” said Ahmed Bouzid, founder and CEO of Witlingo. (He previously ran Alexa’s Smart Home product on Amazon.) “Social audio has increased tremendously. Voice is no longer within the bounds of Alexa and the Google Assistant.”

The involvement of the consumer’s voice spread in the social space and to the radio audience, which broadcast content digitally, he said. Artisan audio channels can be manufactured and controlled and are inherently less risky. But live sound experiences, such as the clubhouse, also belong on the border.

Podcasting is also becoming significantly popular with simple production and monetization tools like Anchor, he added.

Voice searches will not disappear. In fact, it may eventually become more acceptable as younger users adopt it, Bouzid said.

The possibility of assistants

“Amazon has abandoned Amazon Echos (at low prices) and installed 100 million of these devices in homes,” said David Ciccarelli, founder, and CEO of Voices, a digital voice talent market. “But the brands did not receive anything. The echoes became smart speakers to listen to music. The applications were not yet fully available.”

Ciccarelli praises Crest for developing a story app that kids can listen to while brushing their teeth before going to bed, as an example of how voice matures on a true marketing channel, as devices are the most common.

With Amazon’s Polly solution, for example, brands can create a unique voice by entering sentences and starting from there. After all, brands do not want everyone to be like Alexa.

“Essentially, they create a new dimension of personality,” Ciccarelli said. “If you have the brand identity, you can have different actors instead of hiring a celebrity,” he added.

Platforms like Voices also enable marketers to discover and designate the right voice actors for campaigns in different regions.

Performing these speech features on a scale can also help promote creative optimization, a practice in which AI brings together the best elements of an ad based on what a particular audience is most receptive to. (Although audio is not yet available, David Olesnevich, IBM Watson Advertising Product Manager, is part of the roadmap for IBM Watson Advertising Accelerator.)

“The cost of the ad is a fraction of the purchase of the ad,” Ciccarelli said. Why not test the A / B concept? You can also pay for another version of the ad and test your market share. “

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