With the number of digital voice assistants in use forecasted to be at 8 billion by 2023, implementing a voice assistant as a new medium of engagement with customers is the obvious next step. Yet, not many organizations have implemented one.
Many enterprises are still on edge about whether to try implement the technology for their customers or for use in-house. No doubt, there are plenty of technological, social and political barriers to cross in the process.
We’ve weighed up some key pros and cons for consideration.
1. Positive perception as technology forward
Regardless of which industry, implementing automated voice (voice assistants, or voice IVRs) within the company or as part of digital channel offerings is still very new. A quick search on Google for some of the first voice assistants implemented by businesses will show dozens of additional articles championing their advances in conversational technology, even if customer receptivity has been varying.
The response is even more overwhelming for voice assistants that have been executed well. Company-pushed marketing and press releases aside, companies like Bank of America with Erica and Domino’s with Anyware have received increasing media, technology and industry attention, many used as case studies for other companies thinking to implement voice technology.
2. Forefront of the “single customer view”
For conversational AI technology to be value-adding, an enterprise’s backend systems need to be well-integrated. This is a dream many enterprises from all industries are still striving towards.
To endeavour towards a successful conversational AI implementation is to be jointly working on the integrability of customer, employee and operational systems. While it will undoubtedly be a handful, working towards a “single customer view” or a “360 degree view” with voice implementation in mind will put your company in the leagues of technology-forward firms globally.
3. Cooperability with Chat Tech
Many companies opt to implement a chatbot before a voice assistant because of its known proven success and abundance of chatbot expertise.
If chatbot capabilities have been developed or implemented, it can easily be integrated with Voice projects. Similarly, Voice projects can act as a kick-off point for chat technology, requiring many overlapping functionalities and resources.
1. Consumer comfort
While consumers are perfectly comfortable performing a search, shopping or asking basic questions via voice-enabled devices, they are not necessarily as comfortable hearing their transactions over the past month or personal health updates through the same devices.
Industries like banking, health and insurance face the toughest barriers to customer voice adoption because of the immense amounts of sensitive customer information they manage. Just as businesses had to direct their customers to their website in the beginning, companies need to reassure and guide customers on using their voice products easily, securely and privately.
2. Technology might not be there for some industries
Industries that are highly regulated and have highly fractured technology such as financial services and healthcare often face another obstacle when implementing voice technology. Regulated with heavy consumer privacy laws, the companies must balance their customer’s privacy with how much their customer can and want to access via voice assistants. Adding to that, hyper fragmentation in their technology landscape often means that current technology is not yet there to combine backend systems with front-end voice technology.
However, it is in these same industries where most advances in Voice have been tested, even if it connects only with a subset of their databases. Consider your technology landscape when planning for a Voice MVP, but never begin the MVP with your technology restrictions as a base.
3. Lack of Expertise
Voice technology for the enterprise is still quite new, and as such, there aren’t many experts available to lead or advise on projects.
Many enterprises opt for chat experts or for companies that can lead/create voice assistants but are attached to a particular vendor. Unfortunately, those often lead to problems in later growth or scale stages due to lack of expertise in enterprise voice execution or attachment to a vendor too early without considering the possibility of better solutions for the purpose of the project.
When looking for a Subject Matter Expert, look for one that is technology agnostic to ensure the right medium to success for the voice project. It’s also recommended to find an expert that has not only executed successfully in your industry, but has cross-industry and cross-functional experience.
Regardless of the difficulties of implementing a voice assistant in the enterprise, there is no doubt that Voice is where the future is heading. To not make steps towards being able to provide voice as a medium of interaction to your customers or employees is to reduce engagement, efficiency and revenue potential.
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