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  • Writer's pictureJaime González Gasque

Prepare for the voice revolution

How and why are voice assistants being used? What do consumers think of the technology, and what are the primary needs, current use cases, opportunities and concerns?

Why now?

Consumer awareness of voice devices and assistants, in terms of all the technology that exists and the capabilities that are already in place, is nascent.Yet, there’s no denying that voice is the future. The technology will continue to drive and shift consumer behavior,

and companies need to prepare and adjust accordingly. Search, advertising, content, and commerce are being impacted industrywide as consumers transform the way they interact with brands as theresult of voice technology. Consumers are talking, and it’s a good

idea to listen.

General awareness of voice technology is high

Only 10% of surveyed respondents were not familiar with voice-enabled products and devices. Of the 90% who were, the majority have used a voice assistant (72%). Adoption is being driven by younger consumers, households with children, and households with

an income of >$100k

How “mobile” are mobile voice assistants?

Despite being accessible everywhere, three out of every four consumers (74%) are using their mobile voice assistants at home. The majority of focus group participants were quick to say

that they prefer privacy when speaking to their voice assistant and that using it in public “just looks weird.” This could explain why 18-24-year olds are using their voice assistants less, as this age group tends to spend more timeoutside the home.

Despite growing capabilities, basic tasks remain the norm. For now, the bulk of consumers have yet to graduate to more advanced activities like shopping or controlling other smart

devices in the home. Males and younger consumers are more likely to experiment with newer, more advanced features, but even then, it’s at a minimum.

Trust remains a barrier for voice assistant shoppers

“I would shop for simple things like dog

food, toilet paper, pizza... but ‘can you

order me a sweater?’ That’s too risky.”

“This reminds me of when my daughter

racked up almost $1,500 playing a

mobile game... Canit get to a point

where the device can confirm it’s me

who’s talking and not my 11-year-old

who’s going rogue? Or maybe you have

to confirm the purchase by entering the

last three digits of your credit card.”

A positive shopping experience can mean deeper loyalty,

greater trust, and more money spent. On average, 80% of

consumers who have shopped using their voice assistant are

satisfied, and as a result:

•39% shared their positive experiences with friends and family

•39% shopped again with the same retailer

•36% have a more favorable opinion of the retailer

•24% spent more money with the retailer

Yet, lack of trust is still palpable. One out of every four consumers would not consider shopping through their voice assistant now or in the future:

•46% said “I don’t trust my voice assistant to correctly

interpret and process my order”

•45% said “I don’t trust or feel comfortable sending payment

through my voice assistant”

Privacy is also a concern. For example, one focus group participant was adamant about the need for her voice assistant to be able to detect if she was alone prior to making recommendations based upon her past purchase history.

There was also unease around others in the household (kids,spouses, etc.) having access to the voice assistant and being able to purchase things with a pre-authorized credit card:

50% of respondents have made a purchase using their voice assistant, and an additional 25% would consider doing so in the future. The majority of items purchased are small and quick and are things that someone could buy without necessarily having tosee it physically (to determine quality, for example).

Prepare and optimize for voice success

Customer relationships and perception of brands is expected to change as companies will have the opportunity to engage with their consumers on an individual level. Make voice a priority by driving and implementing a voice strategy. For example, create new voice-based business models to balance diminishing traditional screen-based revenue streams. Or anticipate customer needs using big data and predictive analysis and then provide relevant, up-to-date information by making the information on yourwebsite voice-ready.

Foster trust through consistency

Consumers are hesitant to try advanced capabilities with their voice assistants. A primary reason is an overall lack of trust in their devices to accurately understand and complete the most basic of asks. “If my voice assistant says ‘I don’t know the answer to that’ for every other question I ask, how can I expect it to help me plan and book my vacation, which is costing me a lot of money?” Work on perfecting the technology to allow for a seamless and reliable user experience.

Prioritize education and diminish complexity

Consumers are lazy. For example, most voice assistant owners haven’t created their own ‘recipes’ using services like “if this, then that” (IFTTT). They have limited knowledge that includes boundaries marked by information that’s readily accessible and easily understood. To guide consumers past “what’s the weather?” and towards “buy this pair of pants,” companies must first build trust through proof of concept with smaller tasks and then educate around what’s possible.




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