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CX Tech

The Voice Assistant Comes of Age: Chatbots and AI Drive CX Solutions

Benjamin Hunting
September 11, 2019

3 minute read

The use of a voice assistant — a technology that allows for natural language interaction between individuals and intelligent online services — has become increasingly integrated into a myriad of consumer-facing and business-oriented products.

On the consumer side, perhaps the best-known implementations of voice technology can be found with intelligent speakers that integrate with home automation systems as well as entertainment streaming and shopping services. Mobile devices, too — including tech baked in to Android and Apple iOS — are increasingly relying on voice assistant interactions.

In the business world, however, there exists a substantial opportunity for voice systems to substantially impact the customer experience on an even greater scale. With 20% of American households currently using smart speakers, it’s no surprise that the CX executives surveyed in a recent industry report are increasingly finding ways to weave voice assistants into their operations.

To view the full report, download “The Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence” by Oracle in partnership with ESG.

A support team for the support team

Intelligent voice assistants are often categorized alongside chatbots when discussing AI-driven customer experience systems in business. The pairing is a natural one: nearly 60% of companies represented in the Oracle report see voice assistants as a way to handle general customer service inquiries. In fact, one Senior Manager of Marketing Technology stated that 10% of their financial services company’s customer requests are handled exclusively by chatbots.

Voice assistant chatbots, as well as their text-based equivalents, lift substantial burden from frontline customer support teams. By harnessing artificial intelligence, they can often provide answers to basic questions posed either over the phone, via an app, or in a web environment.

These systems are not only effective at providing answers. They can also funnel more complex requests to the appropriate department or offer additional resources automatically upon request. Some of that additional flexibility can be seen in the answers of surveyed executives, with 50% indicating that voice assistant solutions are used to help guide customer product selection, followed closely by checking on order status, account details, or making appointments.

Familiarity plays a key role

Unlike the frustrating reputation associated with numeric phone directories of the past, intelligent voice assistant systems can leverage their familiarity on the consumer side of the spectrum to deliver a comfortable and “natural” customer experience in a business support role. The technology is also continually evolving, to the point where 82% of executives from close to 600 companies represented by the study agree that it has become a significant customer retention factor.

Keeping customers — and keeping customers happy — is at the root of almost every CX strategy, and again it’s here that voice technology shows its versatility. Respondents indicate that the top 3 benefits of implementing voice and chatbot systems include faster resolution of customer issues, increased overall operational efficiencies, and a more differentiated customer experience as compared to rivals.

Real results, fast

How soon can a company expect to see real, material benefits to an intelligent voice assistant strategy? The answer is surprisingly quickly. Two-thirds of respondents expected value to appear within the first six months of deployment, with nearly 90% confident that it would take no more than a year for the changes to impact the bottom line. That level of faith is a significant indicator of just how rapidly this technology is maturing.

Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting has covered science, medicine, and technology for a wide range of publications, and has also been published in the Journal of Medical Economics. He coded his first computer program at the age of 8 on a Commodore VIC-20 and still has the audio cassette he saved it on hanging around somewhere in his office.
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