‘Hey Siri- tell me more about Voice User Interface’

 In Articles

Siri and Alexa- two names that continue to grow ever more familiar as the popularity of Voice User Interface (VUI) grows steadily.

More regularly than ever before we’re being introduced to a new form of human-computer interaction that quickly finds itself becoming commonplace- clicking with a mouse, touching screens, fingerprint recognition all sound familiar?

With this new wave of AI (Artificial Intelligence)-assisted services we’re seeing, we’re again changing the way we communicate, undertake tasks, work, and browse the internet, amongst other things. We’re witnessing a revolutionary change in how we interact with our electronic devices.

Voice is fundamentally a highly intuitive way to interact and, as such, there is the potential for it to become consumers’ primary means of interaction with technology over the coming years.

A survey of current voice technology usage in nine countries, including the UK, found that on average 47% of smartphone users employ voice technology of some kind at least once a month and 31% use it at least weekly, equating to almost 600 million people (Mindshare Futures and the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, 2017*).

With the primary motivation for using voice being increased efficiency, the focus for any brand interested in developing a voice strategy should be on designing an experience which is faster, simpler or easier than alternative modes of interaction.

With VUI fast-evolving, practical steps for marketers interested in being ahead of the curve include:

Find the ‘micro moments’ where voice interaction adds genuine helpfulness

These micro moments can be identified at different stages along the consumer journey and serve different marketing purposes:

Advice: Providing in-the-moment advice while the consumer is using the product to enhance brand perceptions. An early example includes The Tide – Stain Remover Alexa skill which talks you through how to remove a stain from an item of clothing.

Reduce friction: Minimising the friction around purchase to help drive loyalty and higher revenue. Chinese search giant Baidu’s ‘Duer’ taps into this by allowing people to place restaurant reservations, buy cinema tickets and book flights through simple voice commands.

Customer experience: Helping people get more out of using the product or service to improve the overall customer experience and retention. The latest Apple TV and Sky Q remotes comes with a voice button linked to a microphone which users can speak into to search for content.

Find your voice

Voice interaction offers great potential for brands because is it has been proven to stimulate a stronger emotional reaction from people, conveying brand value by building a sound experience that projects personality and effectively utilises the right tone of voice.

A good voice strategy should consider where the conversation might lead and how best the brand should react. For example, how should a brand respond to particular questions related to competitors?

Designing for a voice user interaction is different to other forms of digital interaction. Some starting points include:

  • Human conversations are based around regular ‘turn taking’. Provide appropriate amounts of questions with the chance for the user to respond and refine.
  • There will inevitably be instances where the user may not be understood. Consider how these moments are dealt with. Suggest alternative options in place of repeating ‘I don’t understand’, or divert the user to a human call centre.

Focus on discoverability

Voice assistants are going to become increasingly influential gatekeepers to the consumer, so ensuring they surface your brand will become increasingly important.

For voice search, look at longtail key words for your paid search spend, focusing on more conversational phrases. Incorporating FAQs within your website which reflect popular voice queries can further help to enhance your SEO for voice search.

The VUI development provides the opportunity for brands to connect with customers in a unique and engaging but unobtrusive way. Designing great VUIs isn’t easy, but there’s little doubt that voice interaction is the way of the future. As users of voice-controlled devices continues to climb steadily, getting your VUI right will be ever more important.


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