Voice: the dividing line between cool and creepy is thin

Simple searches via voice are becoming more common. However, there are still some thresholds for commercial purposes. Which are these and how do you deal with them? The user interface has changed considerably over the years. The big line is that it is becoming less and less visible. The classic 'click on a screen' is increasingly being replaced by other ways of interaction such as gestures, facial expression or voice

Simple searches via voice are becoming more common. However, there are still some thresholds for commercial purposes. Which are these and how do you deal with them?

The user interface has changed considerably over the years. The big line is that it is becoming less and less visible. The classic 'click on a screen' is increasingly being replaced by other ways of interaction such as gestures, facial expression or voice. The last way is developing strongly. Voice substantially changes the interaction with the internet. Just as we had to make the internet mobile-enabled, a switch to voice-enabled is now required. That is a bigger blow than that from desktop to mobile, because there was the same kind of interaction with the customer.

Gain confidence

Positive for the acceptance and development of voice applications is that people find it a fun, interesting technology that they like to try. Currently they use the technology mainly for asking simple questions. For commercial success, there is still a challenge in winning trust. In the US we have done research on the attitude of the consumer towards voice. That revealed five interesting key points:

  • Little knowledge of the possibilities of voice. Almost everyone has heard about it, but it is not clear what you can do more than just search.
  • A lack of confidence in technology. There are concerns about what happens to data and whether voice assistants are not constantly listening. The dividing line between cool and creepy is very thin.
  • Accuracy of the algorithms. The technology is still under development, so that the use is not always without fits and starts. Consumers who have to repeat questions, for example, are inclined to drop out.
  • Price and complexity. What are the differences between the assistants? And can they control the devices that I already have?
  • Fear of unauthorized transactions. Users are afraid that assistants do assignments on their own. As happened with a TV program where a dollhouse was ordered via a speaker. Numerous assistants then carried out this assignment.

Skip ads

For the business community, the way in which you convey your commercial message is completely different. The advertising experience changes considerably. You can not place banners so you have to find new ways to advertise via a speaker. The good news is that consumers are positive about commercial messages in this new medium. For example, 88 per cent find it no problem to get an advertisement if they can skips. Furthermore, 82 percent say they appreciate it if they are asked in advance if they want to hear the message. And 81 percent think it's no problem as long as the ad does not bother with what they're doing, like listening to music.

It is also interesting that 79 percent of consumers like it when advertising is only played at pre-approved times. Furthermore, 70 percent would like to interact with the advertisements. That is the same number as the people who want to hear ads that are geared to the likes they leave on social media. Likewise, a substantial proportion does not find it a problem even if advertisements are seamlessly integrated into the questions they ask. For example as a sponsored answer.

Who determines where something is bought?

The consumer is therefore positive about voice as a new sales and communication channel. In order to benefit from this, however, you must understand your consumer's behavior very well. What do your customers want and how do you approach them on an individual level? At what time or in what situation? Currently we see that voice is mainly used as a replacement for typing questions. The smarter tasks such as a shopping list to speak or the heating with the voice are done to a lesser extent. But people are not always aware that this is possible.

This can change quickly. A technology like voice is developing rapidly. The introduction of a new device or feature can allow the growth to explode. Think of streaming music that took a flight when a telecom company gave away a premium Spotify subscription for free with a bundle. We are already seeing, for example, that a large national supermarket is actively pointing consumers to the possibility of entering a shopping list.

Possibly the biggest challenge is to get to know the aforementioned thin dividing line between cool and creepy. Personalization can be very useful but also the feeling that a machine knows things that consumers do not want to share. If you are on the wrong side of this dividing line, this will result in brand damage. People are particularly vigilant. And consumer preferences are sometimes quite surprising. For example, in the study we encountered a lady who would not like to receive dress recommendations via a speaker on the basis of her purchase history at times when she is not alone. An aspect that you would not think about with another device.

Characteristic is also that changes who determines where something is purchased. The machines will understand what you want, sometimes even without asking for it. The big question is who they will order from. Which parties enter the living room? How important are brand names?

In addition to issues about branding, there is the issue of data ownership. The device makers have a strong position of power: they collect all data about the consumer. Manufacturers who are in the ecosystem of the device may not be able to access it here. The relationships between the various links in the value chain are therefore different for voice, unless agreements are made between manufacturer and supplier.

Do it differently

The great thing is that in our country we have the right infrastructure and the mindset of early adopters, so that we can use the opportunities of voice. The Netherlands is a very good market for testing and validating a new technology. With voice the emphasis will be even more on customer centricity . What does flexible companies need to have a good grip on the data game? And that, especially if the device producers do not deliver the required data, can generate and access the necessary data themselves. To be able to do things differently the day after tomorrow.