With global use of smart speakers, voice notes and AI assistants at an all-time high, it’s no secret that voice technology is rapidly transforming the way we all live, work and communicate.
But this recent surge in the popularity of voice technology doesn’t just show that people want to set timers speedily, check the weather more easily or order groceries on the go.
The booming demand for voice technology in recent years can also tell us a lot about the way customers want to interact with brands - and tapping into this demand could be the key to your business’ success.
Today, we want to explore how businesses can leverage the power of voice to build genuine, long-lasting relationships with their customers - and ensure they stay relevant, competitive and personal in the years to come.
The rise of voice technology
Over the last few years, more and more people have been opting to send voice notes over texting, while voice assistants like Alexa and Siri have found homes in households around the world. In fact, VoiceBot recently reported that 66 million Americans now own a smart speaker. That’s nearly a third of their population!
What’s more, the rise in popularity of audiobooks, podcasts and music streaming platforms tells us that consumers aren’t just looking to speak out loud - they want to listen too.
It seems that over the last few years, without many of us even realising, voice technology has been taking its place at the centre of all our daily lives.
But how are brands responding to consumers’ increased desire to communicate by voice?
Keri McCool, Head of Business Development at Screenmedia, told DIGIT in a recent interview:
“We’ve seen a big rise in interest from companies looking to take advantage of the explosive growth in voice technologies… to such an extent that we had to create a dedicated voice division within Screenmedia to cope with the growth in demand.”
As demand continues to grow, plenty of social platforms are also starting to cotton onto the fact that a lot of the time, people simply want to talk and listen - rather than having to write down their thoughts.
LinkedIn has been offering voice messaging since 2018, claiming it’s faster, easier and more expressive than typing, while Instagram also jumped on the bandwagon less than two years ago.
Then, at the beginning of this month, voice-triggered Snapchat filters appeared on our iPhones, letting users give voice commands like “Hey Snapchat, give me green eyes” to change their appearance on-screen.
Just last week, Twitter announced their new Voice Tweets feature, giving users the option to quite literally ‘speak’ their mind, while a few days ago at the Voice Global Summit, Google’s Baris Gultekin announced that Google Assistant would be rolling out even more new features to keep up with increased consumer demand.
Clearly, many businesses are already recognising consumers’ high demand for voice technology - and beginning to rise to the occasion.
But let’s take a closer look at why it’s so important for even more of us to do that - and what’s really at the heart of consumers’ reliance on voice tech.
Why is voice technology becoming so popular with consumers?
At Telbee, we believe there are two main reasons behind the modern consumer’s love of voice technology:
#1 Voice technology makes life easier
It’s no secret that speaking is faster and easier than typing. It’s one of the first things we learn to do as babies, and it comes completely effortlessly to almost everyone.
Before sending an email, you have to check your spelling, fix any grammatical errors and make sure your tone comes across just right. But all of this ceases to be an issue when talking, as people are free to speak in whatever way feels natural to them.
Added to this, voice technology allows modern consumers to send messages and consume content on the go. In today’s busy world, people are finding themselves multi-tasking more than ever; setting their reminders for the day as they do the ironing or tuning into their favourite podcast while driving to work. Why should they not also be able to communicate with businesses on the move?
Certainly, voice technology has the potential to take away a lot of the hassle associated with talking to businesses.
As voice technology begins to take the world by storm, people will spend less time typing, dealing with impersonal chatbots and being forced to wait on hold in a lengthy phone call. Instead, by allowing customers to send them voice notes, brands will simply be able to let customers express themselves quickly and effortlessly before going about their day.
#2 Customers want to engage more personally with businesses
We believe that the key reason voice is dominating as a new medium for interaction is that talking is far more human than typing - and communicates far more than the written word ever could.
Automating your business processes with chatbots and instant messaging might seem like the way forward as far as speed and convenience are concerned - but with customers demanding more personalised experiences than ever, it’s never been more crucial for brands to retain their human touch.
On an emotional level, we all know that hearing someone speak conveys so much more than typing - and that a lot of the time, it’s not about what you say, but how you say it.
Reading the word ‘lol’ on your screen doesn’t hold a candle to hearing a friend's real laugh. And slapping an exclamation mark on the end of a sentence can't compare to to using a genuinely enthusiastic tone of voice.
Essentially, humans are social creatures and we’re programmed to bond through speaking and listening to one another. Voice is the most powerful relationship-building tool we have - and has been for millennia!
Importantly, listening to each other speak is crucial to building trust in relationships. One study by Harvard Law School linked speech to our ability to recognise honesty and authenticity, while Phoebe Ohayon (Head of Design at Voice Branding) stated at this year’s Voice Global Summit that within the first 2 seconds of hearing a voice, we automatically decide whether or not we trust it.
Ultimately, communicating through voice helps us build trust, express more emotion and create a far more authentic, human relationship with the person we’re speaking to.
Modern consumers want to feel valued and appreciated - and now more than ever, they’re demanding to be heard.
Why should businesses strive to meet this demand?
In a world where you can access almost anything at the click of a button, the key differentiator between competing brands has become the quality of the customer experience they provide.
And when it comes to engaging your customers and staying ahead of the competition, human connection is the name of the game.
Ultimately, all businesses are going to have to change the way they think about communicating with their customers if they want to continue winning their business.
To provide a five-star customer experience, you’ll need to begin interacting with people on a personal level - and making sure you're letting them decide how they want to be heard.
By tapping into consumers’ desire to speak to businesses in a way that’s as personal as it is convenient, you’re capitalising on a prime opportunity to make your customers’ lives easier, build trust and show them you care.
Particularly during the UK lockdown of 2020, we saw voice technology become more important than ever, as people began looking to voice technology for more authentic and personal ways to communicate with friends, colleagues and businesses.
In recent months, social distancing has led people to rely more and more on voice notes over texting when talking to their friends, and has also led to both customers and brands looking for new ways to communicate more personally and effectively with each other.
Great British Voices, who specialise in creating corporate voiceovers for international businesses, have also noticed an increase in the demand for voiceover talent - as well as a shift in the type of voiceover content that both brands and consumers are looking for. Alexandria, of Great British Voices, reported:
"As schools remain closed or have strict limitations in place, at least for the foreseeable future, we expect explainers to become more mainstream in everyday education. Audiobook narrators may also become more in-demand, not just to educate, but to encourage imagination and creativity, especially in younger kids where home-schooling is currently routine."
And, as we look towards a 'new normal', it appears that our newfound reliance on voice technology is here to stay.
As working and studying from home becomes just another part of our daily routine, we predict that voice technology will only become more vital in helping us all stay educated, engaged and connected in meaningful yet convenient new ways.
The far-reaching potential of voice technology for business
At telbee, we believe that all brands should strive to be as human as possible - and use technology to enrich, not stifle, their conversations with customers.
That’s why we developed telbee; the voice messaging platform for business.
telbee couples the convenience of instant messaging with the personal touch of a phone call, allowing businesses to exchange voice notes with their customers and engage them in real, human conversation.
To name just a few examples of how we believe this new voice-first technology should be used (by businesses of all shapes and sizes):
- To inform your marketing efforts
Use voice messaging for marketing to understand what your customers need and want, and engage them to drive growth.
- To build community
By enabling you to gather rich audio content, feature customers in live podcasts or run focus groups for your followers, voice tech can also help you build an online community for your brand.
- To enhance education and coaching
When used in schools, voice technology can help teachers engage their students by allowing them to submit spoken - rather than written - assignments or send questions after class.
- To improve online accessibility
Last - but not definitely not least - voice technology can be used to help brands improve the accessibility of their website for customers, allowing people with bad vision, poor reading skills or who struggle with typing due to a physical condition to communicate quickly and easily with their favourite brands.
The future begins today
There’s no denying that voice technology is on the rise - and that the demand is only going to grow from here.
To meet your customers’ needs, stay ahead of the competition and ensure you never lose your brand’s personal touch, start letting your customers decide how they want to be heard.
Remember that voice technology is not here to replace typing, but simply to enrich the customer experience by allowing people to decide how they want to interact with you.
Start putting the human touch back into your business, and you’ll be surprised by how positively your customers respond. The only way you’ll look back is to appreciate how far you’ve come.
To find out how our voice messaging platform can complement your brand's marketing and support channels, get in touch with telbee today!