For businesses of all sizes, the move of people from screen to voice search and interactions may seem a long way in the future – however, when two (if not all) of the big four of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are investing billions in the technology that underpins the behaviour then there is only one ‘direction of travel’.
The move to voice will only increase and as such the opportunities for interacting with customers through voice will only expand over the next 12 months. The marketing collateral that both Google and Amazon have put behind both ‘Home’ and ‘Echo’ will only increase take-up and in many ways – will create its own demand.
The use of voice ‘on-site’ – within the accommodation – is already gaining some traction (although there are some terrible examples of its implementation – which I will write about soon). But looking at voice ‘further upstream’ in the customer journey and specifically around search functions is an area that hotels should also have a very active and understood presence.
So, how can your business serve your customers changing habits and digital interactions with you?
Should you invest time and money in developing voice ready content and services at an earlier point in the customer journey rather than only in the hotel room?
Should you realign your focus to non-screen search?
I’ve pulled together a few questions to ask that create a quick checklist of when to invest in voice services. So, I think you should ask the following questions of any type of service or interaction where you are considering providing a service via a delivery channel of voice;
- Is it easier to reach for a mobile phone to complete the task?
- Are you slowing down, interrupting or distracting the customer from other tasks?
- Are you confusing the customer with too many potential touch points, channels and choice into your business?
If you’ve convinced yourself that there are some considerable benefits to moving to a voice-based service, you should perhaps look towards asking some of the following questions to put some depth to your planning.
- Do you have the data to support voice interactions? i.e. Prices, availability, opening hours etc. in a database (of any kind).
- Can you provide the customer with more information, quickly and accurately? Can you give them a price, availability or a schedule easier and quicker than on screen?
- Can the customer make and confirm a decision/complete an action in this interaction? Is there a clear ‘end-point’ for the customer after they have finished interacting with you via voice?
- Is there a clear next step for your business to complete after the interaction and is that online or offline? Can you easily follow-up (if required) with the client?
- Can the interaction be monetised? Not always immediately (i.e. selling a pair of shoes) but does it improve customer service (and therefore brand reputation) or does it take the customer closer to committing to ‘transacting’ with you?
- Will it build trust of your business for the customer? Will your customers have their opinions of your business reinforced (if positive) and changed (if negative)?
- Will it be used regularly, and can it be updated? Its regular use should be tested with customers and benchmarked. But can you commit to ensuring that the questions, answers and data is constantly checked and maintained. You spend time on your website and social – can you do the same for voice?
- Are you clear over the place of the interaction in a wider customer journey? Do you understand where voice sits within the entire customer journey with you? How does it sit alongside your website, social media and offline interactions? How does your customer journey ‘puzzle’ fit together?
- Can we utilise existing services to get the customer comfortable and trusting of the tech? Do you have existing data or services that can be rapidly deployed into a voice service? I.e. do you have all your products, prices and stock levels together that can be easily searched? If so, then yes you can.
- Can you develop a consistent marketing message for the use of the tech? Can you market the service to your customers simply and easily?
- Can we capture and learn from the interactions and data? Are you going to review the data that Google Home or Amazon Alexa will give you and update or change the services?