Apr 22, 2021 7:59:00 AM
How Voice Will Shape the Future of Chatbots in Customer Service
While traditional telephones are slowly, but steadily becoming a channel of the past within the next generations of customers, voice is the future of customer service. Why? Because it’s convenient, it’s fast and it’s easy. A recent PwC study has found that young consumers (18-24-year olds) drive the adoption of voice technology, but it’s actually the 25-49-year olds who are the “heavy” users.
Since people are already using voice assistants in their daily lives to check the weather, control their smart home, place orders for food and other goods, the use cases will further broaden in the future. By 2024, 8.4 billion digital voice assistants (counted per device) are predicted to be in use (Statista). Customers don’t want to get stuck on hold, they want instant responses and support. The solution? Voice chatbots.
What Are Voice Chatbots?
Today’s most famous voice bots are digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa, living across a range of smart devices. They’re the natural evolution of AI-based chatbots, which enables them not only to support via text but also via voice. Anchored in Natural Language Processing (NLP), voice-enabled chatbots can usually engage both in oral and in written form: receiving voice and text input, giving both outputs and mixing these forms in hybrid models.
Let’s deep dive into the different species of voice bots and the scenarios of how they can support customers and relieve the service department now and in the future.
Offering customer service via voice-enabled platforms such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa allows a convenient conversational experience, especially at home without having to physically pick up a device. But it can also be very intuitive to use on the go: Imagine your hands are full with shopping bags and you want to check on the delivery status of your latest order which you’re excitingly awaiting. With a pair of wireless earbuds and a voice-enabled bot this is an easy task, making a passionate shopper a happy and loyal customer.
Voice In - Text Out
Yet, voice chatbots are not limited to one communication form, device or channel. They’re designed for connectivity and to offer great convenience. The combination of voice input and text output gives multiple options to the customer for interacting with the chatbot. And the possibilities are endless with regard to the integration of the chatbot on messaging platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp.
Talking is just easier and more convenient than typing. Customers can send their requests via voice message which is then transcribed into text by the chatbot. Another option would be to use a dictation function, transforming speech into text in real-time. Just like the user has different options for the input, the bot can give different outputs: Either send the answer as a text message (which could also be read out loud) or reply with a voice message first, giving the customer the option to transcribe it to text later.
Switching Channels and Devices
Let’s face it, for some outcomes voice is not most well-suited medium to convey the desired information e.g. requesting the copy of an invoice and getting it read out loud (😬). In some cases, not only a switch from voice to text, but also in channel and potentially device is necessary. A great use case would be asking the bot via voice for a return label and having it sent via email or text message directly to your smartphone.
A full voice circle with input and output can be offered by bringing voice bots to the traditional phone channel. Let’s be real, some customers will always want to call. But instead of letting them wait for an agent, they’re prompted with a self-service option first. Applying artificial intelligence to the phone channel, customer inquiries are first attempted to be solved automatically, but can be transferred seamlessly to an agent if needed.
Why use voice chatbots in customer service?
Introducing a self-service channel based on voice instead of having people call customer service comes with a few perks both to the customers and service agents.
Voice offers a great user and customer experience as it’s more engaging than text messages by enabling a better form of two-way communication. The experience is furthermore enriched by an immediate response, meaning zero wait time for the customer. Interactions between voice chatbots and customers are more immersive as they mimic personal conversations. If a more human touch is needed to resolve the customer problem, voice chatbots can just like their text-based friends handover to an agent via the preferred channel.
Routing people through a chatbot first on the phone and offering voice chatbots on various other channels makes them the perfect self-service frontier, freeing up the backs of the service agents to enable more meaningful, high-value conversations. On top of this, voice interactions give valuable real-time customer insights to further improve the service experience for the customers.
Karen takes care of Solvemate's content universe as Marketing Communications Manager. When not writing about chatbots, you will find her watching Danish tv series (Dear Netflix, please talk to DR and add some new ones!), doing (aerial) yoga or trying out every recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi.