Voice search: How could it change your customer's journey?

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comScore estimates that by 2020, we will be performing over 200 billion voice searches per month. As a result, we are undoubtedly going to see a vast change in human behaviour and attitudes towards digital assistants within the few years.

So, as people change the way they search online, how are businesses, brands and marketers changing in line with this trend? Will they keep up or will they simply fall to the wayside?  

Getting ahead of the game will be a benefit for those that are willing to take the leap. With customers expecting a more personalised experience than ever, the landscape in customer service is expected to accelerate at a rapid rate. One noticeable driver for this change is that, in the mobile world, we expect to be able to get almost anything through the tips of our fingers.

This expectation is beginning to be reflected in our homes with the introduction of digital assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home making an on-demand culture ubiquitous.

The voice search market is expanding at rapid rate. Is your business ready?

By 2020, 50% of all online searches will be performed by voice, demonstrating a shift in how people will communicate and in turn how companies will operate.

Voice search is used by 42% of people today. As you might expect, those under 34 have adopted this technology a great deal faster than any other generation. However, due to perhaps reluctance to speak to their devices in public, people aged over 34 are more likely to use voice search technology in the comfort of their home or car.

So what are people using voice search for? According to moz.com there’s a clear difference in how each generation use the technology. Amongst adults, 40% are asking for directions, 39% are texting and 31% for dial assist. However, 43% of teens use voice search to call someone, 38% ask for directions and 31% ask for support with homework.

Customer experience will become hyper personalised and connect to everything.

For customers to see the true benefit to voice search, the technology and content need to start to be able to answer the basic questions.

According to Bing, research has shown that voice search queries currently break down as follows: How 40%, What 35%, Where 14%, Who 5% and Why 4%. The technology and the content must also deliver the essential personalisation and conversational tone of voice that will differentiate any particular service from another.

For customers to truly be able to recognise the benefits of voice search, suppliers must also be able to integrate with one another to ensure each component connects as one. After all, what is the benefit of being ‘always connected’ if you are required to swap platforms, devices or service providers or cannot complete different tasks required.

For customers to truly be able to recognise the benefits of voice search, suppliers must also be able to integrate with one another to ensure each component connects as one.

For example, imagine you’re in your kitchen making lunch and you digital assistant reads out a new email – you need to book a trip to Amsterdam for work. You ask your digital assistant to research best flight options, you book your flight, book parking at the local airport, make a hotel reservation and even dinner for your first night.

All of these is done using your digital voice activated assistant. You don’t want any restrictions on being able to complete these tasks and you expect that each of the apps (airlines, airport, hotels, and restaurants) can communicate with your digital assistant and complete the task without any barriers. 

A few examples of early adopters of voice search meeting customer needs are are brands such as Uber, which supports voice activated ordering and real-time updates, and Starbucks, which employs an app to enable customers to use voice to order, as well as allowing customers to pay via the app so that they can simply walk into the stores and pick up a coffee. This means their customers can seamlessly continue their day without any interruptions or hassle.

The first step is the hardest

Ensuring your services rank well on search engines like Google is still very important but now there a new way for your customer to search and find you or your competitors. It’s all about ensuring that the content and service that you’re providing is tailored directly to those you’re targeting using a UI and search method. It’s about delivering the best possible customer experience from the very moment your customer conducts a voice search. However, for this to be become a reality, the background set-up must be in place.

Content that is structured to answer questions like how, what, where, who and why. Content that features a variety of questions and answers that customers ask when conducting voice searches often achieves the best results. However, this is only the beginning, everything from links, titles and content must also be finely tuned towards the end user.

Of course, the traditional technique of front loading your content providing everything your customer is looking for, gives a hook so they read further. The challenge still remains in ensuring that your content and services remains of high quality and doesn’t become useless.

What is going to set you apart?

As the voice search market continues to raise, one clear market differentiator businesses can harness is being able to transcend multilingual markets. Currently, the top three languages in terms of users globally are English (26%), Chinese (20%) and Spanish (18%). But with over 50% of all content online is published in only English, demonstrating a huge difference between languages and the vast opportunities for non-English markets.

If businesses are able to provide a multilingual services ahead of their competitors, it provides them with the edge to gain controlling interest over that particular market. This will require the current approach of a lot of companies, where content is developed and managed in silo between languages to be removed. The approach isolates different languages from one another, and reduces the experience a customer may have because they don’t speak English.

Through regular testing and analysis of what people are asking, voice search has the potential to break the current language barrier to customer experience and service. Only by introducing a truly integrated globally technology for all customers will this become a reality.

Aoife McIlraith is senior director of global search and marketing services at Lionbridge.

 

About Aoife McIlraith

Aoife McIlaith

Aoife McIlraith is the Senior Director of Global Marketing & Search Services at Lionbridge Digital. Aoife has been working in marketing for over 16 years and is a Global SME (subject matter expert) on '360 view' of Content, Search, international SEO, content discoverability, content creation, digital transformations and execution for global digital strategies. Aoife works with brands to enable seamless globally optimised content delivery processes for an omni-channel user experience. 

Aoife's expertise comes from a deep understanding of digital channels, user engagement aligned to global requirements. Aoife is also a qualified programmer and developer providing a powerful combination of digital marketing and technology that provide a 360 degree view of the global digital landscape.

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