It's All About Voice Apps
February 25, 2013
The telephone has always been the ubiquitous instrument sitting in the corner of your office with a huge potential that was never fully realized, until Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology was introduced.
Over the years, enterprises have been using live call center agents to handle calls from customers, but this method can be very expensive. So, IVR systems positioned themselves as the alternative to live agents, providing self-service to enterprise information seekers around the clock. Customers expect to interact with a company on their own time, while simultaneously expecting a personalized customer experience. The rapid growth of mobile applications has given businesses an additional channel to provide better customer experiences.
Recent advances in speech recognition technology have led to opportunities for enterprises to provide a new interface to existing software applications to their customers as well as their employees and vendors. Enterprises are looking towards voice-enabled applications to provide them the competitive advantage in today’s market. They are already providing their customers with valuable information through call centers manned by live agents or through interactive Web applications, so the integration of a voice-based interface adds value to the existing application by increasing reach.
Image via uttambaba.blogspot.com
Today, the voice-enabled application market is being flooded with apps, including Siri, Google (News - Alert) Voice, and now Winston. But, what exactly differentiates one from the other? According to Kelly Weinhold, product strategist for Angel, a provider of mid-market and enterprise focused, cloud-based customer experience solutions, these three voice apps are quite different.
“Google Voice enables app developers to add voice recognition features to their apps -- so this one is not an app in and of itself, but the underlying technology to add voice functionality into apps. Siri is an assistant, able to do basic tasks like transcribe emails or text messages, perform simple Web searches, or create reminders. Winston on the other hand, is a one-way communication app -- you cannot talk to Winston, only Winston can talk to you -- and he will perform one task only in updating the user on headlines and friend happenings,” Weinhold explained to TMCnet in a recent interview.
Consumers naturally look for mobile applications that are intuitive and that add efficiency to their lives, but there are some core features that consumers should look for in a voice app. “The more personalized and customized an app can be, the better the experience will be for the consumer,” said Weinhold.
Additionally, focusing on a quality user design will yield more use by consumers, and as voice becomes a more popular feature, the best apps will be ones that seamlessly offer a multi-modal experience to the user. This means that the user can use voice when they want, but they are also being fed information visually.
“For example, if I would like to order flowers, I can do most of the transaction by voice, however, I will want to simultaneously see pictures of flowers that I can order,” she explained.
When businesses investigate the world of mobile voice, Weinhold suggests that they evaluate the ease-of-use of embedding voice recognition technology into their applications. Simultaneously, they should be investigating how the reporting and analytics will work in the app and benefit both the business and consumer.
“As this is still a very new space, it is imperative that companies track when and where in the app users utilize voice, where they are successful, where they fail,” she said. “All this data will enable companies to iteratively improve their app, and therefore, improve customer experience.”
Today, Angel offers a voice app, Lexee – a software development kit that allows companies of any size to integrate voice into their mobile app. Since the introduction of Apple’s (News - Alert) Siri in 2011, Angel has wondered how it would evolve in the mobile voice activation space. Lexee can be utilized to create a new app which is a customized virtual assistant for the company. In addition to adding speech recognition and text-to-speech services to a company’s app, Angel provides access to CX Analytics to empower companies to see what users are doing and be able to update and improve the app when needed, enhancing the overall experience.
A cloud-based self-service product like Lexee provides businesses with a solution that can be accessed from any location and modified at any time. Self-service technology helps companies make changes to the conversation in a timely manner without having to contact the technology provider to make the changes for them, which saves time and money.
Edited by Rich Steeves