We just released our new report, From Eyes to Ears: Getting Your Brand Heard in the New Age of 'Voice,' which explores how organizations are preparing for a brand landscape dominated by voice. When it comes to transacting with the world, we're rapidly shifting from using our eyes to read text and our fingers to swipe, to using our voice and ears to talk and listen. Soon, voice interfaces will expand beyond smart speakers and be embedded in chatbots, applications, products and services. Whether digital or brick-and-mortar, businesses will have to pivot to voice to be heard by today's and tomorrow's customers. Perhaps the author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk summarizes the shift best: "Voice platforms are the equivalent of yet-to-be-discovered Malibu beachfront property, much like Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2012.
Our research reveals the following important trends, whose impact in some cases will soon ripple around the world:
- COVID-19: An inflection point for "gradual" to "sudden" voice adoption. The shift toward voice will only accelerate, with the great majority of respondents (93%) believing that voice will gain further momentum, thanks to continued interest in contactless interactions.
- Brands that adopt voice technology quickly will have a first-mover advantage. A large majority of respondents (74%) view voice as important or extremely important for their business. The scope and scale of voice will be enormous as companies explore new ways of doing business and connecting with customers and service to employees.
- Voice means money. In our earlier research, "Algorithms Over Brands," 43% of consumers said they would buy from a company they hadn't heard of but that's recommended by their voice-based personal assistant. As consumers become more comfortable having conversations with their voice-based assistants, their influence on purchase decisions will increase. Considering massive opportunities ahead, on average, companies plan to spend 3% of their revenues on building voice capabilities in the next five years. And they've got high expectations for returns, as they're aiming to drive 6.3% of their revenue through voice during the same period.
- Use cases are primarily focused on customer engagement, but employee applications aren't far behind. Quicker response time to customers, (65%), personalization (60%) and improving customer service levels (57%) are the top three areas companies plan to pursue with voice. Additionally, half of respondents plan to apply voice to internal, employee-facing applications.
- Getting there won't be easy. Only 40% of respondents feel confident about their ability to integrate voice into existing business processes. Privacy (89%), creating content for voice (84%) and developing a voice personality (81%) are the top three challenges companies face or anticipate on their voice journey.
Based on our study, we've created a three-phased maturity model to help businesses find their brand's voice: discovery, engagement and amplification. A key tenet of our maturity model is that each stage of maturity increases consumer trust, which also serves to increase business value. At the heart of this maturity model are natural language processing, machine learning and other AI technologies that will imbue the voice solution with intelligence and enable it to improve over time.
The three stages of the model are:
- Discovery: Optimize content to be found by voice-based search mechanisms while honing your organization's voice skills.
- Enhancement: Build voice functionalities and add them to mobile apps, websites and products/services.
- Amplification: Use voice capabilities as a new revenue stream.
We are at the dawn of the voice-first era, but this era is evolving at unprecedented speed. The key is to activate your brand voice across the business value chain to write the next chapter of business growth. Want to learn more about the future of voice? Check out our latest report to know what's in store for the future of voice in Asia-Pacific. Share it, offer your feedback, but above all enjoy!