Customers love technology, but they crave human interaction too. Several years ago, Gartner predicted customers would manage 85 percent of their relationships with an enterprise without interacting with a human being. But a PwC survey from last year found that 82 percent of Americans and 75 percent of all consumers want to interact with a real person.
That creates a thorny dilemma for companies. Businesses are going all-in on digital transformation so they can compete and win in the future. But they also know business survival depends on their ability to consistently deliver great customer experience. So, how can companies bridge the gap between what they need to do in the digital arena and what customers want? Human Voice on Demand (HVoD) technology combines the best of both worlds by making voice tech more human. Here’s how it works:
1. Tell a Story in a Brand’s Own Voice
Human beings are hardwired for storytelling. Neuroscience suggests that hearing or reading a descriptive story engages not only the brain’s language processing centers but also sensory perception regions of our grey matter. When we hear or read a story, the action takes place inside our heads, and the act of imagination that ensues imparts a richer experience than being spoon-fed someone else’s vision on a screen. (Maybe that’s why the book is almost always better than the movie!)
But to engage that level of imagination, we require trust and a sense of safety. Conversation allows people to communicate intuitively, discuss abstract concepts and get what they want. Maslow’s hierarchy outlines that people need a baseline of security before they can engage in a relationship. That’s true of interpersonal relationships as well as the relationship between a person and a brand. By virtue of its ability to deliver a rich experience to listeners, voice is uniquely capable of establishing trust and safety and enabling such relationships.
2. Get Emotional with Customers
Lived experience might explain why many so consumers would rather talk to a person than an automated voice system. Early voice tech applications often failed to deliver a great experience. Who among us hasn’t been trapped in a nightmarish, endless loop with an automated voice response system, unable to get answers to basic questions or to reach someone who can? More modern chatbots may be an improvement, but they can come across like an overly scripted salesperson who doesn’t respond to emotional cues.
Modern voice tech can eliminate that issue. With HVoD, companies can deploy emotionally-relevant content that creates trust and safety, engaging customers on voice-first devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home (as well as other channels like Inbound and Outbound PBX, Chatbots, Virtual Agents, SMS and email). Brands can have a unique voice that resonates with their customers and can build and use a brand-centric audio content library, creating scripts and conversations from industry and use case-specific templates so that customers are engaged in an appropriate tone.
3. Solve Customer Problems and Answer Questions
A well-designed HVoD system can harness the power of voice to inspire trust and create connections with a customer experience that feels more human. But an AI-enabled, data-driven HVoD solution also offers advantages human agents can’t match, like the ability to analyze huge datasets in an instant, identify patterns and quickly find answers.
This super-human processing capacity is why AI is already transforming the practice of medicine, with deep learning applications capable of evaluating medical images like X-rays to diagnose conditions with almost 100 percent accuracy. As one physician at Massachusetts General Hospital put it, “We’re at a point right now where doctors can’t keep up with everything they need to know. We need a machine to help us do that.” In a customer service and marketing context, customers appreciate accurate answers, even if they come from a machine.
So, if there is a dilemma because a company needs to automate customer interactions, but customers want the personal touch, the solution is the best of both worlds: technology that is more natural sounding and inspires customer connections. HVoD technology delivers a rich, intuitive experience that is personal enough to listeners to enhance trust and engage their interests. It is a solution that responds in an emotionally-appropriate way, and it’s smart and fast enough to give customers the information they need.
In short, technology is more human.
It’s not as futuristic as it sounds, though. Set in the near future, the Spike Jonze film “Her” centers on a lonely man, Theodore, who falls in love with an AI-driven operating system named Samantha. The warmth in the operating system’s voice and the empathy, curiosity and humor “she” displays wins Theodore over. In the movie, a voice, emotions and intelligence are enough to form a deep connection between man and machine.
Of course, deciding to deploy an advanced HVoD system to form deeper connections between a brand and its customers via content delivered in an on-brand voice doesn’t necessarily mean customers will get romantically attached to the technology solution. But if the system can engage listeners, respond in an emotionally relevant way and quickly and accurately answer their questions, customers may start to fall in love with the experience, at least a little bit. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.