TechBytes with Jon Buss, Managing Director, Yext

Jon Buss, Managing Director at Yext

Jon Buss
Managing Director at Yext

Yext‘s research highlights Electronics (39%), Groceries (35%), Books (23%) and Fashion (22%) as the most promising retail sectors for voice search in the UK. We spoke to Jon Buss, Managing Director at Yext, to understand his predictions on the voice-led e-commerce experience for 2019.

Tell us about your role at Yext and the team/technology you handle.

We are witnessing an unprecedented change in consumer behavior with the rise of mobile and, now, voice-based technologies. Consumers are discovering businesses and making purchasing decisions on the go, so it’s critical that businesses manage their online information everywhere consumers are searching.

Yext’s mission is to give companies control over their brand experiences across the digital universe of maps, apps, search engines, voice assistants and other intelligent services that drive consumer discovery, decision and action. Brands such as Tesco, Marriott and Jaguar Land Rover use Yext to manage their digital knowledge in order to boost brand engagement, drive foot traffic and increase sales.

As Managing Director of the UK and Northern Europe, my role is to accelerate expansion into Europe, making it easier for businesses of all sizes to manage their online business information at scale and focus on building stronger relationships with their customers.

What are the major challenges in the current Age of Voice Search?

One important challenge with voice search is that when a user asks a question, they are given one answer — often the first organic search result. If a brand is not discoverable to people using voice search then they miss out on a huge opportunity.

Equally, if the brand is discovered but the information shared in the voice result is incorrect then a bad customer experience is provided. There is then a loss of trust among customers and potentially even reputational damage for the brand in question.

Yext commissioned investigative research with 2,000 UK consumers. Among the most striking findings is that as many as 70% of respondents have yet to act on the results provided by voice search alone. Meaning, they are still looking to cross-check the information offered up by voice search tools with what they can find on their phones and computers.

What key areas of Branding and Experience Management does the new report touch?

Delving into the root cause of consumer apprehension around voice search results, the new report focuses on a core part of Branding and Experience Management that many businesses may not have realized is so closely interlinked with voice search – digital knowledge management.

Ensuring that users can find up-to-date information on location, ratings and opening hours is vital if users are to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, these are also the types of information most commonly found to be inaccurate because many businesses are not managing this data properly.

In the UK, 35% of consumers express that they have discovered inaccurate opening hours upon checking with the physical store. 21% have seen inaccurate locations listed and over a quarter (26%) haven’t been able to get in touch due to incorrect contact details. Brands need to play their part and ensure their business information is accurate — many don’t realize they need to be the source of truth about location, menus, hours — everything.

Where do you see voice-led e-commerce experience heading in 2019?

Our research highlights Electronics (39%), Groceries (35%), Books (23%) and Fashion (22%) as the most promising retail sectors for voice search in the UK. Why? Because these are the fast-moving consumer goods sectors, where consumers are most likely to inquire about store locations, opening hours and contact information.

Crucially, sectors such as grocery are also the most likely to have seen consumers order a product before and, therefore, know what they’re looking for, enabling them to re-order products easily without needing to see the product first either on or offline.

How does Yext empower brands to find their voice?

Voice-powered services rely on structured data to provide rich results like hours, addresses or menus. So, brands need to ensure that their website’s content is structured in a way that these services understand. Yext makes it easy to add structured data (also known as Schema) to a website with just a single line of code.

In this way, Yext helps brands structure and manage all the public facts they want these services to know. Our direct integration with Amazon Alexa — as well as integrations with Google, Apple, Bing, Facebook, Yelp and more than 100 other leading services — makes sure that those facts make their way into the databases behind the voice-powered services of today and tomorrow.

What are your predictions on the state of Voice-based Marketing Intelligence for 2018-2022?

The voice technology revolution is not just occurring within the home. Hotels, restaurants and the wider hospitality industry are rapidly adopting new tools and solutions to keep pace with the demands of modern consumers. This propagation of voice-enabled industries will see voice-based marketing intelligence become even more advanced.

Watson Assistant (launched March 2018) is a great example of the leaps already made in this respect. It’s designed to enable the creation of branded voice experiences and IBM is currently advertising it to hospitality, automobile, and customer service industries.

Which is the biggest and most disruptive event of 2018 that made the greatest impact on your vision in this industry?

There have been some fantastic advancements throughout 2018 in the hospitality sector. For instance, take the Marriott hotel chain; its partnership with Amazon will feature in-room Echo smart speakers at select properties to act as a ‘virtual butler’. This marks an innovative new chapter in the Alexa story.

An astute move from a global tech giant, the confines of a hotel room offer probably the most secluded and suitably private environment for voice assistant interaction while traveling, while simultaneously showcasing Amazon’s technology to potential new users.

Thanks for chatting with us, Jon.

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