New research finds that customers increasingly want their voices heard by brands, literally. Capgemini Research Institute’s Smart Talk: How organizations and consumers are embracing voice and chat assistants study surveyed more than 12,000 consumers who use chat and voice assistants, as well as 1,000 executives representing top industries. The study highlighted the growing popularity of conversational assistance and the business benefits the marketplace is seeing as a result.
According to the report, usage of virtual assistants increased from 2017 to 2019 in a number of areas, including purchases (from 35 percent to 53 percent), customer service (from 37 percent to 52 percent), and making payments (from 28 percent to 48 percent).
Much of this consumer adoption is new. The research found that 40 percent of consumers started using voice and chat assistance within the past year, compared to just 4 percent who said they’ve been using the technology for five or more years.
The survey found that customers are generally pleased with their assistant experiences. Global satisfaction ratings for voice assistance technology on smartphones and speakers ranked just over 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively.
But there’s still a shadow of mistrust for these devices. The study pointed out that over 50 percent of customers are worried about voice assistants listening to private conversations, and they still generally prefer to talk to real humans for high-involvement or complex tasks.
Virtual assistants are good for business
Consumer adoption has led to ROI, according to the research. Over three-quarters of businesses (76%) that have deployed voice and chat assistants said they have realized quantifiable benefits from voice or chat assistant initiatives, and 58 percent said that those benefits had met or exceeded their expectations. Benefits included lower customer service costs and call deflection of up to 20 percent as consumers use digital assistants to get their questions answered.
But the report also found that fewer than half of the top 100 companies in automotive, consumer products and retail, and banking and insurance have deployed voice and chat capabilities.
4 ways to amplify voice and chat assistant CX
To help organizations tactfully deploy conversational assistants, the survey outlined four recommendations:
1. Balance the human and tech: Don’t leave humans behind when customers interact with your tools. Live associates can step in to provide personalized touches alongside chatbots, or the bot can pass off the issue smoothly to an associate if it requires empathy and care. But this all rests on an organization having the data and services capable of merging these two types of services seamlessly.
2. Take the experience to the next level: Complement digital assistants with multimedia such as images and video to create a higher level of immersion and service. This is highly valuable in industries such as automotive where users may need to find certain models.
3. Have the right skills for the job: There needs to seasoned experts behind implementing conversational assistants. A good interface needs the following: experts who are versed in next-best-action and machine learning, bots designed to learn and adapt throughout their lifecycle, and strict regulations on the assistants to ensure that your reputation or customer experience isn’t damaged by faulty tech.
4. Make customers a priority: When an organization is deciding what to automate, consider how it will affect the customer experience, not just the ROI. Does it make sense or is it just plugged in for technology sake?
These recommendations echo TTEC’s focus on humanizing digital and digitally enabling humans. It’s exciting to have new technology and interaction channels to offer customers, but make sure any tech is driven by customer and business needs. When tools and technologies are user-friendly and solve customer issues, then adoption and ROI will naturally follow.