I'M LUCKY TO BE BASED IN RURAL DORSET. i'm probably best described as A DIGITAL STRATEGIST. I EXPLORe DIGITAL AND SUPPORT BUSINESSES all over the uk IN USING IT TO THEIR AND THEIR CUSTOMERS ADVANTAGE.

Finding your voice..

“The next big thing.” “You must use this tech.” “Brand success and therefore your success depends on it.” “Users are all over it.” “The future is here.” 

These same phrases are repeated time after time when a new technology or service comes to ‘market’ be this as a demo or as a product. Mainly by marketers, sometimes by agencies, occasionally by those involved in the actual development of the technology.

Guess what - these phrases are total rubbish whilst being completely true. Apart from the future is here – because it never is………ever…the future is always the future…. just like yesterday is always yesterday right? #digitalbull

Now is the time of Voice interactions. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Google and Amazon have seen to that. I’m specifically focusing on voice for a moment rather than the wider subject of chatbots – which have been around for around five years in one interface form or another. 

And I’m not talking about Voice search, I’m interested in voice interactions – which are (in the real world) merely one part of someone’s overall relationship with a company, brand or individual – and that is the same with their use in a more digital sense. Taking that wider view of voice in a tech and “next big thing” sense does give it a little more honesty, credibility and potential positive impact.

There have been plenty of false starts – for example Siri has been a minefield from day one and people will always try and undermine and voice (or in the future gesture) interfaces and there will undoubtedly be a few ‘challenges’. 

The main challenge will be initially ignoring the wider potential of voice and driving straight into the minutiae. Counter-intuitive huh? Well I suppose being a strategist means you need to think longer term. 

Many brands and agencies will I think, try to build an entire relationship and therefore experience around voice – I think this would be a mistake. As ever we need to look, listen and learn from ourselves as to what the best use of tech can be. 

Humans interact with each other through sight, touch, voice, taste and ultimately emotion – therefore blending voice smartly within a larger, wider and maybe slower burning experience(s) – both on and offline - could create more fulfilling (commercially and emotionally) relationships. 

This is not merely creating several touch-points and placing technology (including voice) at certain points in an engagement journey with a user – it is blending all technologies, channels and platforms at each point of journey and using the tools at their disposal to give a user what they need using whatever tool they have to hand, voice or on their wrist.

Now this takes time, research, testing, calmness, patience, a considered and effective understanding of users, humans, behaviour and of course a strategic view of the type of relationship you want to build. Whether you are a business or an individual trying to create a relationship – you need all those assets to make a relationship work. 

Developing voice interactions based around small very human needs – asking the time, checking a balance, the weather, the price of a specific item, creating a list, setting a reminder – is where to start – making small, but noticeable improvements in interacting with customers can enhance experiences and starts to build trusting relationships. 

Looking upon these as ‘micro’ interactions is a good starting point and enables us to learn and build larger and more robust interactions and platforms as the technology improves, adoption increases and ultimately the relationship improves and is built on trust - which as we know creates openness in a relationship. 

So, forget about voice being ‘always on’, forget about voice guiding customers through an entire list of services and choices, make voice a small, barely noticeable way of interacting, blend practically with other technologies and channels, monitor, have patience and slowly build trust through micro experiences which will ultimately lead to stronger relationships.

Customer Engagement is always on…

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