Your guide to voice chatbots – and why your business needs one

voice chatbots

Any business owner who had the resources to serve every single customer with a highly trained human agent would do exactly that. Who doesn’t like personal customer service from an attentive, informed customer service agent, or maybe a skilled voice chatbots?

The reality is different: cost and competitive pressures mean that most companies can’t afford to employ armies of customer service agents. Economic imperatives imply the use of effective tools such as chatbots. But customers can get frustrated entering text responses and receiving text replies – most people don’t like typing all that much.

Thankfully, voice chatbots promise to be a happy medium.

But that’s not the whole story.

Voice chatbots are set to become an essential customer service channel, simply because customers love interacting with their devices using voice.

Keep reading to see how voice chatbots deliver both cost-effective customer support, and highly personalized customer experience.

What exactly is a voice chatbot?

OK, to understand what a voice chatbot is we first have to understand what a chatbot is.

In the context of customer service, a chatbot is an online service that interacts with customers, while referencing business data – order history, available products, etc. Chatbots can be delivered over a range of channels: one chatbot could be a pop-up box on a website, another chatbot could message a customer directly on WhatsApp.

Furthermore, chatbots make use of artificial intelligence and its branches – natural language processing and machine learning.

As you may have guessed, the key difference with a voice chatbot is the “voice” element.

Both text chatbots and voice chatbots exist to help customers accomplish day to day tasks without the need to interact with a tired (and expensive!) human agent.

How a text chatbot differs from a voice chatbot

Voice chatbots and text chatbots are, to be honest, not all that different – particularly from a technological perspective. The key difference is the voice component, but in practice voice chatbots merely add an additional computational layer: the ability to process voice.

Behind the scenes, both bots rely on the same AI, and the same enterprise data to serve your customers.

However, that doesn’t mean that voice chatbots are the same as text chatbots. The difference lies in the user experience. And, as leading companies know, user experience is key.

There is a growing trend where users prefer to interact with technology using speech. Think Amazon Alexa, Google’s voice assistant and for Apple fans – Siri. In many situations, it’s just easier to interact with a computing platform using your voice.

After all, voice is hands-free, user-friendly and overall just a more natural way to interact with technology.

So, even though voice chatbots essentially uses the same back-end tech as ordinary text chatbots, the user experience is vastly different.

voice chatbots

Why voice chatbots are a game-changer

It’s the improved user experience that makes voice chatbots such as an appealing choice for businesses who care about their customers. It’s not hard to see why voice interaction delivers big customer service benefits:

Voice is simply more human

Automated text-based chatbots can come across as disconcertingly robotic – it’s very hard to communicate emotional cues in a text box. The best voice chatbots make a much better effort at sounding human: from emotional interjections during the conversation through to the unique personality voice can communicate.

Voice chatbots offer your company the chance to communicate a warmer, more human experience compared to text chatbots. In a world where automated experiences can leave a very impersonal aftertaste, voice chatbots allow businesses to combine the cost-saving effects of automation without sacrificing the human element of customer support.

Voice is hands-free

We live in a fast-paced society where multi-tasking is common. Why glue a customer to a keyboard during a support interaction when there’s a voice alternative? In fact, modern-day businesses will increasingly face customers that are used to hands-free interaction thanks to personal assistants like Alexa and Siri.

Furthermore, while customers will wait until they have access to a keyboard to solve a customer support issue, they might not wait if what they intended to do was place an order. Offering your customers the option to order hands-free will give your business a real advantage.

Voice is a fun experience

Your customer may simply want to get their business done when interacting with your support platform, but adding a fun factor is an aspect of voice that supports your brand in the long run. With countless boring, stale companies to deal with consumers will be instantly struck by your more personal, quirky approach.

Indeed, do voice the right way and your voice assistant can be a real ambassador to your company. Quirky and fun, or resolutely professional – it’s your choice. Either way, a voice assistant will leave a real impression.

Voice covers more channels

We all know just how important the omni-channel approach has become. In-store, phone, web, text message and social media – these all matter. However, new channels are emerging – think powerful home assistant embedded in everything from fridges to speakers, and of course the assistants present on almost every smartphone.

Your voice-enabled chatbot allows your company to reach customers over these new channels.  At the moment at least, it gives your company a competitive advantage. In future, not using a voice-enabled chatbot will mean your competitors get more comprehensive access to your customers than you do.

Voice is easy to implement

Finally, voice chatbots pivot off existing chatbot infrastructure including the logic behind it, alongside your existing enterprise data. In other words, harnessing the game-changing benefits of a voice chatbot does not imply huge costs or countless man-hours.

Any company can step up its customer experience game by adding voice functionality to chatbots – if its chatbot platform allows it, of course.

voice chatbots

Getting voice chatbots right

Understanding your customer environment and the expectations of your customers is key to getting your voice chatbot implementation right.

Next, you also need to ensure you think carefully through your voice chatbot implementation: just like ordinary chatbots, planning is a key aspect to getting voice interaction just right. Here are our top tips.

Put in place a voice chatbot strategy

We hinted earlier at how voice chatbots can provide a more personal experience, while giving customers more – and more fun – opportunities to interact with your company. Indeed, a voice chatbot can make your company a leader.

Yet, you must decide which of these aspects are most important. Is it achieving ultimate operational efficiency, streamlining as many processes as possible thanks to use of a voice chatbot? Do you want to create a more intimate relationship with your customers? Or do you want to stand out as a leader in your field? Give this some thought before jumping in.

Figure out where customer experience suffers most

Voice chatbots can be great at solving particular customer pain points – just like normal chatbots can solve many common customer service difficulties. So, first, do an analysis of the typical customer pain points – find out where the customer experience in your company really lags behind.

In doing so, look at regular processes – changing a shipping destination, modifying an order, etc – and find out which of these causes a degree of frustration for your customer. Next, rely on the fact that voice chatbots are conversational – and the way this more personal, emotive interaction can ease some of the more difficult processes.

Set your voice chatbot’s attitude and work on conversations

It’s difficult to give text chatbots a unique personality – you can try, but without the personal feel of voice text can often come across as tacky. However, a voice chatbot can have a unique personality. Your company needs to give a fair bit of thought as to what exactly this personality is – is it reactive, or proactive? More focused on functionality, or on being entertaining?

These decisions will factor into a lot of on-the-ground voice chatbot factors. Tone of voice, for example. And indeed, the conversation flow of your chatbot. In fact, one could argue that conversation flow is one of the most important factors of getting a voice chatbot just right. The aim should be conversations that are incredibly natural.

Platform choice is key to voice chatbots success

We leave our final tip for this section. Platform choice can make or break your voice chatbot. Remember: your voice chatbot relies on much of the same technology as an ordinary, text chatbot.

Yes, the voice features of your chatbot are crucial: you need a voice that sounds naturally synthesized, and a platform that uses top-end language processing to understand what your users are saying.

Yet platform choice goes so much further – getting a voice chatbot to say the right stuff at the right time depends on getting the chatbot mechanics perfectly right. We think you should look out for the following features:

  • Comprehensive compatibility: Your platform of choice should allow you to build a voice chatbot across as many channels as possible. There’s no point in getting voice just right only to be restricted by your choice of platforms – don’t settle for a platform restricted to just a few vendors.
  • Pivot off existing chatbot infrastructure. Choose a platform that allows you to link up your existing automation with a voice layer. Or, that acts as an integrated platform that can help you set up a powerful, new automated chatbot platform that stretches across channels – including voice.
  • Powerful chatbot flows. Yes, voice sounds natural to begin with, but matters will soon unravel if you’re unable to get your chatbot flow right. Solid tools are a key element – tools that make it easy to create complex chat flows that feel incredibly natural to your users, while at the same time serving to improve efficiency. Designing chatbot flows must be easy too: a visual designer is essential.
  • Capable AI. While designing intelligent chat flows is a key aspect of setting up a great voice chatbot, humans can only do so much. Why? Well, human behavior is unpredictable and your chat flow cannot take account of every possible human response. Artificial intelligence help: it allows your chatbot to understand customer intent, learning through experience.
  • Natural language processing. Of course, your voice chatbot can only respond sensibly if it understands what is being said. Humans can use complex forms of language – complex to a computer at least. Your platform of choice should have the ability to interpret this language, no matter how unique it is.
  • Integration. In this respect, voice chatbots are just like ordinary chatbots: your chatbot platform must integrate smoothly with your company systems. Even the smoothest voice assistant will be of little help if it does not have deep and comprehensive access to the customer data your company already holds.

In essence, the platform you choose for your voice chatbot must get both the voice aspect right, and the chatbot aspect – excellence in just one of the two respects is not enough.

What is the future of voice chatbots?

One can argue that voice chatbots have their roots in a growing trend towards voice search: rooted, in turn, in personal assistants like Alexa-enabled devices or smartphone services such as Siri. It’s not just a trend in search – overall, consumers are showing signs that they like to interact with their devices using voice, not text.

There are many reasons for this, whether it’s a matter of convenience (a user’s hands are not free at the time, or the physical device is not within reach) or simply a matter of preference (the user finds typing too tedious).

Voice interaction will become more commonplace

However, it’s indisputable that voice interaction is here to stay. We think that voice chatbots will become increasingly important. For now, consumers accept that there is a limited number of businesses that they can interact with using voice.

But we’ve seen this picture before: in the technology arena, it starts with a few first movers – and before you know it, consumer expectation is that every business has that capability. That’s likely going to be the case for voice interaction too.

Early movers have an advantage

There’s something else we know about technological change: early movers have an advantage. Adopt voice chatbots before your competitors and you stand to have happier customers that interact with your business across more channels – so, more opportunities to sell, and a better customer experience.

Countless companies are already adopting chatbots simply out of necessity.

Simply put, there is little reason to delay adopting a voice chatbot – simply because doing so can be part and parcel of your existing chatbot infrastructure.

And, of course, because a voice chatbot gives you a head start over your competitors.

Why Xenioo delivers a top voice chatbots experience

With Xenioo, your business can enjoy all the benefits of a voice chatbot. You can create a skill for Amazon Alexa as well as an action for Google Assistant devices.

What’s more, you can publish your voice chatbot across to a range of other platforms too, with minimal adjustment.

It’s easy to get started with Xenioo – try out Xenioo for free, check out our tutorials or read up on what’s possible with Xenioo.

Want to know more? Just get in touch.

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