How smart companies use voice and bots to get and keep more customers

Ding dong, it soon may be time to start thinking of google as near-dead in the water. The day is coming where marketers will have to redirect the time, energy, and laser focus on search engine optimization, and the millions of dollars spent on buying keywords and relevant content, to voice interfaces. Consumers are increasingly attracted to the ease and simplicity of the AI-powered voice chat bot, and in turn, they’re getting smarter, and the field is getting crowded.

According to Canalys, the number of smart speakers in use will come close to 100 million by the end of 2018 and the market will more than double again to hit 225 million units by 2020. But that’s not even counting the millions of devices consumers can download Alexa onto as both iOS and Android apps. Similarly, you can find Google Assistant on 400 million devices. And more companies are getting into the fray.

Apple’s got the HomePod, powered by Siri, Samsung’s got the Bixby AI assistant platform, soon to be augmented in the wake of the company’s acquisition of Vix, an intelligent assistant business founded by the folks who brought you Siri. Somewhere people are actually using Microsoft’s Cortana, Tencent offers Xiaowei, and in China, there are already 40 million registered users of the virtual assistants Chumenwenwen and Xiaoice.

And all these companies are focused on an urgent primary mission: to become the channel for the discerning consumer, the one who has found it easier than ever, as speakers get smarter than ever, to rely on voice chat with intelligent assistants to look for information, shop, and generally just get things done.

The Google overload, with millions of results returned for any basic search, will be a thing of the past. AI-powered assistants excel at one very important thing: learning a customer’s preferences, needs, wants, and general parameters, and returning only the relevant results. Plus, accuracy will increase over time as these learn from their owner’s search patterns and get better at delivering exactly what you want and when you want it.

It’s likely, too, that these devices aren’t going to stay tethered to users’ living rooms and bedside tables; intelligent assistants are going be in consumer pockets, launched from smartphones and relied upon in the wild.

Analysts predict that the switchover from text to talking will occur in the next decade, leaving marketers who are still clinging to their paid keywords in the dust. New strategies will be required to capture customer attention, engage them where and when they want to be found, and boost loyalty so that you stay at the top of their algorithm.

One of the keys to staying competitive is going to be creating personalized, frictionless customer experiences with seamless interfaces on intelligent platforms. The other key is starting to lay the tech and strategy foundation now, while the technology is still young, taking advantage of the opportunities intelligent voice search is already offering, and staying on top of new developments, and even more opportunities, as they start to avalanche.

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