Web Development 6 min read
How Voice Assistants on Websites Offer Business Advantage
- 25 Nov 2022 7 min read
According to the latest statistics, over 120 million adults in the United States use voice assistants at least once a month this year. In the Philippines, voice activation technology in households has taken off among millennials and upscale households.
Forecast shows that the virtual voice assistant industry will grow by $4.12 billion from 2021 to 2025. This rapid development will be fueled by the increasing demand for advanced customer service and smartphones with digital voice assistants supporting human interactions.
It’s against this promising backdrop that businesses are incorporating voice assistants into their digital efforts, aiming to maintain a competitive edge. If you’re planning to use voice assistant technology in your business, including in your web development and search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives, this guide should help you prepare.
What are voice assistants and how do they work?
Voice assistants are intelligent software that perform specific tasks based on voice commands. They run on various internet-enabled devices, including desktops, smartphones, and speakers.
How voice assistants work is simple: when a user says a voice command recorded by the device’s microphone, the message is analyzed and compared with an online database using an algorithm. The voice assistant says the answer it finds from the database or performs the task requested.
There are many situations where people use voice assistants, from simple everyday activities like asking directions to the nearest gas station and getting weather forecasts to more complex tasks, such as printing documents and ordering food from a restaurant. The range of what voice assistants can do offers convenience to users.
The question of who is the best voice assistant in the market will depend on different metrics, but the most popular picks for their capabilities and features are Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. These virtual assistants provide informative answers to general knowledge questions, perform and complete tasks, and facilitate home automation.
While voice assistants are widely used for personal use, they also have various business applications, including in web design and app development. In a nutshell, developers add voice commands to websites or use voice assistants built into browsers to help users navigate platforms easier. The specific applications of these technologies are outlined in the next section.
What are the advantages of voice assistants for businesses?
From improving communications to enhancing customer experience, voice assistants offer plenty of advantages for businesses. Here’s an in-depth discussion of the benefits of using voice assistants in digital assets, like websites and apps:
1. 24/7 customer service
Voice assistants facilitate a more efficient customer service, as they are always available to respond to queries, process payments, and track and give updates on orders. Regardless of the time or season, you’ll have “representatives,” accommodating customer inquiries. They don’t take breaks or get tired talking to clients. In the long run, this 24/7 customer service improves brand reputation and customer loyalty.
2. Contextual customer engagement
Beyond the 24/7 support, voice assistants’ excellent customer service comes from the fact that these tools have a perfect understanding of users’ needs. Before answering questions to queries, they use previous data and searches and pull up customer information through machine learning to serve accurate results. As web visitors get the answers they expect, the business is able to exceed customer satisfaction.
3. Improved product discovery
Ecommerce especially benefits from voice assistants because they make product search easier. The technology removes the hassle of looking through several product pages in online stores because users can simply say the product name and related terms to find the item they’re looking for. It eliminates even the need to type keywords, saving people precious time.
A good example of voice assistants in ecommerce is the Walmart Voice Order, which allows customers to add items to their virtual grocery cart by simply saying the words. The retail giant partnered with Apple to enable voice commands on the app via Siri.
With the virtual voice assistant analyzing purchase history of users, customers are assured that the items they regularly order are the ones added to their cart when using voice commands. Overall, this makes for a better conversational customer experience.
4. Easier lead capture process
One reason most people don’t finish filling out contact forms on websites is because there’s too much information needed, and therefore takes a long time to complete. With voice assistants though, you can help users have a less overwhelming process of finishing forms.
By saying voice commands, like “Write X,” potential customers won’t have to type their answers in the fields. They don’t even have to lift a finger once they’re done, as they can simply say, “Submit Form.” With voice assistants, you can reduce friction in the sales journey, which is an important principle in customer experience strategy.
5. Increased web traffic or app usage
Voice assistants boost web traffic and app usage because they make tasks easier for customers. In the case of fintech platforms equipped with these technologies, people are able to check account balances, see transaction histories, and make payments with only a couple of voice commands.
Fintech company Paypal uses Siri to facilitate voice-enabled transactions. Users are able to send money and ask for payment by saying, “Send [amount of money] to [contact name] via PayPal” or “Request [amount of money] from [contact name] via PayPal.” The app automatically shows a dialog box that confirms the amount and recipient of the transaction.
6. Enhanced customer trust
Although programmed, voice assistants have distinct characters. They feature specific tones, accents, intonations, and rate and rhythm of speech, which help express emotions that ultimately build trust among customers. They’re also equipped with different languages. This means your customers can talk to them in their native tongue, making the entire experience more personalized.
Compared to chatbots, voice assistants have a more interesting and engaging personality that draws people in. As these technologies prove that they are capable of performing tasks from commands, users are more likely to trust them and by extension, your business.
7. Increased accessibility
Businesses that use voice assistants in their digital assets promote inclusivity, helping people with disabilities access their products and services. Those that have motor impairments can fill out forms, send money, and place grocery orders on websites with the help of voice assistants. This empowers customers and forges an affinity for the brand.
Similarly, increased accessibility through voice assistants expands reach. You could be catering to thousands or millions of underserved markets.
How to incorporate voice assistants in websites
Given the benefits mentioned, as well as the rising trends of voice searches and voice shopping, it’s a must for businesses to adopt voice assistants in their online assets, especially their websites. One way you can include this capability in your platform is to implement the web speech API, a set of programming codes that enable two important functionalities for voice assistance: speech recognition and speech synthesis.
Speech recognition involves receiving speech through a device’s microphone, which will be processed and analyzed by the software. Speech synthesis, on the other hand, entails converting text into artificial speech, which will be heard out of a device’s speaker or audio output connection. By adding codes to your web design, you’ll enable the platform to listen and speak to users.
When building voice assistants, take note of the best design practices. As with any other element in your website, the voice assistant should be user-friendly. Follow these good strategies:
1. Align the voice personality to your brand personality
Your voice assistant serves as your company representative online. Thus, it follows that it should reflect your brand personality. If you have a positive, calm persona, choose a gentle, soothing voice for your digital assistant. If your website sells high-end products, it should have a sophisticated, eloquent character, too.
This principle is not just for the sake of maintaining cohesion among brand elements. Ultimately, it’s for an improved conversational experience. You want website visitors to feel like they’re talking to a human with a distinct personality and character, not a robot.
2. Test the voice assistant for a range of speech nuances
Different users will have different ways of saying things. While some would say, “Submit form,” others would say, “Send form.” Your voice assistant should understand both. The key is to implement regular tests. By testing, the bot will be able to learn nuances and create different options for different commands at any given scenario.
3. Confirm after task completion
This is especially applicable on voice commands relating to ecommerce, for example, when an order is placed or when the funds are deducted from users’ digital wallet. The voice assistant should always confirm these actions, so that the web visitor is not left wondering whether or not the bot processed the request properly. This improves users’ trust in the system and spurs repeat transactions.
4. Create an error response
Although virtual voice assistants have come a long way in terms of understanding human language, it’s not foolproof. This is why it’s important to have a ready error response when miscommunication happens. The response should give users options for what to do next.
For example, the voice assistant can ask the web user to search with different keywords if there’s an error in product search. A sample script can be: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you. Can you try searching with different related keywords?” This kind of error response builds a better conversational search experience, which encourages users to stay on the site.
5. Don’t forget to include the human touch
Remember, your goal when designing a voice assistant is to make them as human-like as possible, where it can build trust and rapport with website visitors. If possible, incorporate humor into your dialog flow. Add funny choices to select questions, as long as it will not hinder efficient customer service or product search. To know whether or not the humor is effective, the voice assistant can ask for feedback after a conversation.
Voice assistants offer a range of benefits for businesses, from enhanced communications to better customer service and inclusive reach. Consider adding this to your web design and SEO efforts. As you plan your project, here are some steps to take:
- Know your audience. In particular, learn what they typically do on your site. This way, you can plan which tasks your voice assistants should perform.
- Partner with a reliable design agency. An agency specializing in equipping websites with voice assistants can make the web design process more efficient for you. They’ll run multiple tests to make sure that you have a user-friendly bot.
- Be updated with the latest trends. Note that voice technology is fast changing, influencing the search behaviors of customers. Keep up with the latest trends so you can ensure that your voice assistant caters to the needs of your target audience.