“There is no future that doesn’t have ambient computing or voice activation. None. And as voice becomes more engrained in peoples’ mindsets and approach to life, if you are not there – as an agency, as a content provider, as a brand selling products – you’re at a huge disadvantage.” – Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, investor on ABC’s Shark Tank, and self-made entrepreneur
Across the globe, smart speakers, digital assistants and voice-enabled products are changing the way we interact with the world around us. Devices with Amazon Alexa are becoming a common sight in living rooms everywhere, and smartphones or car gadgets allow users to bring voice assistants wherever they go.
Demand is consequently on the rise. In January 2019, Amazon announced there were 100 million Alexa-enabled devices in customers‘ hands. One year later, that number had more than doubled, with hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices worldwide. And there is no reason to expect that this trend is slowing down any time soon.
There are now tens of millions of customers that use Alexa each month.
There are now hundreds of millions of Alexa devices out there with customers – not including phones with the Alexa, Amazon Shopping, and Amazon Music apps.
Engagement with Alexa has nearly quadrupled from 2018 to 2020. Customers interact with Alexa billions of times each week.
We first learn to communicate with our fellow human beings through voice, and it remains the most natural and common way of communicating throughout our lives. A voice assistant on a device mirrors this familiar pattern, making it easily accessible to people with different degrees of technological knowledge.
For many use cases, voice is simply a more convenient, fast, and fun way to accomplish a task. Whether it is searching for information, ordering something online, or starting the navigation system in a car: voice technology will do it in a matter of seconds, without distracting the user or requiring his or her physical input.
As voice is becoming more engrained in peoples’ everyday lives, brands also find new opportunities to communicate their content and address potential, as well as existing customers. For example, transactional services like In-Skill Purchasing and Amazon Pay enable brands to offer digital and real-world goods and services for customers to purchase through their Alexa skills or enable customers to donate to a charity using their voice.
It is no surprise that businesses from many different industries are integrating voice technology into their own products and services. Hotels allow guests to control amenities like thermostats or lights through voice. Device makers incorporate voice capabilities directly into their product or offer connectivity with existing voice assistants like Amazon Alexa. And consumer packaged goods companies are designing delightful experiences and paths to purchase their products. Other brands are motivated to do something with voice but are not sure how or where to begin their voice journey.
A first step is to identify meaningful interactions along your customer journey where voice can help improve the customer experience either through adding a form of delight, functionality or utility. Once this is done, you can develop mechanisms for a coherent voice strategy and look for ways to incorporate voice into existing products or communication strategies.
Formulating such a comprehensive voice strategy is a multi-step process, but well worth the effort. Brands that take the time to think holistically about voice not only produce better customer outcomes but also streamline development and control cost. However, there are many things to consider.
As a first step, businesses need to think thoroughly about what goals they are planning to achieve through voice implementation, how voice is going to benefit the customer or improve his or her experience, and what degree of voice implementation will make the most sense for their product or service.
One of the first questions to ask is this: What are your business objectives and how is voice going to facilitate them?
While potential answers are endless, they can generally be grouped into one of three categories:
The intuitive and easy use of voice is a great opportunity to make existing customers engage with your brand. Figuring out where voice can fit into your customers’ journey can add delight, efficiency or even entirely new functionalities to their brand experience. This will not only result in a stronger bond and help with customer retention, but also give brands a better understanding of their customers’ attitude towards, or satisfaction with, the brand.
The entertainment industry was among the first to recognize the potential of voice technology for engaging customers. Fans generally have a strong desire to step into the world of their favorite TV show or video game – and voice technology offers a chance to do just that. Whether it is talking to your favorite characters or becoming a part of the story through interactive voice games, the use of voice technology allows customers to engage with your brand in a new and uniquely engaging way.
Voice functionality might give brands access to new customers or target groups and can provide an opportunity to engage with new target audiences. The inclusiveness of voice also offers new opportunities for digital brands who don't have offline facilities. Making their products and services easier accessible via voice through smart devices can open new customer segments.
The inclusiveness of voice across almost the entire age range offers many opportunities for online-only brands. Having no physical locations or brick-and-mortar stores can make it a struggle for these companies to reach certain audiences. Making their products and services accessible through smart speakers or voice assistants allows more customers access to those products and services.
If used appropriately, integrating voice functionalities into your product or service can give added value to customers. If adding voice to a product or service makes sense for customers, for example by easing the use of the product, they might see it as an added value to the entire product.
A vacuuming robot that can be controlled via voice commands, a light switch that connects to an Alexa device, or a fridge that enables you to add items to your shopping list – the smart home industry offers countless opportunities for brands to develop exciting new voice-forward devices and products. But the possibilities don’t end there. Why not make it fun and exciting to order your merchandise through an interactive voice interface? Or how about offering exceptional customer service through your customers’ smart speaker? It is time to get creative!
You have decided that voice would be an exciting thing to try for your company? You have acquired some knowledge about the potential of voice technology and set your goals?
Now it is time to think more about how and where voice could be implemented. One of the most important factors is to find out where voice integration would be most convenient or useful for your customer. Before getting started, you might want to consider analyzing the intended audience and their needs.
Not all the pain points and needs identified in this analysis will be best solved through voice integration. Critically question what approach will add the most value for your users or customers.
Voice technology comes in many forms, with varying levels of integration. In order not to get lost, it can make sense to bring in an expert to help formulate your voice strategy. Services like Alexa Voice Services (AVS) and Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) are specifically set up to help companies who want to implement voice technology into their products. Furthermore, businesses can work with Alexa Solution Providers who help companies to develop their voice strategy and integrate Alexa into their products.
Our global network of Alexa Solution Providers work together to impart comprehensive strategy and development support for Alexa devices and skills. You can access a range of services including planning, voice design and creative, pretested reference architectures and hardware, hardware and software development, manufacturing, testing, and go-to-market support ideally tailored to your goals and business drivers. In the following, we have summarized the different ways of integrating Amazon Alexa. Depending on your brand, it might make sense to go with one or more of these approaches – why not pair Alexa skills with connected or built-in devices to streamline the voice experience?
Skills are like apps for Alexa, and provide a new channel for your content and services. Customers use Alexa billions of times each week through hundreds of millions of Alexa devices, in their living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, cars, and more. Make it easy for customers to access your content and services using their voices; build experiences that let customers interact with your games, characters, and other brand assets in new ways; generate additional revenue by selling your company‘s goods and services or premium content using transaction features.
You can build smart home and other products that customers can control from millions of Alexa devices with just their voice. Expand your device’s capabilities with Alexa to create delightful experiences for lights, switches, thermostats, cameras, locks, and more. Plus, your Alexa-connected devices continue to become smarter with Alexa’s growing list of smart home capabilities and features that leverage Alexa’s cloud intelligence, making it easier for you to deliver rich, delightful customer experiences for all your devices.
The world‘s leading OEMs offer Alexa Built-in devices that let customers talk directly with Alexa through a microphone and speaker. Alexa turns your device into a smart device, and expands its capabilities. Customers can ask Alexa for help with everyday tasks and entertainment, and control Alexa connected devices or their own device.
Are you ready to get started with voice? Visit our website with a summary of key questions to ask yourself or your team when thinking about your voice strategy.
Our global network of Alexa Solution Providers work together to help you develop high-quality experiences, accelerate your development, and reduce your overall development cost. The earlier you engage a Solution Provider, the better they can assist you.
Visit the Alexa Agency Curriculum, a set of resources designed specifically for agencies, brands working with agencies, studios, and independent developers who work with brands. The curriculum will walk you through key steps in building a successful Alexa voice strategy and provide guidance for building delightful and engaging voice experiences as you incorporate voice into your go-to-market strategies.