In part 1 we went over the ins and outs of voice-enabled technology and its most frequent applications. In this second installment, we guide you through the process of asking the right questions to determine if voice-enabled technology is right for your business.
Voice-enabled technologies have gotten a lot of attention thanks to virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa accessed smart speakers, watches, phones and other devices. It's natural for companies to want to get a leg up by catering to users interested in these new functionalities but jumping in with both feet can also lead to costly mistakes if you're not careful.
That's why we've devised a series of questions you can ask before venturing into the world of voice-enabled technologies.
What you need to know
Technologies are always changing. If you find that a voice interface or voice technology isn't what your application needs right now, that doesn't mean this component might not be relevant later as your product evolves. There may come a time when your users could benefit from a voice-activated functionality, so it's important to stay open to the idea of making this shift. However, before you do, here are some questions that may help you decide if it's a good idea.
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Ask Yourself First
These questions will serve to give you a broader idea of what voice technologies will entail for your user, your project and your business.
Part I: Your user
The following questions are meant to determine whether your user will find a voice interface desirable and effective.
- Would your user find a hands-free option more convenient?
Does your user have specific limitations that impede leveraging a screen? Are they using their hands for other purposes, like driving?
- Does your user need or prefer to multitask?
Is your user usually busy or on the move? Do they have multiple tasks they need to perform at once? Is their attention divided between several things?
- Where does your user usually interact with your application?
Are they at home or somewhere public? Are they indoors or outdoors? Is there a lot of noise in this place?
Part II: Your application
The following questions are meant to determine whether your application's functionalities would experience a boost from a voice interface.
- Would a voice interface provide better, or faster interactions compared to other interfaces?
Are there other options that could offer a better user experience? Would a voice interface improve the interaction, or would it be the same as another interface? I.e. website, mobile app, chatbot?
- Are your interactions complex or require the construction of a layered context to achieve a successful interaction?
Does your user need to go through a series of steps to complete a task? Does the system need to consider past information and keep up with a sequence? Could a user go back to a previous step and modify it?
- To what extent has your user base adopted digital products from your ecosystem?
Do your users use mobile apps to access your system? Do they use chatbots? Do they use a website or phone platform?
You can also gauge adoption by:
High – You have multiple user touchpoints; your system collects valuable data to leverage.
Medium – Your user base is fragmented; some use your digital products, others don't.
Low – Your digital solutions aren't widespread among your users.
- Are there other applications in your digital ecosystem that a voice interface could leverage data from?
Part III: Your Business
The following questions are meant to determine whether your business would stand to benefit from a voice interface.
- Is your customer base overly protective of their personal data?
Most services collect data to improve the accuracy of their services, but some users might resent that fact depending on the application.
- Could a voice user interface allow you to generate efficiencies or scale some aspects of your operation?
Would voice technology help your business be more efficient? Could you serve a greater number of customers through a voice interface?
- Do you have the necessary UX talent or UX-savvy allies to help you develop the ideal user experience for these types of interfaces?
Does your team have the skills to design and build compelling user interactions?
- How are you thinking of measuring the ROI of these kinds of interfaces?
Sales increase? PR? Digital presence? Brand awareness? Expanded market?
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Remember that answering these honestly will yield the most accurate picture of what a voice interface would mean to your user, and whether your company will truly benefit from implementing this kind of technology. If you find that it's definitely a viable option for your business, take the necessary steps to assemble a mature UI team to develop an interface that delivers value to your user base.
If at the end of asking yourself these questions, you find a voice user interface isn't for you, there are still other options to help improve your product's user experience and functionalities.
An effective way to offer your user a customer service experience that's both innovative and efficient is through chatbots. A chatbot would follow similar principles to a voice interface, but the interaction would be on a screen. This immediately reduces any issues resulting from poor enunciation or accents. Additionally, chatbots are quick to learn from their interactions when combined with machine learning algorithms.
Perhaps your user appreciates the flexibility of accessing your applications through their phone or tablet but isn't necessarily eager to switch entirely to a hands-free solution. A beautifully-designed mobile app could help boost your user's productivity without introducing an interface change that's too drastic.
Graphical User Interfaces
Graphical user interfaces (GUI) are widely known and can be used by almost anybody. Interactions with them are highly intuitive and most people are comfortable with them. Working on making your application's interface as usable and comfortable as possible for your user can go a long way in increasing engagement and improving customer experience.The future of voice is rapidly approaching but having a solid user interface—through any channel—is what matters most in the long run. When deciding whether to implement a voice-enabled interface or venturing into voice recognition, remember to keep the question of whether these technologies will contribute to your user's everyday life in a significant way in the forefront of your mind.
Ready to get started on your own voice-enabled application? Let's talk.