Is voice the future of customer engagement?

Voice – The Future of Customer Engagement


Voice-activated assistants have surged in popularity over the last few years. Alexa and Google’s Voice Assistant are two examples of ‘smart speakers’ which became common in the domestic market. In fact, by the end of 2018, there were over 9.5 million active users of smart speakers in the UK alone.

As voice-activated services entered homes worldwide, companies began to see their potential. Artificial intelligence has helped businesses across all sectors deliver quality customer experiences - chatbots are a prominent example, streamlining operations whilst also saving money. They can be programmed to carry out routine tasks and help customers with basic queries. These tasks are important and must still be subject to high quality standards; however, outsourcing this kind of work to a chatbot allows staff to focus on more complex tasks. Therefore a company’s productivity will increase whilst saving staff-related costs. Bots can also deliver a compelling return on investment if programmed to operate 24/7, which will help meet demands for customer service outside of business hours.

Chatbots are continuing to reach new heights of innovation. This is possible thanks to ‘deep learning', the process of bots learning by experience. The more customer queries a bot handles, the more advanced their capabilities become, therefore, the potential for AI to improve customer engagement stands to grow further.

Call centres, in particular, could benefit significantly from voice-activated services. Two prominent concerns are data collection and waiting times. Automation serves to expedite these kinds of processes, without sacrificing service quality. In fact, a report created by Customer Contact Week Digital states 37% of businesses wish to automate customer service. Call centres also often experience high staff turnover – an issue that can certainly be rectified with voice-activated bots. Bots can take on a high volume of calls, as well as helping to reach sales targets. A reduction in call waiting times can also lead to less irate customers, who can often take their frustrations out on staff. All of these factors help to reduce stress for call centre workers, and this is vital for an industry in which 60% of turnover is due to customer support agents quitting. You can learn more about customer interaction with bots in one of our previous articles.

That being said, many people still value service with a ‘human’ element. A recent survey found that 43% still prefer interacting with a human rather than a robot. This is where voice bots really have the upper hand. They are able to simulate the ‘human’ experience whilst carrying out tasks swiftly and precisely. According to studies carried out by Google UK in 2018, 89% of consumers believe voice search helps people find things quicker and 83% agreed that voice makes it easier to search for things. Voicebots are an avenue worth pursuing for many organisations. That isn’t to say, however, that they are not without their teething problems.


The challenges of voice-activated service


Accents and dialects

Bots may master the ability to analyse written data, but spoken data has a new multitude of factors. Accents, dialect, and slang complicate a bot’s ability to communicate and interpret instructions. This is covered in greater detail in our article ‘Should AI chatbots employ dialect?


Understanding emotions

Empathy is key to good service. When someone contacts customer service, they want their concerns to be valued and understood. A voice bot is likely to provide the right information. However, they may struggle to comprehend emotions, leaving customers feeling frustrated and unappreciated. It should also be considered that our emotions can affect the pitch and tone of our voices. If a customer is feeling stressed, changes in intonation could confuse a bot even further.



HMRC is one of several high-profile institutions using ‘voice biometrics’ for security clearance. In fact, as of last year, 6.7 million people were registered to its voice identification service. Everyone’s voice is different, so at first glance, this strategy seems foolproof. However, the technology exists for fraudsters to turn an excerpt of someone’s voice into a full-scale replica. They will scour the internet for excerpts such as a Facebook video or an audio message. Therefore, if voice bots are to be the norm, providers must address concerns about security.

AI specialists are working tirelessly to resolve these kinds of issues. Every problem that is fixed helps voice-bots become better at helping organisations. We Build Bots can help your company unlock its potential and accelerate your customer service whether that be through messenger, email, social or smart speakers. If you want to deliver superior customer experience whilst saving money, contact us today.