Why You Should Hire a Dedicated Voice Consultancy

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Some estimates indicate that, by the end of 2022, voice commerce will have expanded to become a $40 billion industry, and 55 percent of American homes will feature at least one smart speaker. Consumers are already integrating these devices into their everyday lives, with 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers indicating that their devices are used as part of their daily routines.

As the proliferation and adoption of these voice devices (and, increasingly, a plethora of voice-activated devices that run the gamut of household appliances) expands, so does the opportunity for brands to engage with their customers and learn more about their needs.

Though Magic + Co. envisions a world in which voice technology will transcend the smart home to seamlessly integrate with — and enhance — users’ commutes, work lives and daily tasks, voice technology has yet to reach its full potential. But brands that begin viewing their voice strategies as a long-term, strategic play will be well-positioned to benefit from the first-mover advantage.

We’ve seen traditional advertising agencies quickly assemble voice teams to capitalize on this growing adoption and, to their credit, they’ve certainly been busy. However, many of these branded voice experiences have focused on distributing content and generating buzz in the short-term —  by which metric they’ve undoubtedly succeeded — but are, dare we say it, borderline gimmicky. Moreover, their effects are short-lived and the impacts on bottom line are often questionable.

When Brands Ghost Their Customers

Imagine the scenario: you have a neighborhood bar that, though it’s perhaps not the most inexpensive or upscale option in your locale, offers service that’s second to none. As the bartender sees you walk in the door, they begin preparing your drink— tailored to your exact preferences. They ask you questions about your day, remembering the little details. You never have to ask for a refill. The music that’s playing is catered to your tastes. They make you feel special. You start to consider the staff as genuine friends. And then, all of a sudden, they vanish without a trace.  You shoot them a text to ask what happened, and follow up, but to no avail. You’ve been ghosted, and you’re forced to look for your next favorite watering hole.

That’s how we view a large percentage of voice content that’s currently being disseminated to consumers through voice platforms. Brands will earmark a budget to implement voice capabilities that complement a specific marketing campaign...and then it’s all over. The retainer is spent and the campaign comes to a screeching halt; the voice capability has no further utility or functionality. The consumer quickly forgets it exists,  and then they’re onto the next shiny distraction — potentially, one offered by a competitor.

We see that as a tremendous missed opportunity to engender brand loyalty and deliver excellent service.

Agencies should stop thinking about content as the answer and begin thinking of the voice-first proposition as a long-term, sustained effort that — much like a friendship or successful professional relationship — builds trust and expands in scope over time.  The campaign mindset must be usurped by a focus on product development, wherein voicebots are considered an opportunity to engender brand loyalty: first, by delighting customers with timely, relevant information and helpful content. Over time, voicebots will continually augment user feedback to become more attuned to the needs of the individual customer, and identify new ways to improve their experience.

Critically, there also needs to be a monetization aspect. Amazon’s Paul Cutsinger, head of Alexa voice design education, spoke to this issue in a recent Voicebot podcast episode, explaining how users’ perception of skills can rapidly sour if developers don’t invest in continual updates and the provision of purchasing capabilities. In doing so, brands can give users a reason to keep using their skill and, of course, create a source of revenue.

In short, brands need to start thinking about voice as a fundamental part of their service offering, using voicebots and assistants to deliver constant value and keep customers in the marketing funnel once they’ve garnered their attention. Otherwise, they’re just repurposing content via a different medium and — though it may generate some pleasing vanity metrics— does it cause the customer to take action? Does it enhance the company’s bottom line?

At Magic + Co., we live and breathe voice-first.  You’ll rarely see one of our employees gazing at a phone screen -- we all have wearable devices, and predominantly conduct our office calls via Alexa. We practice what we preach and, each and every day, we think carefully about the various ways in which voice technology can enrich our lives. This immersive mindset finds us asking questions such as: What do we want to know about the brands we interact with in our daily lives? What would we want from a response? What would be valuable to us as consumers? What would deter us from engaging with a brand? In thinking about our own daily needs and interactions, we are able to build voice products that capture the consumer and provide sustained value.

We believe that dedicated voice-centric agencies are well positioned to help brands establish a strong voice presence that enables them to become a useful -- even indispensable -- utility in people’s daily lives. We look forward to facilitating a future in which brands are able to have meaningful conversations, and learn from these interactions to develop lasting, enriching relationships. Because, let’s face it, no one likes being ghosted.