Never in modern history has it been more important to focus on building authentic, meaningful brands and relationships than today. With a world-stalling pandemic and many metropolitan areas on full lockdown, being able to connect with consumers at home in a real, deep, and meaningful way is vital if your brand is going to survive and even thrive during these turbulent times.
Today, Voice Assistants are everywhere you look. Consumers have access to Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant in virtually every smart phone worldwide. Meanwhile, access to Alexa and Google Assistant has proliferated to almost every consumer device possible. From smart speakers to TVs, stoves to toilets, headphones to shower heads - the convenience and accessibility of voice has fully saturated modern society and is the future of how we will interact with our digital and electronic utilities for the next 10 to 20 years. They are here now and you need to leverage them.
Voice Assistants provide brands the opportunity to create more meaningful experiences for their consumers and fans - at scale.
Voice experiences, as Alexa Skills for Amazon Alexa, Actions for Google Assistant, or Capsules for Samsung Bixby, are an easy, personal way to connect with consumers via Voice Assistants. The kinds of voice experiences you create may depend on the nature of the products or services you produce. Voice experiences, properly executed, have the potential to deliver great value to consumers at a time when they need it most. Below are five strategies for voice experiences you can leverage via Voice Assistants to increase brand awareness, increase engagement, and drive deeper consumer relationships during the pandemic and beyond.
The Knowledge Butler
If you are in an industry that produces a ton of complex and obscure information, Insurance, Real Estate, Taxes, etc., the Knowledge Butler is an ideal strategy to leverage for engaging with your current and prospective clients. The Knowledge Butler strategy is simply creating a voice experience where users can learn more about the industry or niche you serve.
Take a Tax Guide, for example. If you are a tax accountant or providing tax-related services, a personally branded voice experience - delivered in YOUR voice - that provides answers to common questions and concerns consumers may have works very well. Users can ask what documents they need, what tax credits they may qualify for, or they may ask questions related to income brackets. It’s a simple experience that any tax professional can script and quickly provide for their client base.
As an additional step, something you’ll find in the Insurance Concierge example, you can use this experience to drive a user action - scheduling time with you or requesting more information about a particular topic. This opens the door for your to engage customers driving them further down the customer journey to your services or product.
The Knowledge Butler strategy can be applied to nearly any industry - restaurants can provide recipes and cooking tips or a maker of surfboards can provide updates on surfing conditions or tips on catching that perfect wave.
The best part of the Knowledge Butler strategy is, if you have been keeping your website up to date and deploying proper content marketing strategies to deliver value to your niche, you already have the content available. Don’t reinvent the wheel. With the content on hand, you can create and launch this strategy in minutes with True Reply.
A website that highlights the value your product or service creates for prospects and customers is the only way a business can thrive in the modern world. The convenience of visiting a website drastically reduced the need to call business or visit brick and mortar establishments. The same ideology that makes you say “duh!” to this little bit of info should immediately make you understand and appreciate the Virtual Hero strategy.
Empowering customer to say “Alexa, ask Plumber Joe about what services he offers” or “Ok Google, ask Sickday Medical if they can test me for Covid” is the next level in convenience. You put information about you and your services or products right at the tip of your customers tongue. They just need to ask for it - and they get it. Its’ magical. But Voice Assistants for your brand cannot just be about convenience. Focus only on the convenience part of the experience and you are missing the biggest opportunity of all.
Whether engaging via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, answering a customers question in YOUR voice, in a human, personal voice that aligns with your business, is an incredible opportunity to build brand recognition and develop the relationship between your customers and you at scale. This is what makes the Virtual Hero strategy such a great option for businesses.
By providing information about your services or products via an Amazon Alexa Skill, Action on Google Assistant, or both, in the voice of your brand, you’re turning these Virtual Assistants into your private army of virtual heroes. Every time a consumer asks about your business and hears your voice answering back, the relationship, no matter how nascent, is reinforced and their impression of you and your company as real and authentic is reinforced along with it. True Reply powers several Virtual Heroes for companies and it can help you launch yours in minutes.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Choose Your Own Adventure books were created by Edward Packard in the early 1970s and, you could say, are the original “video game.” Painting a picture of a whole new world, engaging reader imaginations, and taking them on adventures of their own choosing long before they could do the same using a game system connected to their TVs. Applying the Choose Your Own Adventure methodologies to Voice Assistants can give your customers and fans a fun and engaging way to interact with your brand.
The key to delivering an effective Choose Your Own Adventure for your brand, regardless of your industry, is about narrative and variable branching. Start with imagine you are guiding a customer through a hallway with many doors. Behind each door there’s an experience, potentially one that leads to another hallway with more doors. A user can make a choice which doors she wants to explore, what direction she wants to go, and, along the way, what experiences she wants to have.
A great “imagine if” example is that of a recruiting services who wants to leverage a voice application to build their brand. Developing a virtual job interview experience that allows users to choose each step in the adventure can help to teach users how to properly take interviews, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to land that job. To really make it effective combine real, personable voices with a full spectrum of choice and consequence for a greater level of immersion. For example, “You walk through the front door, do you approach the receptionist or take a seat and wait?” What happens if he takes a seat and waits? What happens next? The gap between expectation and the unknown is where the fun happens. Peppering minor choices around major decisions helps pull the user into this “virtual world” you create and gain more value out of your experience.
Through this type of experience, you are creating and nurturing a relationship with users that breaths life into even the most mundane of industries. “The Mad Adventures Of Dentist Dave?” With a Real-Time Analysis and Validation Engine that supports dynamic branching, True Reply helps you build out and iterate over these types of experiences easily and with zero engineering.
Interactive Audio Programming
Podcast consumption has experienced a renaissance in the past 5 years and the future is bright for the medium. But what if audience members could consume AND engage - at the same time. This is the idea behind the Interactive Audio Programming strategy. Empowering your audience to engage with, and maybe even influence, your audio content creates a special and unique experience.
Imagine you are close to publishing your book and you’d like to leverage audio programming, i.e. a podcast, to help promote and drive awareness for your new book. Let’s get some people to love what your book is about and drive those initial sales to help get you on that top 10 list. You could produce a podcast which you select chapters in your book and talk about that. Maybe you even invite a guest now and again to drive some back and forth conversation showing everyone why this book is going to be so amazing. What if, in addition to or instead, we use an Amazon Alexa Skill or an Action for the Google Assistant to invite the user to engage.
The user launches your voice experience and they are greeted by YOU and given the option to hear about a particular chapter or about a particular topic - why limit them, right? Then your voice comes on and you share some thoughts - maybe its authoritative information, the meat of your content, or maybe its YOUR experience writing this particular chapter; how you felt, what you thought of - why you wrote it. Maybe it’s both. Then, after you share, you ask them what THEY think about what you shared or, if you got personal, ask them to share their story. Then you ask them to engage with another chapter or topic. This experience can progress and grow over time or you can produce a full, multi-chapter experience, all at once and launch that. The choice is yours.
The key to this strategy is the combination of your brands voice and the user engagement. Those two things together will leave your users with a deep and meaningful sense that they know you and that they’ve connected with you. The Interactive Audio Programming strategy can be applied to most industries with the proper narrative and framework. Supporting both audio and video media, True Reply helps you create multi-modal experiences that truly connect you with your customers and audience at scale.
The Product & Services Assistant
The Product and Service Assistant strategy, PaS, helps build upon services and products you’ve already provided or sold. Leveraging Voice Assistants to provide follow-on support in a personal, authentic voice helps amplify your brand relationship and grow your consumer relationship beyond the sale. Your PaS Assistant can become your first line of support and value-add to your customers.
Create an Amazon Alexa Skill, Action on Google Assistant, or both, that allows users to “ask” your brand anything about the service or product they have received or continue to receive. The PaS Assistant strategy consists of 4 core features but you can always expand/grow from there. We see these four as essential to the overall PaS strategy.
First, allow customers to ask questions about your product or service. What we’re basically doing here is taking our FAQs and what we know about our customers and our services or products to allow users to use their voice to get the answers to the questions they have. The beauty is that those answers they get will come to them in an authentic, real voice - yours or your brands. This makes all the difference and really drives a personal connection.
The second core feature - update requests. The context of this feature has to do with the nature of your service or business but the point here is to give users an entry point to staying in the loop. If you’re delivering an ongoing service - or you haven’t completed the service yet - let them request an update on your progress. If it’s a product they’ve purchased, updates related to product features or an upcoming version may be more appropriate.
Next is allowing users to set up a follow-up or reminder. This one is related to the updates feature above and allows users to set up a follow-up check-in from within your experience. This would trigger their Virtual Assistant to remind them to request another update. This feature can be super powerful to encourage ongoing usage of your voice experience. The more they use your voice experience, the more they hear YOU and the deeper that connection goes.
Finally, allow users to schedule an appointment or meeting ala IRL. Give them the ability to schedule a 1-on-1 with you or an account manager easily via the voice experience and integrate that function with your CRM or scheduling platform. This gives users an added level of convenience and comfort that, if the voice experience isn’t taking care of them, they can quickly “spin up a real person!” We have also done this feature as more of a “Call me now” or “Connect me now” feature instead of an appointment setting flow. Either works well and you can always do both. With True Reply, you can leverage workflow automation via Zapier to do all sorts of cool things to empower Support or Sales via voice.
Hopefully, you find these strategies helpful and they help spark some cool ideas for how Voice Assistants can help your company build consumer relationships. The constant across all this strategies is a personal, real voice that represents you and your company and have that voice be the same, pleasant experience whether consumers are engaging via an Amazon Alexa Skill, an Action on Google Assistant, a Capsule on Samsung Bixby, or an automated telephone experience leveraging a Telephone Voice app.