Alexa, are voice assistants going anywhere?

Not likely. According to a recent Canalys report, smart speakers, each powered by its own digital voice assistant (DVA), are the fastest growing consumer technology by a considerable margin. This trend has caught the attention of other companies. Samsung, for one, plans to join Google Home and Amazon Echo by releasing its own smart speaker in 2018.

The rapid growth of voice-assisted technology is changing the way people seek and consume information, too. According to Accenture, for example, over 60% of people who own and use voice assistants actually use their smartphones less. When it comes to customer support and help content, the implications of these trends are quite significant.

Another Way to Search for Product Help

Part of what makes voice-activated devices so popular is how easy this technology makes it to access  information. Think about how many voice-assisted interactions begin:

Alexa, how do I … ?

It’s very similar to the way traditional online self-service experiences begin. And given its convenience and ease of use, many people use voice assistants to find authoritative answers to their product support questions.

So, how do we make sure DVAs surface our help content when users ask these kinds of questions? It’s something akin to having the Google Snippet for a given search query, with one caveat: 70% of requests to the Google Assistant are expressed in natural language, and most voice assistants only serve up one answer to a given question.

This presents a bit of a challenge.

Still, the fundamentals of content optimization remain the same. It starts with transforming help content into the kind of digestible, bite-sized pieces that both voice assistants and traditional search engines favor—microcontent, as it’s now referred to. This might mean breaking down long, locked-away .pdf documents into smaller knowledge base articles; or moving useful troubleshooting information out of forums and in to a scalable knowledge management system.

Once you open up your content and optimize it for search, that content will have a better chance of being surfaced by voice assistants.

A Significant Self-service Opportunity

Consider this: 48% of people who own a voice-activated speaker would like to receive “personalized tips and information” to make their lives easier. Let’s give them what they want! This is a real opportunity for companies to surface branded, search-optimized help content to people who use voice assistants to find answers to product support questions. You won’t just be delivering content where your customers demand it—these kinds of personalized self-service experiences have the potential to lower customer effort and even prevent support cases from happening in the first place.

Of course, there are many inferences one could make based on the rise of voice assistants and the smart speakers they power. Regardless, voice-activated technology isn’t going anywhere. Question is: have you optimized your help content to meet the rising demand for voice-activated content? Remember, 75% of consumers will move to another channel when online self-service fails. What do you think will happen when they ask their voice assistant a question about your product and don’t find what they need?

Alexa…?

Additional categories: Industry Trends