Articles/Global Voice Adoption

Global Voice Adoption

Global voice adoption needs human-centred, platform-agnostic design

Without a doubt, there is a demand for ‘voice’ - whatever country of the world you’re in, whatever language you’re speaking, we’re all talking with our devices. Google's voice search demographic statistics show that 27% of the global population with access to the internet use voice searches.

Today’s frontrunners in the Conversational AI realm (Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana) provide users with simple features to check the weather, calculate your commute or set the all important birthday reminders. In 2020, 40% of Fortune 500 companies utilise voice channels, enhancing the native functionality to offer custom actions, skills and automated service.

But voice is far from perfect, remember in 2017 when we were all hyped up on innovation saying it’d be like the new app? Children, the elderly, using voice regularly to facilitate intuitive tasks... Well it’s a long way from that today, we’re a global agency, and our US Alexa can’t understand our Scottish coworkers.

At VERSA we believe in the power of conversation and as voice evangelists our goal is to uplift service design and customer experience through voice…

Here are the steps we believe platforms and consumers need to take to reach a voice-first world.

Step 1 - Cross Platform Consistency

"The first step might take a bit of collaboration, as a Conversational AI (CAI) agency we see opportunities to create more consistencies across the leading platforms. Not just in functionality, but in nomenclature and the way the AI model underneath the platforms understands the customer."

We all use voice devices, but based on your region, language or currency, different platforms will suit different audiences. With leading providers owning certain regions it can be hard to imagine voice as a unified channel.

Google Assistant is predominantly used in AU, Alexa owns the US, products like Tmall Genie, owned by Alibaba or Xiaomi are popular in Asia, but now with Apple’s new voice range we may see a global front runner.

Step 2 - Reduce Friction

Speaking is intuitive, we talk every day — speaking to voice devices, isn’t quite as intuitive. Each device is different, it’s a constant struggle to keep up with new features, skills, actions and AI-based assistants being released. We, as users, need clearer education through better conversational design.

“Starting with the way the user wants to interact and bridging the chasm from that, that's why at VERSA we begin with a human-centred conversation design approach”

Russ makes a good point, it’s weird! The way voice has been designed is a digital designers paradox: instead of training users to work with / accommodate CAI we must develop CAI to accommodate (and work for) the needs of the users.

Step 3 - Shareability of content

One of the next steps we’re looking to see adopted by voice platforms is shareability. While voice is fantastic in the moment, helping you easily answer questions or complete tasks, it can be hard to share content with others after the fact. This is due to the limitations of channel and the medium.

How do you share conversations? With notifications being an enabled function we can prompt users via voice, but users are yet unable to send and share their own content through a smart speaker.

It’s about designing for this future need. Social Media began in 2002, in 2006 we saw the first widget to share content on social media. In 2020, reports show that almost 300 million new social media users are created each year — 550 new social media users every minute!

As voice becomes more socially interactive and shareable, new users will be looking to utilize the platform to connect with friends rather than brands.

Step 4 - Multimodal, making voice visual

Multimodal is so important to getting ‘voice’ past the hump of where it is today; we know that video content is 3x more engaging that written or spoken, and the need to touch or use our voice devices is being iteratively designed.

We’ve seen multimodal functionality via screen enabled devices, but what we’re more excited about is the cross-platform multimodal functionality. For instance, the ability to interact with a map via mobile while continuing your conversation with your smart speaker. As more mobile devices enable voice, or build their own voice devices, we’ll see voice and visuals start to merge.

Step 5 - Visibility and awareness

Consumers will interact with voice assistants on 8.4 billion devices by 2024, according to a new study by Juniper Research. That would be growth of 113% compared to the 4.2 billion devices expected to be in use by the end of this year. 

The fastest growth is in connected TV-based voice assistants, as the assistants become a standard feature. About half (49%) of connected TV voice assistants are projected to be in use in 2024.

As the usage grows, we will continue to work closely with users, organisations and technology providers to create better education around what’s possible with this exciting, and ever evolving technology.

Thank you for reading, if you liked the words we put down here or you need some advice on how you can enable voice to have better conversations with your customers, chat to our Better by Voice VERSA experts today.