The short answer: voice is about to shape marketing and customer experience in big ways. In 2018, voice-enabled device sales hit 1 billion. More than 40 percent of users create shopping lists with them. Almost half use them to perform product searches and reviews. In short, voice engagement needs to be part of every company’s customer relationship strategy. It will also require some hardcore partnership between marketing and the overall sales team (not to mention IT). The following are some tips to keep marketing on top of the new voice technology and CRM trend.
Map Your Vision
As the sales team is using voice to better update data, track conversations, and automate messages, the marketing team needs to come up with its own complimentary map of goals for voice technology. It’s simply too important to leave it to chance. First, get with your IT and sales teams to find out what you are able to track and harness from the voice you’re using and gathering. What data, beyond names and dates, are you able to pull and keep secure? What types of insights do you want to gain from that data? For the data to be meaningful, you need to have a plan for using it, right from the outset.
If you already have a customer journey map, this can be a part of that. If you don’t have a customer journey map, start there first and then add this to it.
Be AI and ML Ready
The true value of voice is that there is so much more data you can mine, including dark and unstructured data that would be impossible to gain any other way. Just ask Alexa. As a marketing team, you need to decide how much to invest in mining this information and the insights it could hold. Do you want to track each entire conversation? Track the emotions behind the words? How far do you want to go down the voice recognition rabbit hole to learn about your customers? Once you know, make sure you have the tech, team, and infrastructure to support it.
When you do collect this data, you need to be prepared to use AI and machine learning to glean insights from it. Like I said above, this data is useless unless you do something with it.
Conversation Must Be Followed by Action
The CRM is no longer just a rolodex. It’s a living, breathing thing that needs to respond automatically to what customers want, as noted above. The reason customers love voice is because it’s instant. It works like real conversation. That means that customers expect the conversations they have with voice tech to be followed by real-life action. It’s not enough to say, “Alexa, I want a new duvet cover.” We want Alexa to put it on a list, order the duvet cover, and have it sent same-day delivery. This is what our customers want from us. How will you implement the insights your customers offer by voice? This requires an intimate relationship between sales and marketing, as well as IT.
Shoot for the SEO Stars
Voice is changing the rules of engagement when it comes to SEO. After all, when a customer searches for “best duvet cover” only one response will be read out from Siri’s digital lips: the top one. How will you ensure that you are in the top position and don’t disappear into the internet’s second string? Marketing needs to be aware that SEO works a bit differently in voice (it’s a bit more … wordy, for instance) and respond accordingly.
While the opportunities with voice technology and CRM software are endless, you also need to be aware of the ethics of the situation. We know Amazon listens to us and collects data on our voice interactions, but that’s pretty creepy when you think about it. If you do decide to combine these two things, be transparent with your customers. Let them know what you’re doing, what data you’re collecting, and how you’re using it. Also give them the option to opt out if they don’t want to share their data. Protecting your customers will go a long way with loyalty.
Conversations are Still the No. 1 Way Customers Want to Communicate
Last but not least, marketing needs to understand that the new fascination with voice and CRM is a clear indication that customers want conversation. They want give-and-take. They want responsive assistants. They want to give an order and know it will be followed. They don’t want lip. They won’t want “buts.” They want to feel a personal connection, but most of all they want to feel heard by the bot with whom they are conversing. How can your company ensure that your CRM and voice technology will provide them with that feeling?
Voice technology and CRM will arm marketing teams with tons of opportunities to get creative with customer engagement. What can you do to interact with your customers via voice? Embed a new skill in Alexa? Create a voice-activated app? What’s more, how can voice make your customers’ lives even easier and more efficient? We as humans know that conversation is what builds relationships. Take time to figure out how your voice-abled conversations with customers can take your customer relationships that much further.
The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.