Voice technology is changing the way we interact with people and devices. To date, innovation in voice has been mostly limited to convenience. Currently, most mature voice applications serve as a more convenient way of communicating than typing. The power of voice is limited to the analysis of our words without accounting for all the other incredible insights contained in how we speak. Asking Siri or Alexa to send a text message or for directions to the nearest grocery store may have seemed groundbreaking 5 years ago, but today consumers and enterprises alike are looking forward to the next wave of voice powered capabilities.
At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, the company announced several updates to their voice assistant Siri, making many people believe the company had finally arrived in terms of delivering a reasonably capable digital assistant. With a new visual interface, the ability to handle follow-up questions and even language transition, Siri is improving but it certainly hasn’t reached its full potential. The same could be said for Amazon Echo, which has taken a first step in adding new and more convenient interfaces to consumer devices. As researchers discover new ways to understand and harness the complexities of human communication, the future capabilities of voice technology will evolve to become more emotionally intelligent and empathetic; technology will better recognize the intricacies of how we communicate as humans, improving the way we interact with each other and the devices that surround us. In fact, our core definition of what “voice technology” means will shift not only to include the voice itself, but the intelligence accompanying communication.
The future of voice is conversations
Voice enabled devices will become more intelligent as they learn to process not just the words we speak but many other behavioral insights contained in conversational dynamics (pitch, tone, vocal effort, pace, interruptions, mimicry, volume, etc.). In fact, the basic perception of what we consider voice technology today will evolve beyond the sounds/words we emit to include the incredible insights that accompany it. With the help of advanced analytics, behavioral models and machine learning, voice-first devices will be able to more effectively interpret intent and meaning to be far more interactive. For example, devices will be more readily able to detect frustration, anxiety, impatience or a need for empathy. As voice analysis matures, devices will become more “conversational” and human-like in their behavior. The insights mined from voice interactions, packaged in a more robust and contextual device, will be fed back to each of us instantly and will help us become more effective communicators.
The impact of voice on the enterprise and its customers
The new wave of voice analysis will have significant implications for the enterprise, especially in those industries (banks, health and general insurers, hospitality, etc.) that thrive based on their ability to grow customer lifetime value. By more effectively leveraging voice, enterprises will have better and more immediate insight into the perception of their customers, delivering a clear competitive advantage. Voice applications within the enterprise will help employees communicate more effectively with customers, prospects and co-workers.
AI powered voice technology is being deployed today in call centers to improve agent performance and deliver a better experience for customers. Agents receive live feedback on their speaking behaviors helping them sound more confident, competent and courteous. The latest voice capabilities have enabled organizations to provide in-call guidance for agents, helping them adjust their communication style, be more empathetic and responsive. The combination of AI and voice applications is disrupting sales and service operations and changing the way brands interact with customers for a more positive outcome. But it’s not just call centers that stand to reap the benefits of voice innovation. Any function that relies on better human conversations stands to benefit.
We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the capabilities of voice technology. In the coming years we will see voice interfaces become much more pervasive, imputative and powerful. At Cogito, we’re excited to be one of many organizations dedicated to helping drive innovations that will help us all live happier and more productive lives.