Voice technology is gradually taking the stage as the new way consumers interface with online retailers. 21% of U.S. adults have engaged with voice shopping technology, and in 2017, one in four shoppers used voice assistants during the holiday shopping season. Gartner that by 2020, voice-activated searches will account for 30% of web browsing sessions.
Clearly, smart brands are paying attention. 53% of retailers plan to invest in voice search over the next 12 months. As more and more customers opt for hands-free interactions in their daily lives, consider voice technology the next step in keeping customers on board.
Organizations that took the leap and enabled voice assistants have seen it pay off. In fact, 35% of people transacted frequently with a VA-providing brand and 32% increased their spend and purchased more. Source
Partnering with voice assistant providers such as Amazon and Google goes a long way in improving the customer experience and promoting repeat orders. Using Google Home, consumers can reorder items from retailers through Google Assistant using words such as “Reorder item from Walmart.” Amazon Echo has similar capabilities in its Starbucks Reorder function, allowing customers to place an order via Alexa from one of the Starbucks stores they last visited.
Customers also use voice technology when weighing one product over another. 47% of consumers are more likely to use digital-assistant technology to create lists, compare prices, and search for products. One tip: consumers value the option of ordering directly from brands, so invest in brand identity to deliver a convenient shopping solution.
As a general rule, proactive customer education builds customer trust and reduces churn. One example: a study from Conductor showed a 9% increase in the amount of consumers who identified a brand as trustworthy after having read a brand-driven piece of educational content.
With Alexa Skills and Actions on Google, you can offer customers educational content or information that’ll ensure your brand remains top of mind. Procter and Gamble, for example, offers a Tide stain remover Alexa Skill that shares instructions on how to remove over 200 types of stains. Similarly, Estée Lauder’s Nighttime Expert offers consumers personalized evening skincare solutions and beauty techniques through Google Assistant. After making their way through a voice-based nighttime routine, users are given access to a free service at an Estée Lauder counter.
And just in case you’re wondering if consumers listen to content on voice assistants, according to a report from Voicelabs, they do. The report found that voice app second-week retention increased from 3% to just above 6%.
Once you’ve established that customers in your market might be interested in receiving content from smart speakers, create your educational Skills or Actions through identifying and maintaining a brand voice, and promote your VA tool to achieve consumer adoption and engagement.
In-Store Shopping Experience
In a world where price is no longer the holy grail of competitive advantage, investing in customer experience is a great way to retain customers. Organizations and companies that lead in customer experience retain a higher share of wallet and have a customer base that is seven times more likely to purchase again from them.
Though friendly store associates can always deliver a pleasant in-store shopping experience, 78% of consumers want brands to use technology to improve their experience, and 44% indicated that positive tech-enhanced experiences would lead to more frequent store visits. Here are some ways innovative retailers are using voice technology to retain their customers:
Engagement: At its New York City flagship store in Times Square, H&M recently set up voice interactive mirrors that “wake up” through facial recognition technology.
The mirror offers selfies, style advice, and discounts via QR codes. So far, 86% of customers who have taken a selfie have also downloaded it, and 10% of those signed up for the newsletter. This innovation provides H&M with a unique and lasting connection to customers.
Customer Support: While consumers do want in-store assistance, many prefer the guidance offered by voice assistance. Out of five consumers, three indicated they’d prefer a voice assistant to a sales associate while shopping in-store. Noting these trends, Calvin Klein partnered with Amazon Fashion and featured Echo devices in pop-up shops during the 2017 holiday season. The retailer implemented touchscreen-enabled Amazon Echo Shows in lounge areas and fitting rooms so that customers could ask Alexa product-related questions or play music while trying on clothes.
Overhyped stories about the death of physical retail stores aside, the truth is that having a brick and mortar store is still an asset. Consider using your retail store to deliver an exceptional customer experience with voice technology.
While mobile apps are great for customer retention, customers will uninstall your app if it isn’t useful.
One way you can drive customer retention through your app is by including voice search capabilities. 83% of consumers believe using voice technology makes it easier to find products, and 43% of people ages 18 – 29 have already used voice search.
While not yet widespread, mobile voice search is already on retailers’ roadmaps. 60% of retailers are planning to feature mobile voice search on their mobile roadmaps before the end of 2018. Recognizing the value of search, department chain Kohl’s integrated voice search into its mobile app, enabling users to bypass endless inventory browsing and easily find products.
If you’re in the dining industry, voice ordering delivers a frictionless experience for consumers and provides an opportunity for you to build long-term customers. Already, 56% of consumers are interested in using voice technology to order food, and some brands are taking note. Domino’s Pizza’s virtual ordering assistant “Dom” lets customers dictate orders via mobile devices. Similarly, Starbucks allows consumers to place voice orders within the Starbucks mobile iOS app.
Consumers Are Talking
While voice-powered tech is still in its early stages, it’s not a passing fad. To retain customers with voice technology, adopt a utility-first approach and build trust by educating customers on what they can achieve with your voice services. Don’t treat voice as an isolated channel. Rather, integrate it with your digital and physical environments as another convenient and effective way to connect with your brand.