‘Connected While Apart’ – 10 Learnings About Voice and Chatbot Application Today and In the Future

April 27, 2020

Earlier this month, our Co-Chief Innovation Officers and leaders of ForwardPMX’s voice and chat practice, Caroline Klatt and Dana Gibber, hosted a discussion about how to stay close to your customers and maintain meaningful engagement with them both through and beyond COVID-19.

The experiences shared between people and brands during the global pandemic will likely leave a lasting mark on customers’ perceptions of a brand, and influence their decisions around future brand loyalty. Executing the right communication strategy during this time is crucial – both from a revenue-generation and customer engagement standpoint.

Technology that may have seemed at least a couple of years down the pipeline is suddenly becoming essential to e-commerce and social commerce business, including voice and chatbots. We’ve gathered our Top 10 learnings from last week’s webinar about how to leverage these technologies, and why they’re so important.

1. Now is the time to invest in the best digital experiences.

Customers are home and still actively shopping e-commerce. In fact, U.S. ecommerce sales are up 25% since the Trump Administration declared a national state of emergency on March 13, 2020. 

 2. This is a time to get creative.

Back in 2009, the Snuggie emerged as the “first social media viral success.” This comes in a time of the great recession, where people certainly did not need to buy one. Thinking outside of the box and adapting to your customers’ changing wants and needs is a smart strategy during this time, and can unexpectedly make you a favorite brand!

 3. There are some not-so-obvious areas that have been doing extremely well in e-commerce. 

There is widespread opportunity happening in e-commerce now, if not in your immediate product set, then potentially in the form of cross-sell opportunities. Check out the graphic below for some industries that have seen a boost. 

4. Consumers are less forgiving during a time like this, and the companies that meet and exceed their needs will build loyalty and lifetime value.

People will look to buy from brands they know they can trust and rely on, and will certainly remember the customer experiences they have during this time. Brands that get their messaging right can drive huge success, and conversely, those that miss will have a harder time rebuilding customer connection post-COVID-19.

5. Chatbots enable brands to connect with more customers than ever previously possible.

You can have 1:1 conversations with all of your customers at scale, and in an environment when screen time on phones is soaring, meeting your customers where they are is extremely important. This especially rings true for millennials and gen z, core demographics that historically spend a great deal of time on their mobile devices and social platforms.

6. Chatbots are your digital salespeople, and they can provide the customer service you need.

With the ability to intelligently source the products consumers are looking for, as well as make informed recommendations, chatbots can bridge the interpersonal gap we’re facing during the global pandemic. Considering changes in shipping dates and product delays, having a bot there can alleviate some of the stress left by handing 75% of the common questions that your customers have. This frees up your team to handle the customers that really need your attention, a huge time saver and value-add.

7. Voice search will continue to grow in importance, with over 75% of American households expected to own a smart speaker by 2021.

Notable here as well is the gradual shift in behavior change, with 55% of teens now utilizing voice search daily.

8. Brands should invest in a voice SEO strategy.

Given the significant amount of activity through voice that pertains to brands – including rapidly increasing queries around “asking about facts”, “searching for a product or service” and “business or store location finder” – implementing a voice SEO strategy positions brands to stand out to consumers and meet them where they are. For example, many people ask “what’s the best ____” about a variety of products.

9. When it comes to voice tech, it’s education first.

Understanding what voice search is, how people are using it now, and how it works will help inform what the high-level strategies are that will favor your business over others. We’ve laid out how each one operates below.

10. To win in voice search there are three things you can do now to start:

  • A. Increase brand visibility via featured snippets. Featured snippets often appear as voice search results, so having your brand in position 0 helps to get that recognition
  • B. Leverage Google shopping features. Google tends to pull from Google Shopping for results over Google Home
  • C. Take advantage of list formats. They’re an easily readable format with titles that often include high-ranking words like “top” or “best.”

Given the unprecedented times we are in, we understand the need to protect your brand and company’s health. Chatbots and voice technology can help to sustain the relationships you have with your customers, as we know it’s the emotional connection you have with your consumers that wins in the long-term. The brands that learn fast, rapidly adjust strategies, and prioritize meaningful consumer connections will position themselves to thrive in digital, now and in the future.

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