Shout it out loud

  • — Words by James Robinson
  • Filed under Bits and pieces

                                 Image by Mike Stokoe 

 

Chances are you might be eyeing up a smart speaker in the Black Friday sales. YouGov have said one in ten people now have a speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home in their pad, up from one in 20 last year.

I do quite like the idea of being able to summon a Jimi Hendrix solo to my kitchen at the drop of a (velvet, wide-brimmed) hat. But if you’re a brand looking to start helping your customers through a voice assistant, the new tech can throw up plenty of challenges. We think it’s useful to start out by thinking about the two sides of any voice conversation: the input and the output.

Listen up

Speech isn’t like writing. Human beings use really different language when they talk out loud. (If you’ve been on one of our training sessions, your writing might be more speechlike than it was before, but it’s never going to be exactly the same.)

Whether they’re doing a ‘Hey Google’-style search or using your proprietary app, people will use their speaking voice. That means they’ll say ‘Laura has been talking about prawn gyoza for the last hour’ and not what they’d type into a search bar (‘Japanese takeaway south Manchester delivery’). But whether it’s edamame, energy or electronics you’re selling, you’ll need to think carefully about what your audience will be asking for to get near the top of the search rankings.

Answer in your real voice 

If your brand has its own voice assistant, take the time to make sure its personality is a good fit for you. Chatbots and voice assistants are already starting to all sound the same, so don’t settle for an off-the-shelf product which is generically ‘warm and friendly’.

Be sceptical of anyone who tries to recommend a radically different tone of voice from your main one. Your new digital friend should be an extension of your main brand’s personality and feel like someone you’d really hire. Setting up their voice is a chance to express yourself, say something about your company’s history, and show your audience you’ve made the effort.

And as always, plug your ears to the jargon 

The way things are going, we’ll soon be able to put together a voice tech bingo card, with conversation architecture, voice revolution and anthropomorphic UI on the winning line. When you’re reading up on voice, don’t let the consultancy jargon fool you. The skills you need to have good conversations are golden oldies. They’re just having their comeback tour.   

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