How Voice Can Elevate Your Omnichannel Experience

Retail today is as much about the experience as it is about the physical products. There are many great examples of brands finding unique ways to deepen their engagement with customers, but very few have been successful doing so through voice. Why? Because companies haven’t yet found an authentic way to interact with customers through this medium.

Voice can be a valuable sales tool and can help reduce friction in the buying process, but you can’t forget about the customer journey as a whole. Customers don’t behave in a linear fashion, so finding areas where you can add value along the way and become an actual resource is crucial. The following three examples showcase some of the unique ways in which organizations are adding value to the customer experience while reducing friction overall.

Ask Perry Ellis

When 89% of companies are competing on the basis of customer experience, differentiation is paramount to success. While most companies are content to interact with customers via traditional channels, like web, mobile, and social media, voice gave Perry Ellis the platform to stand out in the crowd and deliver a compelling, differentiated experience.

Ask Perry Ellis is a Skill, or voice app, deployed on Amazon Alexa that helps customers seek out fashion advice for any social scenario. By making the voice command, "Alexa, Ask Perry Ellis what I should wear to..." users can receive personalized apparel offerings for scenarios like weddings, dates, interviews, and more. Given that 81% of men report having issues dressing appropriately for an occasion (per a Perry Ellis survey), this experience is a natural fit along the customer journey.

Best of all, suggested styles are sent directly to the customer’s Alexa app and email, providing them with multiple visual mediums to assess their choices and follow through on a transaction. Any time you can add a frictionless element to your customer journey and add value along the way, you will come out on top.


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Tide Stain Remover

Everyone, at one point or another, has spilled something on themselves. Despite the countless times it’s happened to me, I still don’t know how to treat one stain from another. For Tide, this is a perfect opportunity to use voice in a seamless manner. You don’t have to put the clothing down and scramble for the answer on a phone or computer – you just ask your voice assistant of choice.

Tide has step-by-step solutions to over 200 stain-based scenarios, from chocolate to blood to grass stains, and can even help you determine how much detergent to use in those tough-to-figure-out, high-efficiency washers. This Alexa Skill has everything you need to know about stains, available when you need it most. While Tide may not be everyone’s detergent brand of choice, this experience adds value that can make it indispensable to more people.

It’s not perfect, though. Despite more than 60 reviews, it is only rated at 3.5 stars. The main reason seems to be too much advertising. Users will generally accept some promotion to get useful information, but it’s a fine line for brands to tiptoe. Finding the right balance is paramount.

Patrón Cocktail Lab

After all this marketing talk, you might need a drink. Lucky for you, there’s a Skill for that! The Patrón Cocktail Lab is essentially your own recipe book and tequila guide. You still have to do the mixing yourself, but you no longer need a recipe book to store and keep away from your spills (unfortunately, there’s no Tide solution for stained books).

Rather than directly drive sales, Patrón Cocktail Lab is firmly focused on educating the market and being a valuable resource to customers. When many people think about tequila, they think only of shots or margaritas. The Cocktail Lab Skill offers helpful information to casual tequila drinkers to help broaden and sharpen their tequila knowledge, mixology skills, and cocktail recipe list.

Patrón Cocktail Lab also does a great job of using multiple channels, with a strong online presence to augment voice, including videos, cocktail recommendations, and more. In its first three weeks, Patrón Cocktail Lab delivered an average of 3,000 total unique voice interactions and 75 voice cocktail searches per day. It also drove nearly 30,000 page views to the Patrón website. This represents not only a great avenue for customer engagement, but a valuable return on investment for a company with otherwise a largely non-digital portfolio.

What do these examples tell us about how voice should work in your omnichannel marketing strategy? There are a few takeaways.

  1. Use it to educate and establish expertise: If your product is often misused or not used to its fullest extent, voice can be a valuable medium to educate and train users in a frictionless manner.
  2. Use it to directly drive sales: If your goal is to directly lead customers to purchase, make it seamless for users to actually make purchases via voice (e.g. easy account syncing and payment inputs).
  3. Use it as part of your omnichannel effort: For voice to make a difference, it must be a seamless element of the entire experience and not an obstruction. Just as users move from mobile to desktop, it should be equally easy to transition to voice and then back to web, mobile, desktop, or in store.
  4. Use it naturally, rather than promotionally: Consumers will accept some advertising in return for valuable information, but don’t go overboard. A quick message is probably OK, but a 30-second ad that plays before every response is probably too much.

Voice is absolutely the next step in the omnichannel customer journey. It is yet another touchpoint ripe for customer engagement and can be a key differentiator for brands looking to stand out in the crowd.

Learning from the aforementioned voice experiences is a great first step toward building the ideal experience for your brand. However, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Combine this experience with the likes of voice engine optimization (VEO) and multimodal capabilities, and you have the makings of a game-changing experience.

Of course, none of this is possible without thorough voice testing. Do you have the testing strategy, expertise, and resources to ensure quality on all levels? You can get it right. Just follow the leader.


Voice UX Best Practices

Discover the tips and techniques for building better voice experiences in this report from Voicebot and Applause.

Read 'Voice UX Best Practices' Now
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Emerson Sklar
Tech Evangelist and Solution Architect
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