How AI Has Shifted Brand Communications

People became numb to one-way brand communications a long time ago, resulting in our attention spans plummeting. Consumers are empowered to define the way they want to engage with brands and the experiences they have with them. Because of this, traditional media is becoming increasingly ineffective in delivering content and engaging with them.

Speaking at CES, Nestlé’s Global Head/Digital Innovation & Service Models, Pete Blackshaw, said “How do you provide a reinvigorated customer service experience for consumers? I think voice falls into that: It’s both utility and entertainment. And, for us, it’s a potential service layer that sits on top of our brand.”

Following a recent study, which found that 48% of Millennials prefer messaging and web chat over email or mobile apps as a means of contact with brands.

Following a recent study, which found that 48% of Millennials prefer messaging and web chat over email or mobile apps as a means of contact with brands, it should come as no surprise that voice tech is filling this desire.

And brands are already jumping on this

Last year Diageo launched a new skill called ‘The Bar’ for the Amazon Echo Show in the UK to help consumers create great cocktails at home for Christmas.

 In order to understand why AI and voice user interfaces (VUIs) are connecting with consumers, you merely have to look at human behaviour.

When human beings converse, they exchange information. A two way value exchange that takes place, where both parties learn something about each other. People now expect that same value exchange with brands, or they switch off. It is for this reason that traditional one-way communications channels are disappearing and dividing, audiences are dwindling, and consumers are tuning out with ever increasing digital distraction.

The way in which consumers are communicating with brands is becoming more conversational evidenced by the fact that monthly active user messaging apps have now surpassed social networks.  The more brands look to present themselves as ‘more human’, the more we seek to personify them, and the ways we interact with them.

ComScore research has suggested that by 2020, 50% of all searches are forecast to be made using voice. In addition, research from OC&C Strategy Consultants, predicts almost half of UK households are expected to own a smart speaker by 2022, and spend £3.5bn through them.

Facebook and other messaging platforms have made it incredibly easy to create basic chatbots, using machine learning to help determine what the consumer’s question is, source a relevant answer and form a reply. An evolving piece of software, it learns and improves the longer it is used and for many companies is providing an automated extension of their social and CRM strategies.

ComScore research has suggested that by 2020, 50% of all searches are forecast to be made using voice. In addition, research from OC&C Strategy Consultants, predicts almost half of UK households are expected to own a smart speaker by 2022, and spend £3.5bn through them.

Voice tech is transforming customer service for companies operating in industries with high volumes of interactions, or needing to interact with customers on a 24-hour basis, by making it conversational.  As a result, consumers are now more empowered than ever to define the way they want to engage with brands and the experiences they have with them.

And brands are listening

Instagram is reportedly launching a voice/video call feature, Facebook in doing the same with the launch of Portal in the Spring. In addition, Amazon – perhaps the most infamous brand leading the voice tech revolution – is expanding its voice repertoire by investing in voice-activated smart thermostat company Ecobee. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when the retail giant launched the Alexa Fund in 2015, aimed specifically at voice-enabled products.

While the definition of AI varies, as well as opinions on where we are in its development journey, what remains unified is the effect AI, voice and chatbots are having on the digital customer journey. Voice is a medium that is not only becoming more popular but has been proven to be one of the best ways of interacting with the consumer. Experiences designed around voice and conversation can increase efficiency, forming a faster, simpler and easier method of creating connection.

Brands are constantly struggling to effectively communicate with their customers – just look at Brewdog’s International Women’s Day campaign turkey. Voice tech offers a platform that customers really want; personalised, simple, and easy. Give your customers the service and experience they want, not another pink themed campaign (even if with good intentions).

Jiri Bures

Digital Creative Director, EMEA at Imagination

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