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How Voice Tech is Shaping the Future of Retail, Auto, Healthcare & Travel Industries

Margarita Yepes

AI-powered voice technology is steadily integrating into every facet of our lives, from homes to cars to the workplace. With the growing use of sophisticated AI techniques (speech recognition, natural language processing or NLP, and neural networks), Voice is now moving from simple voice commands into a new era: real-time conversations. 

The popularity of AI Voice has been led primarily by the consumer adoption of digital voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Home. As with most consumer-led technologies, voice technology has matured, and businesses are turning to its capabilities to automate communication, create efficiencies, drive down costs and deliver better customer experiences. Some of the industries that have benefitted from AI Voice include retail, healthcare, automotive and travel and hospitality. 

Meet the frontrunners in the AI Voice revolution

Four brands are leading the pack with AI Voice innovation today: Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana. According to the Statista Research Department, there are over 110 million virtual assistant users in the United States alone. In 2020, there will be 4.2 billion digital voice assistants being used in devices around the world and by 2024, the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units.

Verto Analytics released an intriguing report revealing that 42% of U.S. smartphone owners used AI-based personal assistants an average of 10 times per month. That is 71 million people with 710 million AI-based interactions and nearly 900 million hours of use each month. 

4 industries that are being transformed by AI Voice

Retail

While the rise of e-commerce has been slowly displacing brick-and-mortar presences, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of AI Voice Assistants to search for and purchase products online.

AI Voice-Assistants can interpret a user’s voice command or question (re. inventory, pricing, product availability, etc.), and provide a relevant answer. They can also navigate users to relevant web pages and present them with upsell opportunities.

As AI Voice Assistants collect more data about their users, they are able to predict demand for items based on a user’s history of searches, purchases and product reviews, thus creating a more personalized and seamless buyer experience.

Incorporating voice technology throughout every stage of the purchasing experience is offering unprecedented opportunities for brands to secure customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Travel & Hospitality

From using mobile apps to book your hotel or flight, or using a GPS to navigate you through places or virtually explore a destination you are about to visit, every part of your travel journey is done digitally. And AI Voice is helping make the process of finding, booking and paying much simpler.

Hotel chains like Marriott and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) have partnered with Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality to provide their guests with an Alexa to control room lighting, play audio content, learn about weather and travel updates, order room service, call reception and check out.

Because no two countries are alike, AI Voice is also helping break language barriers with speech-to-speech translation, creating a smoother travel experience. Users are able to refine the search process based on exactly what they’re looking for, such as “a 4-star hotel in downtown Miami with a balcony, within walking distance of Brickell City Centre for under $150”, offering them a more curated and personalized selection of results. This, in turn, should deliver more qualified potential guests to a travel brand’s website, and ultimately, increase conversion rates.

Automotive

In-car speech recognition systems have become an almost standard feature in all many new vehicles on the market today. These systems aim to remove the distraction of looking down at your mobile phone while you drive. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Nuance are reshaping the way voice-activation is used in vehicles, enabling drivers to find directions, send emails, make phone calls, and play music, all by using their voice.

According to Voicebot.ai, for the second straight year, about 60% of consumers say that presence of a Voice Assistant is a factor in their new car purchase criteria. As a result, Voice Assistants like Alexa have seen demand go through the roof, with carmakers like BMW and Ford partnering with Amazon to build Alexa voice integrations directly into their cars for things like engine controlling, door locking, as well as getting updates on fuel or battery level, and vehicle range.

Healthcare

The healthcare industry is rapidly changing with advancements in both AI and robotics. AI Voice is being used to book appointments or even advise on prescriptions. You can also ask an AI Voice Assistant for advice on medical conditions and whether you should seek professional care. Voice assistants are even able to ‘listen in on patient visits and document all patient notes, process data, and access records, so the physician can focus all their attention on the patient. 

As an alternative to in-office visits, AI Voice Assistants can provide 24-hour care to a wide range of patients who may need access to care on-demand: People with chronic diseases that experience flare-ups, disabled patients with family caregivers, and rural patients living farther away from in-person medical care. 

Final Thoughts 

In recent years, voice technology has seen an increased growth in both popularity and adoption. From consumer devices in homes like the Amazon Echo and Google Home to the deployment of voice-based solutions within business and enterprise environments, voice continues to have an impact on our daily lives. Commerce, travel, health and transportation are being impacted industry-wide as consumers transform the way they interact with brands as a result of voice technology.

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