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Voice Interface Is The Next Step In UX: Is Your Business Ready?

Voice interface is the ‘new kid on the block’ and the latest platform businesses must get to grips with.  But how do you prepare for that from a UX perspective?

Highly successful UX designers have to be one step ahead of consumer behaviors.

If you want to innovate as a business, you need to create an awe-inspiring web and mobile interface. Interacting with you online has to be an ‘immersive’ experience on all devices.

This post will run through some of the reasons why your business needs to be ready for the next step in UX: the voice interface.

Voice Interface – What Is Possible?

The short answer to this question should be, ‘anything that you can also achieve with UI and visually-based design.’  However, with voice interface, the ‘journey’ from point A to point B will be very different.

For example, if you were a customer, looking to complete a financial transaction such as buying cinema tickets — a voice interface design will require an entirely different set-up than a navigable site or box-office experience. The process will need to be fast, with no confusing command overlaps or oversights that send the consumer on an endless loop. Only after rigorous testing and bug fixing should a service be launched to the consumer. A preemptive launch may irreparably damage customer experience. 

Voice interaction is also increasingly a back-end or operational tool. In an ecommerce setting. you can use voice commands to search stock location, check inventory etc. Voice interfacing can also help train your staff quicker and audit for quality without the need for a supervisor.

The critical advantage of enhancing your voice interactions is that you can use them to provide real value and convenience to the consumer, rather than just leaning on them as cheap gimmicks. Voice may also help you streamline your services on the back-end and reduce your costs as a business — but only if the design is right….

Translating Visual UI into Voice

If you are looking to turn an automated customer service transaction into a voice command sequence, you will need to plan beyond a simple ‘translation’ from one service to the other.

Your software would need to understand the natural lexicon and syntax structure of your customer. What would the average customer say when confronted with a prompt to speak?

But that’s only the beginning — there are dozens of variants, regional differences, accents, and synonyms that will also need to trigger an identical reaction (without an unsightly error message).

Voice UI needs to focus on human-led interactions. Your app would need to recognize variants, verbs, and common demands.

Utilizing Geographical Location To Get Best Results

If you know the exact location of your interaction point (i.e., the voice receiver), you can use geo-tools to provide suggestions based on the user’s locale.

The feature should be able to track and present a limited number of options suitable to the user’s needs. Studies in 2016 showed that voice searches are 3x more likely to be related to localized query. So, if your business is a local business, consider voice interfacing as a way to promote fast, local service.

Geotagging can also be used with RFID sensors within a warehouse or storeroom setting. RFID can help businesses locate and sort their goods, using voice recognition as the primary system for processing instructions.

Getting To Know Your Customer

Voice interfacing, over time, should take into account past data and create a more personalized experience as a customer relationship develops.

You would want to ensure that the technology got to know the user’s preferences as they continued to interact with your service. This means that the customer shouldn’t need to point out their size or purchase history as time goes on.

Data collection needs to be done in a way that supports relationship-building, and should never get in the way of actual user actions. (Imagine being stopped every 20 seconds to be asked to ‘save this data’ for next time).

Machine learning helps add value to the customer and provides you with actionable data points. The data gathered can be used to improve your service over time.

Providing a Faster Service, Even On A Small Scale

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a great addition to your customer service offering. For instance, a small ecommerce brand on a SaaS platform can set up apps that use voice-operated systems to process customer service inquiries efficiently.

Apps like Twilio or Call Center can be installed directly from your online storefront. The principal advantage of this is the apps’ ability to prioritize inquiries, ensuring that consumers get the best response for their needs.  For example, if your customer needs to return an item, they can ask for the address and terms and conditions by voice — providing a UX with less friction during a challenging time for the customer relationship.

Virtual Assistants At Work

Create your own internal UX and bring voice into the heart of your decision-making. A brighter and better office environment is likely to increase staff happiness and productivity.

Alexa is most widely known for its use in the smart home setting. However, offices of all types can utilize the voice platform to improve their operations. WIth Alexa Skills Kit, anyone can create a tailored virtual assistant for their needs.

Teach Alexa, for instance, to scan for relevant news stories in your industry. You could also set up email scheduling and marketing tasks through voice command. In particular, you can sync Alexa to a Gmail account and open and edit files on Google Docs. Perfect for note-taking or group work in a boardroom setting.

It’s really a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ your company will be ready for voice Interface. The technology is already here, and it is already adding value to both consumers and business owners alike. Think of ways that you too can use voice technologies to provide a tailored service that mirrors a real-life conversation. It doesn’t matter how ‘small’ you start — just start somewhere!



Victoria Greene is a writer and branding expert who blogs at Victoriaecommerce. On her blog, she regularly shares tips with readers looking to make the most of their websites and brands. Big advocate of big data and retail personalization.


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