Is your Customer Support team ready to serve Siri and Alexa?

Is jouw klantenserviceteam klaar voor Siri en Alexa?

Many customers are starting to entrust basic queries to voice assistants, virtual personal assistants, and smart speakers like Siri and Alexa. This means that your CS team will soon be dealing with machines that are making enquiries on behalf of their humans through phone, chat, or to access information. Is your customer support team ready to deal with them?

Meet your new machine customers

The voice assistant and smart speakers many people use on an ever-increasing basis include Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Assistant. These are the machine customers your customer service team will have to serve and deal with more and more.

Basically, a voice assistant is intelligent software that ‘understands’ and responds to voice commands. It runs on devices like smartphones, wearables, speakers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, TV consoles, IoT devices, gaming consoles, VR (virtual reality) headsets and even cars!

How popular are these AI assistants?

It’s estimated there are currently 4.2 billion digital voice assistants, machine customers or smart speakers worldwide! As many as 123.5 million adults in the US use voice assistants at least once per month already.

In Europe the same trend is manifesting, with voice commerce becoming more and more popular. Up to 11% of traditionally conservative German shoppers now use voice assistants at least once a week. Amongst younger people in Germany, this figure stands at 19%, whilst in the Netherlands 17% of people use voice assistants at least once a week. In the US this figure is expected to reach 50% in the next three years. In response, 91% of brands investing in and gearing up for the voice market.

What are machine customers?

First of all, a voice assistant or machine customer isn’t a chatbot or AI that ‘lives’ inside your brand organisation. It’s an entity that is located in your human or business customer’s home, cell phone, other devices, or cars.

Voice assistants are software products that carry out services (like requesting information or resolving issues) on behalf of their human owners to make their lives easier. Machine customers can identify and report problems to your customer service, and try to get a resolution of that problem on behalf of their humans.

The human customer is often not actively involved in the process at all. They just reap the benefits of the successful interaction with your brand. Voice assistants are all about reducing the effort your human customers have to expend.

Related content: 8 essential customer service technologies

What are voice assistant and smart speakers capable of?

Here are just some of the tasks AI assistant are taking on:

  • Virtual assistants can continuously monitor your car, and request a service or log a repair that is needed.
  • In offices, they can monitor whether copiers and printers need ink or toner, and order them before you run out.
  • Arrange a taxi or monitor their human’s bank balance.
  • Pay accounts, transfer money, and make appointments.
  • Switch on the water sprinkler in your garden, or turn on the oven or lights before you get home.

And make no mistake – customers love the convenience of a brand that embraces this new retail trend! Offering machine customer functionality will assuredly put you ahead of competitors that don’t.

Preparing your CS function for machine customers

So, how do you prepare your customer support team to deal with queries from voice assistants like Siri and Alexa? Here are a few tips:

1. Research the most popular voice assistants

Your first step should be to research the most popular voice assistants among your customer base. This will help you identify which ones you need to train your team for. As said, some of the most popular voice assistants include Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.

2. Identify the key features of each voice assistant

Once you know which voice assistants are the most commonly used, you’ll need to identify the key features of each one. This will help you understand what kind of queries your team might need to deal with. For example, Siri is a voice assistant that is built into Apple devices.

3. Learn about the common tasks that people use voice assistants for

It’s also important to learn which tasks people use voice assistants for, and to catalogue instances where machines make inquiries on behalf of human customers.

This will give you a better idea of what kind of queries your team might need to handle.

4. Train your customer support team on how to handle voice assistant queries

Identify who in your organization is going to be responsible for developing this machine customer functionality. Your team’s training should cover topics like how to identify which voice assistant is being used, how to troubleshoot common issues, and how and when to escalate complex issues. It’s also vital that your team learns about and builds up an understanding of how your human customers’ needs differ from those of machine customers.

5. Make your FAQs ‘voice assistant’ friendly

Make sure your FAQs and informational content include the kinds of queries a customer might make through their AI assistant. For example:

  • “Alexa, find out if Mike’s Hardware offers returns.”
  • “Hey Cortana, find out when my order from (your brand) will arrive.”
  • “Siri, how many devices can I use on (your brand’s) software?”
  • “Hey Google, does Pat’s Deli do free delivery?”

In conclusion

With the popularity of voice assistants on the rise, it’s crucial that your customer support team knows how to handle queries from voice assistants. By following the tips listed above, you can ensure that your business is ready to provide an excellent customer experience to everyone who uses a voice assistant to interact with your company.

If you’re not ready to tackle this on your own, we can help you! Our skilled and experienced team at DCC can ensure your brand is at the forefront of this new frontier of dealing with machine customers.