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Purpose, Potential And Pitfalls Of Customer-facing Voice AI


In 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai demoed the Google Duplex Assistant at the company’s developer conference. While fluently conversing with a real human, the assistant takes appointments for haircuts, reserves tables at restaurants, and translates realistic and nuanced human speech patterns (complete with “hmm” and “ah”). imitated.

The audience gave the performance a big round of applause, but observers in the Twitter world and beyond were quick to question what they were hearing.

Some called the resemblance “scary,” while others felt deception was involved. I didn’t realize the person on the other end of the phone was talking to a bot.

In the end, this entire episode wasn’t a great PR for artificial intelligence or advanced voice technology. However, the reality is that voice AI has great potential to empower consumers and add value to the companies that deploy it, if its purpose and limitations are clearly understood. is unfortunate.

Wild Voice AI

One of the best examples is ordering food.

Extremely high inflation is driving up costs for restaurant owners, and labor shortages are making it difficult to keep up with customer demand (easing post-lockdowns took time). Some have had their phones ringing, and larger restaurants have even frustrated drive-thru customers waiting.

As a result, they are increasingly turning to voice technology to fill the gap.

It makes perfect sense. As long as voice technology is sophisticated enough, it may surprise you how smart it is today, but voice AI helps staff do the important work of taking orders, making delicious food, and ensuring delivery. can do. experience.

No one is fooled in this scenario. This type of voice AI tends to explain when it’s not obvious that it’s not human. Customers are happy, service industry professionals are supported, but not undermined.

good service, no servants

What about the next idea?
What if instead of each of us having our own humanoid his Jeeves (as in Google’s duplex scenario), different brands and companies would have their own assistants, forming an extensive ecosystem of language helpers ? In this way, businesses can assert their own brand identity and maintain a personal relationship with their customers without an intermediary. You can work with voice AI that really knows your service.

For example, language assistants in restaurants are familiar with menus. Learn your favorite combinations. They can make changes and suggestions. Learn how to upsell. Why can’t this be replicated in other areas of hospitality, retail, or even professional services? Here is the answer:
It is possible and is starting to happen.

Instead of thinking about creating sentient AI servants, let’s start thinking about voice assistants as functional tools that can be reused in this way. In the “real world” most of us don’t have servants or envoys to bargain for us, but rely on frontline workers who are knowledgeable, pleasant and efficient. Why not clone a system that works in place of your system?

It is our starting point and will make brands and consumer experiences more vibrant and rewarding. The point is not to replace staff with a large number of language assistants. Giving employees the time and space they need to focus on important tasks, streamlining cumbersome ordering systems, and helping businesses grow their bottom line. It’s also about letting customers step away from screens and devices and order in the most natural, human way we know: our voice.

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