Software needs a Voice User Interface ASAP

Voice User Interface is the next frontier
Just as graphics replaced characters-based command line interfaces, VUI – Voice User Interface represents the next phase of the human-machine interface odyssey. With the emphasis on all things digital, from social media to emails and apps, one can quickly forget that speech was always, and still remains the main medium in which people communicate. It wasn’t that long ago when marketing was mostly done via newspapers and magazines and follow-up sales were by telephone.  The truth is that in today’s array of digital communications, it’s not that voice has been lost, but actually has a chance to stand out between all those e-newsletters and website banners that bombard us every day.

Reach & Frequency

Since the golden age of radio and television, the term “reach and frequency” has been guiding marketers for years. In simple terms, the goal is to spread the brand’s own message to the maximum number of people and expose each one as many times as possible to that message.   That might have been true in the days of mass media of newspapers, radio and broadcast television, but applies less and less today. These terms no longer accurately describe how marketing works in the digital age and need to be replaced by something more relevant such as “interaction and engagement”.

Interaction & Engagement

When we compare today’s individualized approach to yesterday’s mass marketing of radio and TV, we must realize that if someone had been able to talk back to their radio or communicate with their TV, then perhaps we would have been talking about “interaction and engagement” a long time ago. It is only through technological advances in communication infrastructure and applications, that we now have a two-way line of communications between brands and customers that never existed before.  Broadband Internet ushered in the age of two-way communications between brands and customers. Tracking mechanisms could now attach users and the content they consume to targeted advertising campaigns. Likewise, consumers gained power as they could publicly share their opinions about certain brands and products while giving reviews and sharing endorsements. But this power comes at a cost, as brands have more information than ever on how to micro-target the market segments which make up their audience.

Micro-Targeting

A targeted approach should be embraced for micro-segments. This includes identifying and targeting specific audiences with their own consent. By indicating that they would like to interact, it opens the way for creating a relationship, engaging in loyalty programs and hopefully becoming brand ambassadors to their friends and colleagues.  Providing value and engaging with potential and existing customers is the correct methodology and a good example of the way things should be done. The nice part is that it evens the playing field as small software companies have a much better shot at competing with the big boys with clever digital marketing. 

Engagement Techniques

In addition to marketing, software companies also have unique ways to engage and interact with their customers that have nothing to do with email or social media. 

User Interface

One of the main places where software vendors interact and engage with their customers in the digital age is the User Interface. It is the space where the interactions between humans and machines occur. While such Interaction must allow for the effective operation of the product and enable users to fulfill their requirements, it is also one of the places where software makers and software users spend the most time together. In the early days, the UI was very much determined by the hardware you were using, such as a Macintosh, IBM PC or mainframe workstation. Today’s environment is pretty much the opposite of that situation, where using the SaaS model, the vast majority of software vendors are providing hardware-neutral interfaces based on HTML. Since all vendors are now essentially operating from within a web browser, the look & feel and ease of use of a web-based application can make all the difference between success and failure. As customers grow and get used to the interface, it becomes one of the most important places where software vendors engage with their customers on a daily basis.  Updating and upgrading the UI with the latest technologies, have become more important than ever to stand out and succeed using the SaaS model. Looking at the popularity of consumer products, whether it’s Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa it’s pretty clear the future of UI lies in the integration of voice into virtually every application.

Voice User Interface

We are stepping into the age of voice. Voice search, voice-based interaction between consumers and brands. Voice-based services are now becoming the industry’s leading user interface format.  This is where software vendors need to take the lead in upgrading their level of engagement with customers by leveraging voice technology. It makes sense that voice is going to be the main human-machine interface going forwards and will be essential for ongoing relations between software providers and their customers. 

Conclusion

So this is a shout-out to all software vendors to make sure they understand the importance of interacting and engaging with the latest technologies – and today that means the next generation of VUI – Voice User Interface.  If you not actively developing your VUI already, then you better make sure that is part of your development roadmap going forwards. In the future, software vendors will succeed and fail on the strength of their interaction and engagement with their customers via their UI. If you want to be a winner, then make sure voice is part of your game plan.