Voice control technology is rapidly developing and is set to transform many different services, indeed Capgemini’s own research shows that voice assistants are set to revolutionise commerce. This new tool is becoming part of daily life in every sector, including retail, banking and automotive, and allows consumers and workers to complete essential activities such as search for information, make purchases and organise tasks.
Earlier this year we held a launch event with the DigiCertif’* Community within Capgemini Invent. At the event we asked some of our DigiMasters – our highest level digitally certified consultants – for their opinions on the impact that voice control will have on businesses and their customers.
How can companies reassure customers they can create a secure relationship using voice assistants?
Sandeep Kumar – Head of Cybersecurity (SK): I think this is a new frontier. I read research where they are using embedded sound in a song to issue hidden commands to Alexa or voice assistants, which have capabilities to do simple things like switch on the lights. If you extend this concept further, you could start to make payment transfers or anything of the sort, which could pose a huge risk. The challenge of course is that we need very reliable voice authentication at the front of highly sensitive services.
Colin Payne –Digital Financial Services Global Domain Lead (CP): For banking, Barclays has done voice authentication, and Siri too. The voice itself in security terms is better authentication than the fingerprint as there are a hundred different variables. The only hack I know of has been the two twins on the BBC. From my experience in the banking world it is quite difficult to hack, so more or less every bank has done voice activated payments.
SK: The transition that needs to happen is that the authentication becomes a little more seamless. Right now, there is a separate process and it introduces a layer of complexity that makes password answers a bit of a challenge.
How do you believe that voice control technology can help business become more efficient?
Alex Smith-Bingham – Head of Digital Customer Experience (ASB): Conversation commerce is big. The first thing I think organisations need to focus on is not only trying to simplify the process, but also how can they make things more convenient. The other thing which I think is fascinating is that most of our digital work is visualisation – beautiful presentations, experiences and all that – so how can we now transfer this into an aural experience, and what is a good aural experience?
CP: With voice activation, banking is going to be revolutionised entirely: It will mean a change to the business models of most banks because the traditional call centre model will change entirely. Chatbots have already indicated where that is going. Once voice is enabled – which it kind of is now – then I think in five years’ time you will very rarely speak to a human being. You wouldn’t notice the difference.
Gagandeep Gadri – Head of Customer Experience and Analytics (GG): Two things: Voice control is going to reduce costs of automation, getting things done faster and quicker. It will increase transactions, because if you are sat in a comfy chair and are not even going to reach for a device to do a search but instead you can just say it, then you are more likely to do it. I think it will increase sales and activity because it is just easy; say ‘buy me this, do this, I want this, get it for me’. You don’t see the price and I think more casual transactions will happen.
Do you think voice control may encourage more transactional behaviour? If so, how will that impact the customer relationship?
GG: The customer relationship between organisations is going to become less personal. Say I’m sat at home and I want some baby wipes: ‘Alexa, buy me some baby wipes – cheapest price’. I don’t care if they are a major brand or something else. One benefit is that the voice control is doing the difficult thing for me: ‘search, what’s the best offer, can I get it tomorrow, and will it be delivered?’ It will be the ease of things, rather than the relationship.
Bhavesh Unadkat – Principal Consultant in Retail Customer Engagement (BU): The key thing is that this is another channel and businesses need to ensure they drive value by not treating it as an isolated channel. I think that the history of these digital channels is that businesses have set up a website or mobile app in isolation. This needs to be part of the overall customer experience. If you stand back and think about yourself as a consumer or in everyday life, where does voice fit into that equation? That is the question that businesses need to answer.
How ready do you think clients are to have conversations about voice control?
ASB: I think a number are just grappling with earlier parts of digital. Some are looking hard at this as their next wave of innovation. But I think we have a whole load of clients that would be interested. Banks may be different.
CP: Everyone in banking is on it.
BU: In retail, everyone is talking about it; everyone is embracing innovation more than before in retail. It’s one of those stages where they are running a test or pilot to see how if fits in their organisation. Tesco and Boots are two brands that said they wouldn’t disclose details, but it is a key part of 2018 in terms of investment and opportunity.
SK: I think that the sector that has the greatest potential is automotive, because if you look at the customer’s time where voice is most valuable, drive time (when you can’t do anything else) is your biggest window of opportunity.
GG: Cars are a higher value purchase, but it will be interesting to see how businesses try and use voice for less expensive products. Where and how is it going to fit in? I think there are different challenges with organisations, but I agree with the potential that automotive has.
Thank you to our DigiMasters for sharing their thoughts. We will see voice control change more and more of the services we use, both as the technology and application of it becomes more mature, and as take-up by organisations and consumers increases.
* The DigiCertif’ programme is a multi-level certification within Capgemini where our consultants are encouraged to constantly grow and deepen their digital expertise through tailored courses and digital projects.
Dan Turl is a Consultant within the Analytics team at Capgemini Invent. He developed his analytical skills with a postgraduate degree in Management Science, and has experience across a number of sectors, including central government and financial services. Dan has a strong interest in digital and is a key member of the team that launched the DigiCertif’ programme for Capgemini Invent in the UK.