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Our Hellish Voice-Activated Future

By Augie Ray | January 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

MarketingCustomer Experience

I see a lot of marketers getting excited about voice tech. Let’s stop for a moment to recall how marketers excited about email and social media behaved, flooding your inbox and newsfeed with ads. Now imagine every brand in your life getting access to your Alexa or Home.

“It’s time to brush your teeth with our new blockchain-equipped plaque-fighting brush.”

“I hear you and your spouse fighting. Our new voice-enabled marriage counseling bot is now 50% off for a limited time!”

“You have an STD. Come visit our site for exclusive content on how to manage your condition!”

“Your checking account dropped below $500. Time for our instant, no-fee loan. Just say ‘Give me $20,000’ to activate this offer!'”  TermsandconditionsapplytheAPRforthisloanis38%.”

“Care to buy that dress the actress on the sitcom is wearing? How about the flatware, poster, shoes, drapes, sofa, eyeshadow, necklace, lamp, or granola bar in this scene? New scene! Care to buy the top, earrings, hair color, chair, coffee, sunglasses, watch, printer or rug in this scene? New scene! Care to purchase the…”

That may sound ridiculous, but how is this different than your inbox before spam filtering or pretty much any web page you visit? Go to a news site and count every ad on the page–I’ll wait.

Is that our voice future? Needing a voice spam filter? Having to tell Alexa to shut up? Walking around our house afraid to speak because anything we say could be turned into a marketing opportunity? Or worse? (“Man, do I feel hungover. That party really burned down the house!” Alexa responds, “I regret to inform you that your homeowner’s policy was canceled and your health care premium just rose 15%.”)

The problem is that many marketers won’t think they’re doing anything wrong. In each case, the brand will convince itself that it is doing something valuable for consumers. A personalized offer in the right channel at the right time can never be wrong, can it? (Switch the perspective to see things from the customer’s perspective and ask if 500 or more brands all speaking the right offer at the right time on a Google Home speaker is a desirable situation.)

The answer for brands is to focus on the Customer Experience first and the tech second. The question should never be “How do I use this technology to engage customers and prospects?” but “What do my customers want and expect, and what technologies facilitate it?” The brands that win in the future won’t be the ones that execute their marketing strategies across voice, AR, VR, blockchain, bots, skills, and apps but the ones that use the right tech for the right customer need. Lead with CX, not tech, to create strong bonds with customers.

Gartner members may be interested in a new research report that discusses how a customer-centric approach can lead marketers from customer wants and needs to business outcomes such as increased revenue, improved retention, and better WOM.

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