Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

Amazon Echo: More Than a Hands-free Speaker

March 18, 2016

We’ve come a long way in the hands-free communications space, and the technology is rather mind blowing. We used to wear wired headsets to talk freely on our mobile phones while driving, and those evolved into wireless Bluetooth devices.  Now our vehicles come equipped with hands-free speech technology, and of course, our homes are following suit. Thanks to Amazon, the nifty device known as the Echo is changing how we consume information, and it doesn’t require being tethered to a device or a computer.

Connected to the Alexa Voice Service, the Echo acts like a personal assistant, but in a tiny device. Want to hear some music? Just ask it to play your favorite tunes. Want to catch up on the latest and best audiobooks? It can read those for you. Ask it about the weather, the traffic, or what’s on your calendar for the day, or just set a timer for that cake in the oven. It can be set up to know these things and so much more, and it makes living in the future that much cooler.

Of course this is a game changer for our digitized home life, but one aspect that may be overlooked is how this plays into the omni-channel customer service sector. The folks over at Aspect (News - Alert) bring up this interesting point right on the company blog, and the parallel is quite fascinating, more specifically for the self-service model.

Today’s customers have become more self-sufficient when it comes to seeking out answers to product inquiries or support issues. Self-service support, such as a support center or a simple Web FAQ have made it possible for customers to solve their support issues around the clock instead of having to pick up the phone or engage in Web chat. Self-service overall is cheaper, reduces ticket time, and leads to increased agent efficiency.

So what, exactly, does Echo have to do with the self-service model in the omni-channel philosophy? By its simple technology, it opens doors for so many customer-centric needs. As Aspect points out, what if this technology can help customers check bank account balances, just by asking the device? What if you can schedule your car maintenance appointments without ever picking up the phone? How about booking that cruise you’ve been meaning to call a travel agent about? In these instances, the customer hasn’t so much looked at a computer screen nor picked up a telephone. It is the ultimate in the self-service model, and it’s all possible with voice technology and a cool robotic device.

While the current omni-channel landscape has companies using more than one tool to interact with their customers daily, whether it’s social media or WebRTC chat, this changes the game entirely, and can bring customers right to your door without ever having to answer a physical call.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi