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Don't Let Alexa or Siri Speak for Your Company: Protecting Your Brand's Voice on AI Platforms With the rising popularity of voice-driven AI assistants, it's important for businesses to offer a consistent brand experience.

By Tara Kelly Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When companies first began establishing an internet presence a generation ago, brand-savvy businesses worked with designers and web developers to make sure their sites were customer-friendly and that content was consistent with their brand. They didn't just scan printed marketing collateral and post it online, leaving it to the search engine to present their material in the best light. But today, some brands are essentially taking the same risk by putting their brand's voice in the hands of third-party AI platforms.

That's a mistake.

Related: Here's How You Can Use Alexa at Work

Voice-driven AI assistants are the next frontier in customer communications. Approximately 45 million Americans now own a smart speaker, according to CIRP survey data. If you're communicating with customers across multiple channels, you can't afford to ignore the growing popularity of AI assistants.

Recognize the opportunity for your brand.

AI assistants are a huge opportunity for your brand: They're becoming the go-to search tool for users, who would rather ask Alexa or Google a question than type text into a device. This has companies that want to communicate with customers wherever they are looking for quick ways to establish a voice platform presence. They're right to want to communicate with customers in their homes as quickly as possible. But it's risky to rush onto a voice platform without first creating a strategy to protect the brand's voice.

In their hurry to capitalize on the opportunity AI assistants offer, too many companies are leaving their brand's voice in the hands of the AI platform. That leaves them at risk of being "lost in translation" with an AI presence that doesn't reflect their brand standards and isn't consistent with their customer communication across other channels, including telephone voice response, online videos, etc.

Worse, it creates a situation where different brands are delivering the exact same customer experience. You need only look to the Alexa skills offered by American Express and Capital One -- two financial brands with very different brand images -- to hear this brand confusion in action. Both use similar questions and the exact same native Alexa voice to deliver their brand experience. When you consider that American Express goes to the effort of piping a unique brand smell into its Centurion Lounges to differentiate its brand, it's simply startling that they leave their brand voice up to the base voice provided by Amazon.

Related: Artificial Intelligence Now Has a Voice, But Security Challenges Loom

Put your company in the driver's seat.

So what's the alternative? Instead of leaving such an important communication function in the control of a platform, you should put your company in the driver's seat and create your own branded, AI-driven communication capabilities with an app that's designed for voice-enabled platforms. Leaders in sectors like insurance, financial services and retail are already doing just that, creating AI assistant-driven apps to engage customers in conversation on AI platforms in a natural, human voice that matches their brand.

If you're proactive about managing your brand, consider working with a vendor that specializes in voice communications. Collaboration with a partner can allow you to develop and deploy interfaces that let your company communicate with customers via API-enabled, data-driven dialogues. With this approach, deployment is relatively simple and communication is consistent across all voice platforms.

Retailers, insurers and financial services firms are already using this approach to converse with customers through AI assistants -- responding to customer questions about deliveries, appointments, balances, claims and payments, for example. But with the right partner, brands can ensure customer data is applied correctly while also protecting the brand's voice. When you consistently use up-to-date, accurate customer data, you build stronger connections with customers.

Related: Everything You Can Do With Amazon Alexa

Take control of the data.

Another advantage to taking control of your brand's voice on a third-party AI assistant platform is that the data becomes a two-way street. When you create your own app (e.g., Alexa Skills, etc.) you own the transaction data, and you can integrate data from AI transactions into your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

The spike in sales of voice-enabled AI assistants makes it clear that the conversation with customers is moving to that platform, whether your brand is ready or not. If you take the time to create a deliberate strategy, you'll gain an advantage like the one early internet adopters had when they published a well-designed, consistent, on-brand website.

The risk to companies that leave their brand voice in the hands of third-party platforms is clear: An inconsistent voice across channels dilutes brand value and erodes customer trust. And without control of the data generated via interactions with AI assistant users, brands will miss out on the chance to build more complete profiles and continuously improve the customer experience.

Related: 10 Crazy Tidbits About the First Voice of Apple's Siri

Get the expertise you need.

While forward-thinking companies are moving to AI-driven platforms with branded voice response capabilities, it remains rare. The overwhelming majority of companies that have established a presence on AI platforms are leaving their brand voice in the hands of the platform owner. That means the quicker you get your company's branded voice on AI platforms, the longer you'll enjoy a competitive advantage.

You don't have to develop your own skills or actions to take advantage of the incredible opportunity the rise of voice-enabled AI platforms presents. By working with digital voice communication experts who can provide API-enabled, data-driven dialogues, you can carry on the conversation with customers where they work and live, with customers inviting you into their homes in a more intimate way than just sitting in front of a laptop screen.

And by developing applications for AI platforms, you can ensure that your company is ready and able when customers ask their AI assistants for more information about a product or service, to resolve a customer service issue, and much more. With the right strategy, you can communicate with your customers in a strong, distinctive voice that won't get lost in translation.

Tara Kelly

President and CEO of SPLICE Software

President and CEO of SPLICE Software, Tara Kelly is passionate about technology’s potential to change lives for the better and has channeled that belief into developing technologies that improve the customer experience.

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