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Customer Experience and Design

Voice in 2020 – Continued Growth, but Not the Way You Might Think

We’ve had a lot of conversations about mobile trends for 2020 and while there is no longer debate on whether mobile has arrived, I believe voice and “Zero UI” applications will continue to grow in usage and adoption in 2020, but not in the way you might think.
All signs point to voice continuing to grow across mobile devices and digital assistants. Consider:

These trends indicate continued overall growth in voice, but user situation and context will drive where and when voice usage growth continues among various demographics, and should guide where brands invest in their voice strategies.
Older cohorts (25 – 50+) will continue to be the heaviest users of voice and their usage will traverse devices. Ease of use is key to this group and they have a multitude of voice devices at their disposal, including mobile phones, home assistants, and voice-enabled car features. As their confidence in voice increases due to improved accuracy of responses and the accessibility voice offers those who would rather speak than type proliferates, it is likely they will turn to voice as their first interaction across devices at home and on the go. Older users also seem to care less about using voice in public, which might embolden others in their cohort to increase their own usage.
Younger cohorts (18-24) will drive adoption in using voice, but their usage will grow in more private contexts. They will also likely limit their usage to certain devices. This is because they are less likely to feel comfortable walking around in public shouting into their phones, and they are also more likely to be aware of potential privacy issues voice and voice applications present. Instead this cohort will likely drive voice adoption through use of voice at home, in private, and limited to straight-forward, objective uses like setting timers and having content read to them. Only once privacy considerations in mobile voice take significant steps towards resolution will this cohort expand its usage across contexts and devices.
One usage of voice that all cohorts have adopted, and will continue to drive growth in, is simple, straight-forward voice search. The following stats should be compelling for any brand that considers search a major traffic driver (and what brand doesn’t?):

  • 60% of smartphone users have tried voice search at least once in the past 12 months
  • 55% of teenagers are using voice search daily basis
  • Top three common keywords in voice search phrases are “how,” what,” and “best”

Optimizing content for voice is something any brand should have on their digital roadmap at this point. Read more about how to do that here.
But how else should brands consider voice in their digital strategies in 2020?  Consider your target customers and work with marketing and development teams to respond to the varying user expectations and concerns by:

  1. Building in more explicit and implicit privacy features and considerations. For example, recognizing a user is in a public location and offering keyboard responses to voice prompts.
  2. Continuing to enhance AI capabilities within voice to mitigate uncertainty around voice-driven purchases that are more personal and subjective in nature. For example, purchasing clothing.
  3. Building in more ‘humanizing’ features and personalization capabilities for voice interactions, including better natural language and accent handling, a greater variety of ‘assistant’ personalities, and voice ‘short-cuts’ to increase time-savings in using voice.

Read more about Perficient Digital’s perspective on voice and Zero UI in our Digital Essentials series.

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Kim Williams-Czopek

Kim Williams-Czopek is a Director of Digital Strategy at Perficient. She’s been a senior leader in several digital agencies, digital product companies, and served as VP of Digital on the brand side. She specializes in customer experience, commerce, digital responsibility, and digital business strategies.

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