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Voice - The Next UI

Co-authored by Ms. Aparna Pallavi, Head Digital Banking, 3i Infotech; Mr. Sanjay Pathak, Head Healthcare and Insurance Solutions, 3i Infotech; Mr. Meghashyam Simha, Head – Mobility & Automation, 3i Infotech

Voice technology is gaining mainstream acceptance thanks to the new voice based devices from the leading companies like Amazon, Google. Simultaneously Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more efficient in identifying user intents. Many industries are experimenting with the devices and AI powered abstraction layers to identify areas that they exploit to deliver superior customer experience.

According to Google, 20% of the searches are already by voice and they expect this to increase to 50% by 2020. Quantum leap in voice accuracy is another trend that is seen by the technology analysts over the last couple of years. The fast adoption of the voice activated devices is helping industries on a faster learning curve for the devices and accuracy. From the users perspective, at least 2 in 5 users say that voice activated devices are essential to their lives.


Some of the industries that are dabbling with this technology are retail, banking and financial services, insurance and healthcare. It is also predicted that soon industries will be looking at voice first strategies.


Banking & Financial Services:


Voice is the new channel banks are exploring to add to the plethora of channels. Why conversational banking now? Aside from the trends pushing banks towards this new channel, banks are always on a quest to make their services and offerings more and more personalised. The next question everyone is faced with is how they can go about introducing this channel. This requires good understanding of their customers and how well their staff is trained to handle introduction of this new technology.


The smart speakers (Ex: Echo, Google Home, Apple Home pod) are being used as effective marketing channels in many industries. The starting point for banks can also be this, where skills or services are offered either via the smart speakers or voice assistant embedded in existing bank apps to deliver relevant information to the customers. This would help in keeping the customers more engaged with the bank, and progressively the voice skills can be evolved to handle more complex processes.


Today banks are expected to play the role of someone who takes care of the financial well-being of their customers. Personal financial management (PFM) is the way banks are keeping their customers engaged. Many see PFM as digital banking. The channel for this need not necessarily be restricted to portal, web or tablet, and this can be further extended to new channels like voice. This allows banks to start giving tips or education that is valuable and relevant to keep the customers more engaged with the bank and ultimately drive them towards more profitable actions.


Insurance & Healthcare:


One of the biggest challenge Insurance industry has been facing globally is how to make consumers better understand the products they offer. This is why the prime channel to sell these policies today is via agents. But as we all know this channel has its own limitations from availability, time bound, limited access and finally knowledge of agent himself. With advent of smart voice assistant services using smart speaker industry can sure put this concern to rest, if done right. Voice being most natural & common media to communicate, this channel can provide the required learning right at the time required. Like when buying a policy, consumers can be educated of policy coverage or during a claims servicing phase, the process can be explained easily and various liabilities etc. explained as requested by consumers. The voice as a channel provides ease of use for day to day transaction. The overall experience from this channel can be more than other channels combined.


Another good use of this channel would be in Healthcare industry which will benefit both consumers and providers side. While consumers benefit from ease of use from added channel the provider side can achieve excellence not only on the clinical aspects but also save lot of time they spend after each consultancy. A virtual voice assistance can help patient check-in and can assist doctor look up past medical records and test results.


One of the biggest concern/risk in Healthcare Industry for adoption of this channel will be privacy. The adoption strategy should weigh out these risks and leverage technology and standard operating procedures (SOP) to mitigate them.


Key KPI’s:


One of the success criteria of this channel depends on how well corporates/organizations are able to create a dialogue for its customers, where the system is able to respond in context to the customers. Final aim should be to pass the Turing test via this channel. This should only be an aim and not a limiting factor to open this channel up for their customers.


Security is another criteria that would determine the adoption of this channel. As a rule of thumb all the security protocols that apply to the other channels used by the bank would have to be built-in to the voice channel as well.


Finally the new channels should seamlessly integrate with all the other channels, so customers have an Omni-channel experience. Organizations have created this experience with their existing channels. The new channel should just be an extension to this experience. 

Technology Adoption:
For an organization convinced about the business case of using voice as a channel, can begin with the development of a “voice application” targeting any smart speakers.

Application development can be done on platforms like AWS Lambda/DialogFlow, which support code written in Node.js (JavaScript), Python, Java (Java 8 compatible), C# (.NET Core), Go, etc. Organizations IT team can decide the right technology in line with their technology stack.


The “voice application” needs to interface with the backend systems, especially the core platform in order to fetch the right response to users’ queries.


However, in the absence of any UI, the approach to authenticate a user becomes crucial, but can be decided based on the organizations policies followed in web portal & mobile app. In most cases, multi-factor authentication would be enough to comply with the security policies.


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