Though a crucial tool in many businesses’ toolkits for over a decade, it’s clear that right now, speech recognition technology is having a moment. Look no further than Microsoft’s acquisition of Nuance, or the ongoing trend of social media companies introducing audio-only aspects to their platforms, and you’ll see it’s clear that organizations are starting to understand the value that speech technology can have for their businesses. According to our own Trends and Predictions for Voice Technology in 2021 report, 2020 saw a marked increase in voice technology adoption, with 68% of respondents reporting their company has a voice technology strategy – up 18% from last year. But voice technology shouldn’t only be part of the larger enterprises’ toolkit – small businesses, too, should formulate adoption plans for speech technology now. Here’s why:

Increased exposure to voice technology has led to rising customer expectations

Awareness and adoption of voice technologies is booming, and it’s clear that this is something that consumers not only want, but are becoming accustomed to. Social media companies are leading this trend, exposing consumers to the simplicity and convenience of voice technology more and more; seemingly every week, another social media company announces a new voice or speech technology feature. Twitter is working on audio chat rooms, Slack is hinting at an asynchronous audio feature, and LinkedIn is working on an audio networking option just to name a few. Not to mention, voice assistants on smartphones and smart home devices are part of many’s daily routines. Putting on a new show on the television is simpler than ever with voice assistants like Alexa standing by, even in the remote. By offering the convenience of voice technology in your business, you’re meeting consumer expectations where they already are, and will set your business up for success as you scale up.

Beyond this, COVID-19 changed people’s habits exponentially, and many now have a fear of touching high touch surfaces. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that many have expressed interest in using voice technology to replace actions such as choosing a floor on the elevator (55%), opening a door (56%), or using a vending machine (49%). According to the Adobe Voice Survey 2020, 86% of respondents noted that voice technology could make public interactions, like visiting a business or attending an event, feel more sanitary and safe. As technology evolves and people decide what they want to see in this new normal, you want to ensure you’re keeping up.

Transcription services voids the need for the note taker

The benefits don’t stop there: not only is speech and audio technology something your customers will want, but it’s something your employees can benefit from as well. One of the most common use cases for speech to text technology is the transcription aspect. For your organization, having access to searchable, editable transcripts can be a low maintenance, high reward way to keep track of important information. When leveraged during web conferencing, for example, calls can be transcribed in real time and void the need for a note-taker. And, these transcription services have really evolved over the past few years: now, they can provide users with speaker identification, highlight and comment functionality, adjustable timestamps and a custom dictionary so that it can best suit your specific business needs.

Meeting complex regulations made simple

A remote workforce and countless digital channels for communication has made the ability to meet changing existing regulations a challenge. Another immeasurable benefit of using voice technology includes remaining compliant with regulatory requirements. Using speech recognition technology for regulatory compliance allows you to monitor at scale, while protecting customers and your business. For example, analytics of voice data enables businesses to understand the intent, context and empathy of a conversation, which means it can quickly identify compliance issues and mitigate risk. That’s why it can be a critical tool in remaining compliant and mitigating risk. Having speech recognition software in place allows for ongoing tracking of information across communication channels. With that information, you can adopt sentiment and analytics tools that spot red flags and allow for regulation and compliance checks to be automatic, rather than manual. Your technology can be vital in following these evolving guidelines and protecting your business.

Staying ahead of the curve

There’s no denying it: voice technology is becoming more valuable to businesses, increasingly expected by customers and progressively accessible to all. For those that have not yet put in place a strategy for voice technology, 60% reported it’s something they’ll consider in the next 5 years. Organizations are recognizing the value that voice technology brings to their business. Not only does it streamline workflow and solve inefficiencies, but it improves customer experiences and ultimately contributes to your bottom line. Whether you are a large enterprise or a growing business, adopting voice technology should be key to staying one step ahead of your competitor and remaining relevant to your customer base. So, small businesses, what are you waiting for?

Katy Wigdahl, who joined Speechmatics in 2019, initially started her career in finance as a trained accountant, previously working at Unilever and Transversal. As CEO of Speechmatics she brings with her a wealth of experience in leading finance functions and improving the overall quality of data and decision-making. Her diverse skill-set took her into the world of fast growth technology where she consulted businesses of all sizes, supporting them on their growth and transformation plans. She is fascinated by cultural, organisational and transformational change and is a hugely valuable addition to the Speechmatics Leadership team as they embark on the next stage of expansion.@Speechmatics

Speech technology stock photo by peterschreiber.media/Shutterstock