By John Oechsle
We spend a lot of time talking to our gadgets these days. Whether we’re seeking directions from Siri or weather updates from Alexa, speech is quickly becoming a preferred means of communicating with technology. A future once at our fingertips now rests at the tips of our tongues.
Voice activated technology doesn’t just afford us fun tools for our private lives – this technology is playing an increasingly pivotal role in the professional world, too. And that extends to the small and midsized business space. Voice activation is now helping small and midsized businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software with more speed and efficiency. This burgeoning feature becoming a game changer in a world where the tech-savviest players win.
Here’s how your business can, and should, use voice activation for CRM to its advantage.
Alexa, help save me time
Voice-activated CRMs have become significant time-saving tools for professionals across the board.
They help users interact with data in more targeted ways, meaning they can bypass irrelevant information and skip directly to the data they’re seeking. A time-crunched salesman can simply say: “Alexa, open Act! and retrieve John Smith’s email” rather than opening a CRM program on a computer and manually retrieving the information.
Speech-to-text software can be a real timesaver for data entry, too. Rather than the costly and monotonous task of manually imputing data, users can rely on software to submit information via speech. This saves hours. The average worker types 50-70 words per minute. Meanwhile, speech recognition programs can accommodate 120-140 words per minute with near-perfect accuracy. And if you’re serious about saving time, forget texting. A Stanford study found speech recognition to be three-times faster than typing on a phone.
Alexa, help me adapt
As I mentioned, many people are already using voice activation in their day-to-day lives. According to a recent study, nearly 40 percent of smartphone owners use voice recognition software.
Naturally, small and midsized business owners and employees will want to use voice activation in their professional lives, too. And smaller organizations are often better positioned to test and integrate new technologies on the fly than enterprise-level companies that come with much longer approval, research and implementation processes.
Early stage voice-activated CRMs will consist of a basic integration with well-established virtual assistants such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod. Users can ease into this advancing technology by mastering the basic skills, and continuing to learn as voice activation becomes more sophisticated.
As businesses begin relying more heavily on voice activation, they’ll find there’s no longer a need to bring up a full-blown CRM. Instead, they’ll rely on spoken words to complete a task.
Alexa, what’s next?
The greatest advantages of voice-activated CRM technology are still to come. Though base level interaction tools will continue to pop up over the next 12 to 15 months, this technology is expected to become much more sophisticated within the next year-and-a-half.
It’s mind blowing to think about how sophisticated CRM-related artificial intelligence will become. In July, an Israeli startup called Gong received $20 million in funding to develop a tool that uses “natural language processing and machine learning to help train and suggest information to sales people and customer service reps.” How incredible is that?
Mainstreaming of such technology will allow small and midsized businesses to take advantage of the processing power that industry behemoths such as Amazon and IBM are investing into. If you can believe it, the speech recognition market is expected to reach nearly $10 billion by 2022.
It all translates into tremendous value for small and midsized businesses. Taking advantage of technological advances as they become available allows smaller organizations to adapt faster within their CRM plans, benefit from huge productivity gains, and experiment with less risk.
Soon, CRM users will be able to interact with email, set up activities, and even receive recommendations on the next best customer interaction to initiate. They’ll accomplish all this by simply verbalizing a sentence or two.
Keyboards aren’t going anywhere…yet. But CRM voice activation is coming fast and finding ways to have your small business take advantage of this new technology to drive better, more meaningful customer interactions can have a real impact on your bottom line and organizational growth. So, drink a nice cup of tea with honey because you may need those pipes at the office tomorrow!
John Oechsle joined Swiftpage in July 2012 and currently serves as president and chief executive officer. John came to Swiftpage with a 30 year track record of building highly profitable and sustainable revenue growth for emerging companies and established global leaders.