What Is Voice Assistant and How Does It Improve the Customer Experience?


Chances are good that you’re familiar with Siri and Alexa. Most of us use one or the other to handle everyday tasks, like adding entries to our calendars, setting reminders, or building shopping lists. These are voice assistants, and they’ve become ubiquitous today, at least with big tech companies. However, smaller businesses are beginning to show interest in voice assistant technology and its potential for changing the customer experience. 

What is a voice assistant?

Voice assistants are just what they sound like – digital assistants that are activated by your voice. You might say, “Siri, remind me at 8 PM to prep the coffee for tomorrow morning.” At 8 PM, your Apple device will remind you so that you don’t forget to get everything set up for your morning cup of joe. Depending on the technology you use, voice assistants can do a lot more, like controlling lights, televisions, and so much more. 

How is voice assistant technology entering the customer experience sphere?

So, how does technology like this migrate from your smartphone to the customer experience? Voice assistants are beginning to play a role in a wide range of industries, including marketing, eCommerce, banking, legal, education, healthcare, transportation, and tons of others. This influx is due to two factors: the increasing appreciation of this technology on the part of consumers and the realization that voice assistants can save time, money, and hassle on the part of business owners.

How can SMBs tap into the voice assistant trend?

Before we explore how voice assistants can improve the customer experience, let’s touch on how small and medium businesses can even make use of them. 

Aren’t these kind of exclusively the purview of big businesses? Maybe once, but no longer. It’s possible to add a brand-centric voice assistant to your website that uses AI and natural language processing (NLP) to understand your customer requests and then respond to them in a natural way, similar to how a human customer service rep would. 

However, it goes beyond your website. Imagine if you could turn over your phone answering responsibilities to an AI-powered voice assistant capable of providing accurate, brand-aligned information to callers, routing calls to the right parties, booking appointments, and then handing off sensitive calls to human agents.

How do voice assistants improve the customer experience?

You can probably guess at least a few of the ways voice assistants can improve the customer experience based on the information we’ve discussed thus far. However, let’s dig a bit deeper to really make the case for VAs within your customer journey.

Answering calls

How much time do you or your team members spend answering the phone? And of those calls, how many convert to customers? How many customer calls go to voicemail because you’re busy with other callers or other tasks? 

Voice assistants can handle entire phone conversations without human input, ensuring that your customers never have to deal with voicemail and that their calls never go unanswered, no matter how busy you might be with mission-critical matters. And because AI is so advanced today, the experience will be virtually indistinguishable from working with a live agent.

Collect customer information

One of the most common customer complaints is having to provide their information multiple times to different people, often during the same phone call. A voice assistant can help ensure that this doesn’t happen to your customers, improving their overall experience and reducing frustration. 

The voice assistant can request specific information that your team members will need to help address the customer’s concerns and then populate that information throughout the system, so it doesn’t need to be requested again, even if the customer needs to speak with a human agent (or more than one). The voice assistant can also add a caller’s information to your system for future use, ensuring seamless marketing and a more cohesive experience overall.

Qualifying leads

The lead qualification process is just as important for your customers as it is for your business. Without an accurate qualification process, a customer’s needs may be inaccurately assessed, their budget may be misclassified, and their position within the overall customer journey may be improperly determined. 

Voice assistants can help ensure accuracy throughout the lead qualification process, which leads to better product/service recommendations, a better understanding of what might be driving a customer to seek you out, and so much more. With that accurate understanding, you can then build a strong, long-lasting relationship that’s mutually beneficial.

Handing off to live agents

To be clear, there are situations that voice assistants cannot or should not handle. These include sensitive topics and complex situations that require human creativity and ingenuity. Thankfully, an advanced, AI-powered voice assistant can determine these situations and make the appropriate handoff to a live human agent. That builds trust with your audience and fosters longer-term relationships, all while improving the overall experience.

Smith.ai delivers the voice assistant your business needs

To date, voice assistants have largely been available only to big businesses with deep pockets. Smith.ai is changing that paradigm. Our industry-leading, AI-powered voice assistant can answer your phones, collect essential information, and qualify leads, all while helping you build the relationships you need for growth and success. Plus, it integrates with our virtual receptionist services, so there’s always an expert human agent ready to step in.

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai.


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Written by Mike Graner

Mike Graner is the Marketing Manager at Smith.ai. He focuses on engaging content, company updates, and in-person events.


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