We may not realize it, but voice technology is ingrained in our daily lives. Every time you ask Siri to Google something or respond to a text while driving, Ask Alexa to play your favorite song or use a navigation app, you are using artificial intelligence voice technology.
Each year, the options for voice technology expand. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, for example, are close to becoming fully customizable. Users have the opportunity to choose gender, or even gender-neutral, voices, different inflections, vocal tones, and accents. Companies like Apple and Google provide these options to their users to be more inclined to use that technology. This then becomes a selling point–who has the phone with the most fun and functional voice assistant? For instance, maybe you’ve been amused to ask Siri to sing you a song or been delighted to hear them say ‘I love you.’
Voice is one of the most distinctive human characteristics; no two voices are precisely the same in tone, quality, or speech pattern. Tech companies have thought about this too when pondering how to make users engage more with their product. In addition to their names and voices, smartphone voice assistants each have a unique persona; ask Alexa and Siri the same question, and you’ll get two different answers. On a psychological level, AI’s capacity to capture unique speech qualities tricks our brain into perceiving them as more human, even if we know they are not.
Speech is most people’s primary communication method, so it makes sense that finance companies have increasingly utilized artificial language tools to transform the way consumers use their products in recent years. Many customer service lines and call centers, for example, now use a screening method to filter out customers with simple questions that can be answered by a machine from customers who need help from a human representative.
The most common use of AI voice technology in the financial sector is banks and customer service departments. Many banks have other financial services have integrated voice AI voice into their front end operations and consumer interfaces. Using voice AI, customers can review account information, check the status of bill payments, initiate transfers, manage their account settings, and locate branches and ATMs. All of these features, consolidated into one platform, such as a mobile app, are incredibly attractive to consumers who want to manage their finances without lifting a finger.
Beyond convenience, voice technology offers a more personalized customer experience. It’s been well-demonstrated that customers prefer when brands make them feel special. Customer loyalty is built on the personal connection brands can form with customers. For instance, addressing a promotional email to the customer’s name instead of “Dear Customer.” Conversation-based banking works well in developing bonds with users because it makes transactions feel more “human.” Emotion is incredibly essential for fostering customer loyalty. Voice recognition is now at the forefront of helping companies brand themselves and establish a rapport with customers, even if that presence is not human.
Advanced voice technology leads to improved customer service. With the help of voice AI, customer service departments can direct calls to the appropriate department. AI can also handle simple transactions or answer frequently asked questions, freeing up human agents to address the more pressing issues or issues that voice command can’t solve. In most scenarios, voice AI utilization results in decreased waiting time, and less work on both the consumer and customer service ends.
Voice technology can make use of data metrics. Every successful entrepreneur or fintech start-up knows the importance of data metrics. Data metrics can give companies insight into their performance in real-time. By analyzing data metrics, you can build models and understand your client base’s habits and needs.
Data metrics work by consolidating different models into one broader portfolio. Many financial services are doing something similar by reducing their services into a single app or platform. This is done in part by using data metrics, which are then applied to voice technology. Users can then see an overview of their finances or whatever the service may offer and carry out many different actions via voice control.
Along with this new direction for financial services comes some concerns, such as efficiency, user-friendliness, and security. Efficiency goes hand-in-hand with user-friendliness. For a voice AI to be functional, it needs to have utility on both the front and back end. AI will most likely never wholly replicate human labor, but it can repeat it surprisingly well. When used in conjunction with human agents, it can be an enormous time and money saver.
As consumers conduct more and more business remotely, security had become a significant concern over the phone or online. Voice technology may indeed open up a new set of security risks. For instance, supposedly, everyone has a unique “vocal fingerprint” that cannot be replicated. One solution to potential security risks could be biometrics.
An advanced voice recognition AI would allow people to sign into accounts using voice command the same way retina, face, and fingerprint scans are used. Some researchers remain skeptical about whether a voice could potentially be stolen or replicated. In contrast, others view it as the next step in security if used in combination with biometrics such as fingerprint scans.
One thing is for sure: voice AI has room to grow, and as the technology progresses, so will the safety and functionality of it. In the future, perhaps voice AI will expand voice recognition to recognize regional dialects and a wider variety of languages while still protecting humans’ supposedly unique vocal fingerprint. For now, voice AI has incredible potential to improve small-scale operations and user capabilities, making it an increasingly sought-after technology.