The future of voice technology in the customer journey

Could you imagine what it would be like if everyone had their very own personal assistant? It won't be long before that day dream becomes a reality, thanks to Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and Cortana. Personal voice assistants are booming and the major tech companies are trying to get their piece of the pie. Their physical devices, such as the Google Home or Amazon Echo, are becoming more and more common in living rooms around the world. But what do those digital assistants mean for the (digital) strategy and customer journey of your company?

What's it all about?

Simply put, a voice assistant is a piece of software that uses speech recognition algorithms to accomplish certain tasks or answer questions. Their goal is to make the interaction feel as close to interacting with a human as possible. Ideally, these assistants can even pass the Turing test.

An enrichment for the customer journey

Voice assistants are definitely an enrichment for the customer journey, but when you don't anticipate and think about how you could use them in your own customer journey, they could turn into a threat rather quickly. In the end, voice technology should be seen as a new shift in the customer journey, similar to the big shift to mobile from desktop. That's why it's interesting to start thinking about its possibilities for your company early on.

It's important to make sure that the customer is an integral part in the voice parts of the customer journey, considering that this journey is becoming increasingly personal. It has become hard to categorise people, as everyone requires their own, personal set of interactions. This is where voice assistants come into play.

There are many advantages to using voice assistants. Let's say that you're cooking, but you don't want to get your cookbook dirty. If you had a voice assistant, you could've just simply asked it for the recipe's next step.

The next example comes from Colruyt, where you can simply ask them to order "chocolate spread". Based on your buying habits, it'll pick a brand for you. This means that the device decides which brand you buy. The consumer will become detached from this choice, which means that, as a company, it's incredibly important to discover new ways to integrate this device into your customer journey.

Personal assistants and voice technology give you access to quite a lot of new touchpoints that will prove to be an important addition to the existing customer journey. Think of chat bots, the possibility for customers to purchase things using only their voice, comparing products on the fly and double checking product information. People who search through voice are more likely to be looking for something that they need right away. They want an immediate answer to their question or want direct results for their search query. If a user is looking for a restaurant, they'll probably want to go there that same day.

Of course, there are also some difficulties with voice technology. People search in a different way. When they are looking for a recipe through Google, they'll probably enter "Vanilla pudding recipe". If they'd be using voice, chances are that they would simply ask: "How do you make vanilla pudding?" This results in an increase in long tail search queries.

Google Home plays a big role in these queries. Research conducted by comScore shows that half of all search queries will be made through voice by 2020. Voice is just that much easier than typing. Whenever you ask something that the Google Assistant doesn't know, it'll simply ask Google. You have to make sure that your company knows which questions a user is most likely to ask.

Companies that are already future-proofing

There are quite a lot of examples in the USA, but even Belgian and Dutch companies are preparing for this revolution by testing several tools to integrate voice into their customer journey. VRT and Colruyt are already experimenting with this new technology.

Colruyt has a strong focus on voice technology. Their basic premise is simple. They want to give customers the ability to save their shopping lists to their Colruyt profile through their Google Assistant. That way, they can consult their list wherever they are, whenever they need it. This makes writing and typing obsolete. When customers check their shopping list in the app, it will give them suggestions based on their personal preferences. When someone wants to add "chocolate spread" to their list, the app will automatically check which types of products this person prefers. This, in turn, allows the app to determine which brand and packaging is the right fit for this particular customer. After putting their list together, they can order their products right away and pick them up at the nearest Colruyt store.

Then there's Belgium's public broadcaster, VRT, who's trying to integrate voice technology into their radio and news offering. One of their goals is to allow Google Assistant to source news directly from their feed or tune in to your favourite radio station.

Companies like bol.com already have something up and running. You can talk to them when you are trying to find the perfect gift for someone, but you just need a bit of extra information.

What does the future have in store?

We still expect lots of additions and improvements to voice assistants. Google recently launched their newest project: Google Duplex. This device allows the Google Assistant to schedule things like your hairdresser's appointments for you. Google Assistant will call them and take care of everything. It'll even add a reminder to your calendar. This video will show you exactly how it works:


This technology is evolving in a rapid tempo. Voice will become more and more personal as time goes on. Every interaction with the user will result in new insights in their needs, wants and interests. There's a high chance that this will give rise to new ideas and best practices that'll make marketing even more relevant.

How do we make sure that we're prepared?

It's clear that digital assistants will become a vital part of your digital marketing strategy. There will be several changes when it comes to SEO. Here are a few tips to catch those voice queries and to improve your results through regular searches.

Make sure that the content matches the way we speak

People will look for answers in a different way. When they are looking for a recipe through Google, they'll probably enter "Vanilla pudding recipe". If they'd be using voice, chances are that they would simply ask: "How do you make vanilla pudding?" This results in an increase in long tail search queries. This means that it'll become more important to answer the 6 Ws.

Skip unreadable content like tables

When you make content that's meant for voice assistants, then you'll have to avoid certain elements that are hard for them to read. Tables are a prime example of these elements. An easy solution to this problem is to simply summarise the contents of the table in a few bullets.

Use Schema markup

When the content doesn't match the way we speak, you can still try to help Google out. By using structured data, you can tell Google exactly what your content is about. Structured data is a standard that allows you to add additional information about a webpage. There are many different ways to do so at your fingertips. For a recipe page, those could be the specific ingredients, the amount of calories or how long something has to be in the oven before it's done.


Smart assistants will become part of the customer journey of every user. As a company, you have to make sure that you're prepared. When these assistants are launched in Belgium, they will quickly become a staple in every household. Through some small adjustments, you can make sure that your website is ready for this revolution.

New call-to-action

Posted on
Apr 9, 2019