Amazon, Uber and Sephora are reaching customers over natural-language platforms.
At this year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference, Amazon announced the integration of Capital One’s banking service with their voice-controlled speaker and digital assistant, Echo. Consumers can check their balance, pay their bills and track their spending by simply talking to Alexa, the voice service on the device.
To ensure that the service is secure, users can set up a pass code so that only they have access to their bank account. In a world where consumers are looking for convenience and ease of use without compromising on security, Capital One could be one in a long line of brands to exploit the power of voice-activated digital assistants.
Amazon’s announcement is only the latest example of consumers interacting with a brand via natural language, a growing trend that was dubbed “conversational commerce” in a Medium piece earlier this year by Chris Messina, a user interface expert and developer experience lead at Uber. This shift means that users will increasingly interact with brands by chatting through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack and spoken-language interfaces like Alexa.
This has big implications for finance, retail and related sectors. Sephora, for example, has created a chat bot on messaging app Kik to recreate the one-to-one in-store experience and engage with customers directly. Users can make purchases, receive make-up tips, see reviews and get recommendations all through the social platform. Similarly, Uber’s integration into Facebook Messenger allows users to start a conversation with Uber directly and request a ride through the platform.
When used alongside the digital assistants of the future, conversational commerce will be an even more powerful tool. Viv, also presented at SXSW 2016, aspires to be an omnipresent, multi-device assistant that learns and adapts to the user. The AI behind Viv calculates the best option based on an array of information such as user location, suitability and price. When coupled with conversational commerce, Viv will be a game changer.
As consumers look to simplify their lives, brands should learn to speak their language and look to reach audiences one-to-one for a more personal, informative and seamless experience.