Talk to Me: How Good Customer Service Improves Voice Search Marketing

Voice searches are changing the way marketers connect with B2B and B2C customers. Customer service can help improve voice search marketing. 

We all like to think of innovation as coming from a “eureka!” moment from a lone genius sitting in a room. She’ll be sitting there, pondering with a furious intensity, and maybe staring at a jumbled chalkboard, and then she’ll shout: I’ve got it! Tacos with potato chip shells! And that’s how the world changes.

But it really isn’t that way at all, most of the time. Innovation comes from strange sources, and things we take for granted are moved along by unexpected forces. Take voice searches, which are revolutionizing marketing and forcing professionals to change the way they interact with the internet. This incredible technology was developed unexpectedly, and is being changed not just by engineers, but by the usage of everyday customers.

The growth of voice search will change marketing, and to be truly responsive, marketers and customer service professionals have to work together to perfect its usage.  

The Development and Growth of Voice Search

Voice commands started not as a way to make it easier for everyone to shop, but to make websites easier for people with disabilities to access. People who were blind or had other physical disabilities were essentially shut out of the internet, something which was inherently unfair. Voice commands were a way to change that, and to be in compliance with state and federal laws (Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act is the relevant statute).

From that noble purpose, everyone has reaped the benefits of voice command, and especially voice search, whether it is through Siri, Alexa, Google, or any other search engine/personal assistant. The stats bear out its explosive growth.

  • 3400%: rise in voice searches since 2008
  • 25%: Bing searches are voice searches
  • 20%: Google searches are voice searches
  • 55%: teens who use voice search once a day
  • 41%: adults who use voice search once a day
  • 100%: growth in Google voice searches from 2015-2016
  • 41%: People who have started using voice search in the last 6 months

That last stat might be the most important one, especially when you add that 19% of people started between 6 months and 1 year. That’s 60% of Americans who have a year or less of experience with voice searches. This is a very new field, and it is changing marketing.

How Voice Searches Change Marketing

For the last few years, marketing has been about getting the customer to come to you. By offering information, and by being where they are searching, companies have been able to get in front of customers and offer them value above and beyond the product or service they are offering. Inbound marketing is about giving the consumer the right information they need to decide. And that has involved smart social and SEO tactics.

Voice searches change that. On Google, if you were looking for a sporting goods store, you’d probably type something like “sporting good stores Poughkeepsie” (if in fact that’s where you were). But that’s not how we do a voice search. We’re far more likely to say “where can I get a baseball glove?” and the search engine will find sporting goods stores near you.

It works for B2B and B2C. For example:

B2C Regular vs. Voice Search

Regular: best cable options save money

Voice: “What are better cable options?”

B2C Regular Vs. Voice Search

Regular: Cloud storage companies for midsize business

Voice: “What are cloud storage companies near me?”

So you have to have a different marketing strategy to pick up different searches. And the way you do that is to understand your customers. And the best way to understand them is to listen to customer service.

How Customer Service Can Help Your Voice Search Strategy

We’ve talked about how complaints can help you understand customer pain points and perceptions. You can use them to better know your customer. But you can also use them to understand what words customers use to describe your product.

Here’s an example. Say you are selling high-end kitchen supplies, and you have a knife with a very fancy name. Let’s say you call it a “Hollow-Handled Serrated Chef Knife”. That sounds great, and it looks great on copy. And maybe when people are searching for supplies, they might type in “serrated”.

But on the phone when talking to customer service? They say “bread knife”. It’s less formal. It’s easier to say. And because you’re talking, you feel the need to be less specific.

This can let you know that, when using voice, customers are more likely to say “what’s a good bread knife?” or “what’s the best knife to cut a baguette?” or something along those lines. Those are the searches you have to capture. Those are the customers you need to reach. You understand how they think about your product, thanks to customer service.

So voice searches were invented not as convenience, but as a matter of accessibility and equality. They are being honed not just by engineers, but by customer service professionals who are on the front lines of how people actually speak. And these innovations and improvements can be used by companies who want their marketing to reach people where they actually live.

At RDI Corporation, we combine the best in progressive and comprehensive digital marketing with proven effectiveness in customer service. Our training, hiring, and execution practices make us complete partners with our clients. Connect with RDI/A or RDI-Connect to learn more, and we invite you to read our white paper, The Perfect Circle: How Customer Service and Marketing Are the Same Thing which discusses even more ways that the two sides can complement and improve each other.  

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RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.