Voice user interfaces for the most people mean smart speakers that turn a regular home into a fun sci-fi inspired command center. And while these smart speakers are fun and popular, one thing that doesn't come to mind when thinking about them is improved workforce efficiency.
However, voice features should not be primarily thought as a smart home gimmick. For smaller and larger corporations alike, they can be a great way to improve employee efficiency in all industries and domains.
Voice user interfaces can improve workforce efficiency by making data collection easier and faster. They can also help professionals in logistics, factories and workshops control equipments and machinery easier and safer.
Improved data quality brings clear benefits
Back in the days before computers, most professionals reported by using paper and pen. This works well for short durations and small amounts of data. However, the demand for more and better data has increased tremendously and data has become a key driver for many industries.
The better the data quality is, the bigger the benefit is. Let's consider a maintenance operation in a factory that is in charge of keeping all the machines up and running. The main objective for them is to report and fix the broken equipment as efficiently as possible.
If employees are able to report accurately what was broken, where and how long it took to fix the problem and with what costs, they are able to learn and improve their processes. With data, they'll be able to maintain the equipment in a way that is cheaper and more efficient.
The number one thing that enables them to get good and accurate data is quick and efficient data collection, preferably right on the spot where their employees are working. Voice input can be up to four times faster than typing on a touch screen. This means that employees using voice instead of touch are able to input four times more data or spend one fourth of the time they would otherwise spend on data collection.
Voice user interfaces can be used when maintenance personnel are crouching in hard-to-reach areas, while sales people are driving back from a sales meeting or while a forklift operator is collecting pallets. If they would choose to type, the data collection would be delayed and hence the quality of the data would be decreased.
Repetitive and information-heavy tasks
Inputting data to a CRM is a repetitive and information-heavy task that can be made more efficient with a voice UI
A majority of professionals spend a big chunk of their day filling out the same form or application. However, the specific information they fill into these forms is very important.
Let's consider a real estate agent. When they get a new customer, they'll typically fill in some kind of form that asks for the property type, asking price, name of the customer and other relevant information. This is only the first form in a long list of forms that goes along with the real estate industry. An average realtor can have up to 30 customers per year, so filling all these forms can become cumbersome. In Florida, for example, realtors have over a hundred different forms they might need for completing a sale.
When they start selling, they'll hopefully get offers and counter offers that also require some data input. After the price has been agreed upon, there can be even more forms about escrow and the list goes on.
An experienced realtor knows all these forms by heart and knows exactly what kind of information they'll need to input, but they still have to go through each of them manually.
This kind of form filling is a part of many professionals daily work. Almost all professionals fill some type of sales document, anomaly report, review, or daily reports and almost no one enjoys it. Still, getting them right is of immense value to the business.
By enhancing CRM's, ERP's and other professional systems with voice interface functionalities, this data can be collected faster and with better accuracy.
Accurate and efficient slang makes accurate and efficient user interfaces
One reason why a voice interface is a great solution for professional use is that in many areas of expertise there's a very specific lingo that everyone is familiar with using
For instance "primp beemer" might not mean much to most of us, but in a doctor lingo it would mean a woman who is pregnant for the first time and is obese.
This kind of slang has evolved just because it is important for professionals in any domain to communicate in an efficient and accurate manner. From a voice user interface perspective, it serves exactly the same purpose and makes building complex voice functionalities a lot simpler than in cases where the context is more open ended and free form.
Let's consider retail business, for example. A consumer looking for the smaller Series 6 Apple Watch with GPS and cellular could ask something like "the new Apple smart watch with mobile data and with the smaller screen" or "Apple Watch Series 6 40mm cellural". However, the professional sales person would probably refer to it as "Watch6,3" – the official identifier code for the said device or by product code "M0DV3", if they would refer to a specific color.
This is important from a voice user interface perspective because if the context is accurate, it makes the voice functionalities efficient and accurate. It can be difficult to teach the underlying Spoken Language Understanding model to understand all the possible ways a user can refer to a specific product or other phenomena, but it's fairly easy to cover the standard ways professionals refer to the same product or phenomena.
How to evaluate whether voice data entry is a good fit
Voice is a great solution for data entry in almost all cases. If one or more of the following statements is true for you, then voice data entry could be a valuable option for your organization to consider.
- Data is business critical and can create a competitive edge
- Data collection is a repetitive task
- Employees are familiar with the data collection process, eg. they know what kind of data they need to input
- Data collection happens or can happen in the field, rather than at the office
- Data is quantitative and structured rather than qualitative and non structured
- Current data collection processes could be improved
Voice can also be a useful modality for professional apps, if employees are doing repetitive command and control tasks such as in factories, logistics and back office.
Speechly has experience voice-enabling various professional applications in many industries. Our technology can be applied to any web, mobile or desktop application.
Contact our expert to learn more on how your business data entry can be improved by using modern voice interface technologies.