Commentary

Beyond Siri

In 2012, Nick Bilton reported that the romance between Siri and her users may have soured. Two years later, I think we can definitively say that Siri has been a disappointment for Apple and its millions of iPhone users. In fact, 46% of iOS7 users said that Apple “oversold” Siri’s voice recognition capabilities and 84% of iOS7 users don’t even use this feature.

So why is Apple still investing in voice? At the Worldwide Developers Conference, it became clear that the company recognizes the value of voice in driving a great experience for consumers. The theme of Apple’s updated operating system for Mac, OSX Yosemite, is “continuity” — a ripe concept at a time when our daily routines are scattered across devices and mediums. 

The new continuity features create a single experience that moves with you among your desktop, laptop, iPhone or iPad. Whether you’re sending an email, thumbing a text or shopping online, you can instantly switch devices and pick up where you left off. You can now make and receive phone calls right from your Mac. When your iPhone is in range, you can choose to accept or decline calls from your computer as it syncs with your iPhone contacts. You can even dial directly from webpages on your computer. 

Apple clearly recognizes the importance of phone calls and voice interactions in our daily lives, and they’re making it easy to connect however we want. Here are three implications for marketers: 

      With Apple extending call capabilities to their desktop devices, the writing is on the wall - consumers are reverting back to human-to-human voice conversations over online-only interactions. In fact, by 2018, BIA/Kelsey expects that mobile search will generate 73 billion calls. What’s more, conversions from local, mobile search happen over the phone 39% more often than they do online, according to a study by comScore, Neustar Localeze and agency 15 Miles

      The explosion of smartphones has allowed consumers to connect anytime, anywhere. The notion of unplugging has died. Marketers can engage their audience through email, SMS, apps, search and social. Phone calls to business have also increased as mobile consumers easily hop from online to offline interactions with the tap of a click-to-call button. According to Google, 70% of all mobile searchers have used the call button to connect directly with a business from the search results page. 

      Consumers will increasingly transcend digital channels when making purchases — especially if it’s for something expensive or complex like an insurance plan or a financial product. But too often, marketers are blind to offline interactions. They are tracking website visits, click-through-rates, conversion rates, social shares and content downloads tracked, but as soon as a consumer picks up the phone, all visibility is lost. Today’s marketers face the challenge of not only creating seamless, omni-channel customer experiences, but also tracking the customer journey, no matter where it leads.

Consumers are now more empowered to connect through phone calls, and the flood of calls from emails, search, social and website visits will continue to pour in. 

Apple has made phone calls cooler. We’ll forgive them for Siri.

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