A lot of well-established retail and FMCG brands deal with the same problems.

When you look at Tchibo, you'll see a big brand with established brick-and-mortar stores and offline distribution channels. On the other hand, you'll see a brand that's working hard to sell more of their product online and also attract younger customer base. The other thing is that once the customer makes a purchase, some of them may require support related to their orders. On a bigger scale, that's a huge amount of time and money for the company.

Voice Assistants

Looking at current trends in the digital space, there's a great opportunity for voice assistants to tackle these problems.

They're taking the market by the storm. We're seeing extremely quick adoption of smartspeakers, that bring voice assistants technology to people's homes.

For a lot of people who didn't grow up with smartphones in their hands, using voice is becoming the preferred way to interact with technology. After all, there's nothing more natural than speaking.

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What's even better is that Google Assistant is available out of the box on modern Android smartphones. All the customer has to do, is to press the home button for 2 seconds or say "Ok Google".

All of these combined bring great opportunities for leveraging voice assistants in solving problems.

Meet Thomas Tchibo

Thomas is your personal barista, who lives in your smartphone or in the smartspeaker in your kitchen. He's just like the barista you know from the coffee shop, but you can talk to him anytime.

Imagine that you're in your kitchen and you've just ran out of coffee. Instead of going to a supermarket to buy more, you can simply ask Thomas:

By personalizing the experience, we can simplify the checkout process to a minimum.

Customer: Ask Thomas Tchibo to send me the regular coffee.
Thomas: Okay, a XXXX, delivered to XXX Straße in Hamburg, correct?
Customer: That's correct.
Thomas: That will be 19Euro. Should I use the credit card that you have saved in your Google Assistant?
Customer: Yes, please.
Thomas: Alright, your package will be on its way soon. Expect it within 3 days.

Linking to loyalty card or online account lets us adapt the reordering process to customer's preferences, skipping unnecessary choices and going right to the checkout.

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The Google Assistant platform also allows us to skip a few checkout steps - we can get customer's address and credit card details from Google Pay, which may be difficult to provide using voice.

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When the customer makes an order, Thomas can also provide first-level support for these orders later.

When 3 days pass and the package is still not at customer's door, they can simply ask Thomas:

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Currently, in that situation many customers would call the support number to ask about the status. Each of these inquiries costs between €3-€5 when an agent handles them. In most big brands, such repetitive requests often account for 70% of customer support calls.

Benefits of Including Voice Assistants in Digital Strategy

Reaching new customer segments via online

Voice assistants bring a whole new level of accessibility: they're easier and more intuitive to use than screen-based devices. With smartspeakers, customers don't even need to open the device as it's always there, ready for their commands. Modern smartphones include dedicated buttons for accessing the assistant. Accessing services by pressing it and saying a sentence is often way faster than clicking through multiple screens.

Because of that, voice assistants are gaining in popularity amongst non digital natives.

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Voice interactions are perfectly fit for simple purchases, especially reordering.When customers already know the product, they don't need to see it before making the decision. Given low price of products like coffee, the risk of purchasing via voice perceived by customer is also low. While voice commerce still accounts for a small amount of online purchases overall, most of purchases made by voice are related to low cost products.

Reducing the strain of customer support

One of the biggest challenges for big brands is processing a large number of customer support inquiries.

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Using voice assistants as a customer support channel gives us strong benefits.Customers who don't feel comfortable with using web or mobile apps (because of the need to type) won't have a problem with using voice based solutions. We can provide them with automated answers for common inquiries, for example by fetching package status from a delivery company when asked about it.

For other requests, we can gather transcriptions of inquiries, analyze them automatically and pass them to specialized agents. By using call back model, agents can reach out to customers when they have all required information in place, which greatly saves time for both parties