Convrg’s Audrey Wu on AI-voice for brands: Being heard will not be near enough

Fri, Nov 22, 2019

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Consumers are already using voice, but there's more to the technological transition than merely being present in their voice searches. How will your company form relationships after being heard? Learn more from Convrg's Audrey Wu.

Convrg’s Audrey Wu on AI-voice for brands:   Being heard will not be near enough

The question of AI-voice in commerce is not whether, but when.

Which means those entrusted with retail and CPG brand performance are now figuring out the where, the how, and the why of this increasingly important technology.

Meet Audrey Wu. She’s the co-founder and CEO of Convrg, a Los Angeles based AI-voice and messaging company. Convrg has built voice experiences and chatbots for brands such as Estee Lauder, Sephora, Aveda, and the GRAMMY Awards. Before forming Convrg, she headed Imperson Studios, creating AI chatbots for Disney, Lionsgate, and Amazon.

In doing so, she’s become an explorer of the ways to win customer attention and interaction using a nascent technology. In doing so, she’s also a teacher—offering insights to clients as to what works, what doesn’t, and where value can be created through voice. Don’t miss her great Advertising Age blogs on voice to learn more about her insight into AI-voice.

Let’s listen to Audrey:

“We’re in the early days of voice,” Audrey said in a recent interview. “And it’s like the early days of the internet. At the very least you need a presence, because people are starting to reach out to you through voice.”

Wu pointed to the growing numbers of consumers who search via voice (a recent primary study showed some 28 percent of Alexa owners searching for products via voice on a regular basis), and the accelerating integration of AI-voice platforms into a wide range of devices.

“This is an important matter of voice SEO,” she said. “Will you be among the first to be experienced by voice? Or, will you not be on the list?”

“That’s monetizable value.”

Other monetizable value is most likely found today in the awareness, consideration, and post-sale service phases of the path to purchase. With the caveat that each brand is different, Audrey pointed immediately to the use of AI-voice chatbots in customer service.

“This is the lowest-hanging fruit,” she said. “There are a group of questions that are regularly asked and answered, and it’s a great opportunity for automation. Not only can you eliminate redundant work, but with AI-voice, you no longer have the risk of different answers to the same question just because someone’s having a bad day.”

In addition to post-sale service, Audrey sees significant opportunities—based upon her work in the beauty segment—in the provision of a broad range of voice-based brand content, including bot-enabled how-to tutorials and product recommendations.

It will be the content that wins. Audrey sees clearly that AI-voice in consumer-facing industries will be more than presence, and more than product search. And more than voicebot-based responses as to availability and ship dates. For her client The GRAMMYs, Audrey and team developed an interactive voice-based trivia game, music news tidbits, and artist sound-bites. For a brand such as Estee Lauder, they created a voice skill that delivers product recommendations and guided meditation. The takeaway: once consumers connect via voice, the opportunity for the brand to connect, interact, and bring consumers back will dramatically expand.

Visuals + voice = powerful messaging. Given the brand-building potential of value-added content, the combination of visuals with voice is an exciting prospect for voice developers.

“There’s such a great potential,” Audrey said, citing Google with corporate fellow YouTube, and the roll-out of Google Hub and Echo Show.

One size does not fit all. Though bot-based post-sale support may be the low-hanging fruit, every brand voice will be different. And according to Audrey, it’s just not the inflection and tone of the brand voice and personality—as important (and challenging) as that development might be. It’s also working in detail to create a brand-expressive conversational flow, and more importantly, creating the content that differentiates the brand and brings the listeners back.

Manage expectations. There will be those on the client side, Audrey explained, who will expect voice to immediately turn customer conversations into transactions.

“Just because you have KPIs,” she sighed, “doesn’t mean the consumer is going to be using voice in a way that meets your KPIs.” Clearly, consumers are using voice, and there’s value in connecting with consumers. “It’s a matter,” she said, “of being clear as to where and how that value will be created today.”

And analyze, analyze, analyze. What conversational paths do they follow? What do they explore? Abandon? What brings return and re-use?

“It’s a new technology,” Audrey laughed, “but we use Dashbot, a chatbot analytics company, to understand performance.”

You can find Audrey at, and on LinkedIn.

Voice in commerce. Can you hear it coming?

#OpenVoiceNetwork #ConversationalCommerce #MITOpenVoice #AudreyWu #Convrg