LAS VEGAS: Nestlé, the food and beverage company, is putting the customer service experience at the heart of its efforts to tap the burgeoning power of voice technology.

Pete Blackshaw, Global Head/Digital Innovation & Service Models at Nestlé, discussed this subject during the Medialink + CDX Brand Innovation Salon at CES 2018.

“At a broad level, voice, chatbots, smart assistants, smart kitchens – they all fall into what I call the ‘concierge economy’,” he said. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: Nestlé’s Blackshaw spreads the word on voice technology.)

Drilling down into this topic, he asserted that brands must base their activations around consumers, rather than focusing primarily on technological capabilities.

“How do you provide a reinvigorated customer service experience for consumers?” he asked. “I think voice falls into that: It’s both utility and it’s entertainment. And, for us, it’s a potential service layer that sits on top of our brand.”

Nestlé’s activity in this space to date has incorporated the launch of a “Skill” for Amazon Echo, some tests of Google Home and a tie-up with, the Chinese e-commerce retailer.

And for Blackshaw, the best advice for marketers seeking to undertake similar efforts must link back to the end user. “We all need to go back to the basics of customer service,” he said.

If a brand custodian at Nestlé is interested in using voice technology – or related tools like chatbots – he poses them a simple challenge: “Can you tell me the top five questions that consumers ask you through the call centre or through email?”

“Half the time,” he continued “they don’t know the answer. And I send them back and say, ‘You’ve got to know these things’ … And we’ve learned a lot.

“If you look at our call-centre databases, you find a lot of unclaimed territory – questions that people are asking – and think, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s my idea for Alexa’ or ‘Oh my gosh, that’s exactly what I need to do for chatbots.’”

Sourced from WARC