Voice Summit 2021: Keynote with Steve Pierce, Digital Portfolio Manager for McDonald's UK

Presented by Hey Google and sponsored in part by Blutag, this year's VOICE Global event was quite significant due to the industry's breakout success. Between 2020 and 2026, the global speech recognition industry is expected to grow from $10.7 billion to $28.3 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 16.8% anticipated during that period.

Every day more and more consumers are turning to voice technologies to order Big Macs and solve their most pressing day-to-day challenges. As Steve Pierce, Digital Portfolio Manager for McDonald's UK, described, developers still have challenges to overcome when it comes to delivering a seamless voice-powered shopping experience that can match the same exchange using mobile devices or taking place in-person inside a Mcdonald's franchise location.

Voice technology is improving all of the time, and one of the most exciting things about innovation across the industry is how much power businesses have to develop their own tailor-made voice-powered interfaces to appeal to their target audiences. According to Steve Pierce of McDonald's UK, the future of voice technology for quick service restaurants (QSR) hinges on providing consumers with a fast and streamlined shopping experience that adds value without adding unnecessary complications.

McDonald's has been an industry leader when it comes to rolling out new technologies. Since 2016, when the fast-food giant first unveiled touchscreen kiosks across its retail locations, the brand has found that consumers spend roughly 6% more when using the devices. This uptick is compounded when the labor cost savings of the devices are factored in. Decision-makers like Pierce believe that investing heavily in voice technology interfaces will be instrumental in driving increased profits and cost savings in the years to come.

McDonald's is investing heavily in the future voice to make it easier for its customers to love their products and gravitate towards their brand.

Enhancing User Experience is the Key to Ensuring Customers Continue Loving Voice-Powered Interfaces

Currently, Steve Pierce is responsible for the successful operations of the My McDonald's mobile application, cashless and digital payments, offers/vouchers/loyalty programs, and adobe campaign standards, though previously he was responsible for the rollout of touchscreen kiosks across United Kingdom retail locations. Over his last 13 years with the company, Pierce has played an instrumental role in helping the QSR industry leader maintain its foothold and gain increased customers in the lucrative UK market.

During his keynote presentation at VOICE Global 2021, Pierce highlighted the immense success of the My McDonald's app while also lamenting some of the most pressing challenges facing the proliferation of voice technologies for retail brands. In his view, voice-powered interfaces contained within digital products such as the My McDonald's mobile application complement the first-class user experience that customers can enjoy by stopping into a McDonald's franchise and communicating with staff.

In this way, Pierce believes that the key to the success of voice technologies for his brand is being driven by the ability for consumers to move beyond completing simple natural language queries. From "I want to order a Big Mac" to delivering the same customer-centric experience users can enjoy by either browsing a menu site online or speaking with a sales representative inside a franchise location.

For Pierce, it is not enough to handle simplistic requests. Still, it should be the goal of voice technology developers everywhere to design user interfaces that allow users to complete complex operations without the need to switch to a mobile device or computer at all. Currently, most voice-powered retail operations at McDonald's take place with the assistance of extra screens, whether on consumer electronic devices or the touchscreen kiosks found inside stores. In the future, voice technologies will be so sophisticated that users will not need visual information to complete more complex and nuanced actions.

Right now, voice technology can no longer be said to be in its infancy. The core speech recognition technologies as we know them today can all be traced back to the groundbreaking research conducted between the US Department of Defense and Carnegie Mellon University back in 1976. However, for as much utility as the platforms offer to retailers today, there is still much work to develop a truly unforgettable user experience that adds value, convenience, and fun to consumers' lives.

While there is still ground left to be covered, it's exciting to watch as the world's most successful global brands, such as McDonald's, work aggressively to deliver new voice-powered interfaces for customers. The future of voice technologies is bright. Thanks to the hard work undertaken by industry leaders, every day we get closer to delivering a voice-powered user experience that mimics the interactive way people shop when using personal devices or browsing inside stores.

Design a Low-Code Voice-Powered Interface for Your Website Today

Blutag is proud to work with industry leaders to develop the next generation of voice-powered retail technologies. Every day our platforms become more advanced and capable of delivering a world-class user experience. Don't get left behind - allow our team to develop a low-code voice-powered interface for your brand.

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