Why Amazon Wants You To Ask For Business Opening Hours

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Yext announced a partnership with Amazon Alexa where businesses will be able to feed their digital information directly into Alexa via the Yext Knowledge Engine. Handy, but right now most people aren’t using Alexa and devices like Google Home for this reason based on most research out there (when pressed on this point, Yext provided the data below).

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Jon Buss, Managing Director UK & Northern Europe at Yext; ” With accurate information, you are more likely to maintain an informed and happy customer base, and enhance brand reputation. Getting this everyday information right is a vital first test for businesses as we migrate to voice. From here, the path forward opens up for businesses to pioneer new uses and functions through voice to enhance the customer experience.”

Yext is empowering small business to own their data which is no bad thing. Research published by BrightLocal suggests 93% of consumers are frustrated when they come across incorrect business information online, and 80% lose trust in businesses that show inaccurate details online. ‘New uses and functions’ that Buss implies can break offline businesses, ruin margins and cause other issues as well as have positive effects. The play for small businesses here is to clean up their data online and hope that more business comes through Alexa and pals.

Realistically speaking, asking for offline outlet opening hours information does not have to be a killer feature for Amazon. Users who do choose to use this function are giving Amazon more data on what business to become in the future. Getting users to ask Alexa rather than use their smartphone could tell Amazon; what products to put in different warehouses, what restaurants to do deals with next, what entertainment you enjoy outside of video content, when you get your hair cut and generally a lot more data around the sort of person you (or perhaps aspire to be). A smart data play. Opening hours could also prompt Amazon to suggest a more convenient alternative or offer money off to buy through Amazon. The sound you are hearing is cash registers at Amazon HQ.

Recent data and leaks suggest that people are still not using the higher functions that Alexa and pals can do (purchase, scheduling, service ordering). Time will undoubtedly change this (along with UX tweaks) but also because it is pretty critical that Google and Amazon get this right or both companies have poured a ton of money putting fart noise machines into homes. If users don’t purchase items using the devices or provide extra data points above musical tastes or a penchant for low-value apps, voice may remain a ‘nice to have’ instead of the critical invention many believe it will be.

Google will enter the voice + screen industry with a new large-screen device later this year that may prove to be the killer combination for the kitchen or bedroom. Right now both companies are suffering trust and image issues based on where they came from and where they want to go in the future. Consumers are data cows that Amazon, Google and pals milk to turn into cash in varying ways. The future of voice is very much anyone’s game to win right now. Deals like the one Yext has done gives businesses a cloaked opportunity. Get your customers – or potential customers – to use a device that is designed by companies who may or may not have your best interests at heart.

Paul founded HERE/FORTH, an emerging technology advisory, is the author of ‘Disruptive Technologies’ and can be found tweeting over at @paul__armstrong.

Paul runs a technology advisory business called HERE/FORTH. Follow him on Twitter @paul__armstrong. His first book, ‘Disruptive Technologies’, is available now.

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