It’s hard to make generalizations about business. Every company is unique. Every niche, every market, and every era carries its own challenges. But across industries—and across time—one proposal holds true: Businesses succeed when they provide consistently great customer experiences.
Great customer experiences depend on customer expectations, however, and those are anything but static. As technology evolves, so do public preferences for engaging with brands. The pace of this change has never been faster than it is today.
To keep customers happy as their expectations evolve, invest in technology that improves user experiences across touchpoints, from websites to mobile apps to a new generation of AI bots. Text to speech (TTS) is one of these vital technologies.
Of course, TTS itself isn’t exactly new. Synthetic speech dates back decades. ReadSpeaker itself has been on the cutting edge of voice technology for more than 20 years, and today offers AI voices with lifelike quality. But what’s really changed is the broader digital ecosystem—and the expectations of the people who use it.
Voice Computing Showcases the Benefits of Text to Speech
Just as keyboards and mouses gave way to touchscreens in the 2010s, voice user interfaces—and the conversational interactions they provide—are surging into the mainstream today. You see the new voice paradigm in the rise of voice assistants, used by about half the population as of 2022. You see it in the popularity of smart home devices, used by over half of U.S. adults that same year. And you can hear it in a smart speaker near you; these devices went from zero to nearly 95 million users between 2014 and 2022.
Already, digital voice interactions are driving the growth of new digital spaces like the metaverse and augmented reality. But good business decisions don’t just follow tech trends. New investments must pay off with benefits that drive quick returns. Text to speech does. To show how, here are just 10 of the dozens of TTS benefits, covering everything from brand affinity to corporate learning.
Struggling with ineffective corporate learning materials? Try engaging your staff with the power of voice. Download our complimentary e-book, Boost Corporate Learning Success With Text to Speech, to learn more.
10 Business Advantages Text to Speech Provides
1. Access to a Broader, More Diverse Audience
One of the original uses of TTS was the elimination of accessibility barriers. That’s still true. Text to speech opens doors for people with disabilities, second-language learners, and older adults struggling with increasingly complicated user interfaces, just to name a few. But the benefits of TTS go further than regulatory compliance or even ethics. Voice technology is also crucial for growing your customer base—and TTS expands access for more users than you might think.
In the U.S. alone, more than a quarter of adults have a disability. The number of people over 65 grew by more than a third between 2010 and 2020. And the percentage of those who speak a language other than English at home grew by more than 50% since 2000. Leaving these populations behind limits your market to a tiny sliver of the possible whole—and that’s just part of the story. Text to speech brings content to all sorts of new audiences. For example:
- In the public, nonprofit, and media sectors, TTS is helping organizations reach groups with low literacy rates.
- For education providers, TTS helps with managing budgets and resources, particularly for accommodations; rather than asking a teacher to read content aloud, the TTS handles the task. (Learn more about the benefits of TTS in education.)
- In nations with many regional dialects and languages, TTS opens access to a broader range of communities. (See below for one example.)
- For consumer-facing brands, TTS meets a new generation’s preferences for consuming content.
This last bullet point deserves a deeper look. In a 2022 survey, 70% of respondents aged 18 to 25 said they view content with simultaneous audio and captioning “most of the time.” Something similar is occurring with TTS, as evidenced by social media trends.
Tik Tok users quickly integrated the platform’s TTS feature into their posts, often in surprising, creative ways. Instagram added a similar TTS feature to its toolset in November 2021. Brands began to take notice: By October 2022, Disney Parks was partnering with Tik Tok to offer branded TTS character voices for user-generated clips.
These trends suggest that Gen Z is at home with TTS, and expects to see the feature wherever they consume content. It also suggests brands must expand the meaning of “inclusion” to truly include everyone: the youngest to the oldest, with and without disabilities, across language groups, from every corner of the globe.
In short: Inclusion is good for business, and TTS is good for inclusion.
Mmegi, Botswana’s Independent News Leader, Reaches New Audiences With ReadSpeaker TTS
When the pandemic forced Botswana’s leading news source, Mmegi, to go fully digital, the publisher didn’t want to leave anyone behind.
“As a news company, we wished not to discriminate, but rather accommodate all groups of people so that they can access our news,” said Rebaone Mkandla, Mmegi’s webmaster. “This includes people who have reading difficulties or have any kind of disability.”
Mmegi added ReadSpeaker TTS to its website, and quickly saw the audience expand to include previously hard-to-reach Botswana (that’s the plural form for people from Botswana; singular is Motswana).
“Our ReadSpeaker TTS usage statistics indicate a growing number of people utilizing the tool,” said Mkandla. “This has broadened our audience, as users who are disabled or have difficulties with reading now can take part of our news, as well.”
As ReadSpeaker continues to develop TTS voices in African languages, Mmegi expects to grow its media footprint even further—and celebrate the nation’s indiginous cultures.
“TTS in African regional dialects and languages can help preserve the cultural richness that comes with language,” Mkandla said. “It can also help target audiences in rural areas who are limited to accessing information and content in languages other than their own.”
2. More Satisfying—and Productive—Customer Service Automation
Conversational AI is finally delivering on the promise of interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Gone are the long hold times, frustrating menus, and paltry containment rates. But to provide an automated customer service system that actually satisfies callers, you need a pleasant, lifelike TTS voice.
Neural TTS voices from ReadSpeaker sound warm and natural. They offer emotional expression that puts callers at ease. They’re even available in multiple languages.
Customer Service TTS Example 1: Beth
Customer Service TTS Example 2: Paul
In an IVR system, that all adds up to lower costs, happier customers, and a truly scalable customer service solution—at contact centers as well as websites, mobile apps, and even tech-supported in-person interactions. (See example below.)
Bank of Beirut Broadens Access to Customer Service With ReadSpeaker TTS
Lebanon’s Bank of Beirut serves a wide customer base with more than 77 branches. But some account owners struggled to access customer service features, both online and at the branch.
ReadSpeaker TTS solutions helped the bank bring those services to customers with vision loss, dyslexia, and low literacy—as well as the less technologically inclined. Customers can now hear banking information online and through the bank’s mobile app. And in person, ReadSpeaker gives Bank of Beirut’s customers the choice to listen to contracts, rights, and other banking documents right there at the desk.
3. Agile, Affordable Media Production
Every company manages content, and that content reaches a broader audience with speech than with text alone. Without TTS, you’re left paying top dollar for voice actors to record your scripts. When you update your content, you have to pay all over again—not just in cash, but in time and labor, too.
Text to speech production tools allow you to update content on your own, so you can easily keep your messaging up to date. It also saves you the substantial cost of voice actors, recording studios, and engineers.
4. Instant Brand Recognition Across Digital Channels
ReadSpeaker doesn’t just offer lifelike TTS voices. We’ll also work with you to build a new synthetic voice. That includes custom TTS voices that are ideal for your unique markets. It also includes a singular branded TTS voice, just for your company.
When you use a familiar, recognizable voice across all your voice channels, customers identify your brand the second they hear it. You present the same brand personality across a growing range of voice channels. With a branded TTS voice from ReadSpeaker, your brand shows up everywhere.
Bol.com Furthers Voice Strategy With a Branded TTS Voice from ReadSpeaker
If you shop online in the Netherlands or Belgium, you probably shop at Learn more in the full case study. Seeing the rise of voice user interfaces, this top e-commerce outlet made a wise investment in brand consistency.
Bol.com worked with ReadSpeaker to develop an original, branded TTS voice, specially calibrated to resonate with the company’s audience. This voice now brings brand recognition to a variety of digital spaces, from Google Assistant to vendor sites that partner with Bol.com. Wherever it shows up, this audio-branding asset now immediately identifies Bol.com as the speaker—and its warm, lifelike sound welcomes customers wherever they engage.
5. Consistent Brand Engagements
To be effective, branding must be consistent. In the visual domain, you use the same logo, color scheme, and style guidelines. A branded TTS voice provides the same consistency in audio channels.
6. Better Outcomes for Corporate Learning Programs
Everyone learns differently. Some prefer to read content. Others retain more when they hear it. Many do best with bimodal presentation, in which materials are delivered by text and speech simultaneously. Text to speech offers an affordable way to provide auditory and bimodal options to employees, thereby improving learning outcomes with every new module.
That’s particularly important as workforces grow more diverse. Employees may not speak the same languages. They may have vision impairment or learning disabilities. They might have different levels of literacy. With TTS in your corporate learning management system, you ensure equal access to all.
7. Stronger Internal Communication—And Employee Satisfaction
A diverse workforce requires diverse means of communication—and strong corporate communication is essential for keeping goals and methods aligned, company-wide. Text to speech gives every employee the chance to listen, read, or both. That keeps information flowing for everyone, which helps to eliminate workplace frustration, creating better conditions for employee satisfaction and engagement.
Higher employee satisfaction also leads directly to another powerful benefit—one that’s grown increasingly crucial as labor markets tightened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
8. Improved Staff Retention Rates
By August of 2022, there were more than 10 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. That month, there were less than 6 million unemployed people looking for work. For many companies, that meant the only way to fill a position was to hire someone away from an existing job. Unsurprisingly, hiring became an increasingly difficult task.
Regardless of broader market trends, however, it’s almost always more cost-effective to keep the staff you have than to hire a new employee. As we’ve noted, TTS can improve the effectiveness of both corporate learning and internal communications. That contributes to greater employee satisfaction, which leads to higher staff retention rates.
9. More Personalized Interactions with Customers
Representation matters, and with ReadSpeaker’s vast and growing library of TTS voices, you can provide AI speech that matches your audience’s language, dialect, and speaking styles with precision. Don’t see your markets represented in our current TTS offerings? Reach out to discuss a custom TTS creation.
MSC Cruises Welcomes International Guests With Multilingual TTS
As people increasingly grow accustomed to using virtual assistants in day-to-day life, global cruise company MSC has decided to bring the service to its fleet. The result is Zoe, the world’s first on-board virtual assistant for a cruise ship.
Guests can ask Zoe about on-board services or advice about the ship’s restaurants. They can even book activities through conversation with Zoe. Machine learning helped Zoe’s designers come up with helpful, accurate new responses to more than 800 frequently asked questions—with more, presumably, on the way.
But MSC guests come from all over the world. To preserve brand consistency, Zoe needed to speak many languages in the same lifelike TTS voice. ReadSpeaker’s multilingual TTS currently allows Zoe to speak seven languages, including English, Spanish, and Mandarin, all with friendly, emotionally expressive speaking styles.
10. Better Corporate Reputation
When the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) conducted an expansive research study on video game accessibility, researchers uncovered a broader truth about corporate reputation.
“We found that 95% of respondents across the board said that they think better of a developer for having accessibility in their games,” said John Paton, RNIB’s innovation and technology officer—and a co-author of the study.
What’s true for the gaming industry is probably true for your sector, as well. People tend to think better of companies that work to improve accessibility. By offering TTS options to employees and customers alike, you demonstrate a real commitment to inclusivity—and that can translate into a better reputation among consumers.
Ultimately, the benefits of text to speech boil down to two things: Better customer experiences and more efficient business operations.
Ready to bring these advantages to your operation? Contact the TTS experts at ReadSpeaker to start the conversation.