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Siri and Alexa struggle with your questions about detergent and cheese

Siri and Alexa struggle with your questions about detergent and cheese
[Photo: Jan Antonin Kolar/Unsplash]

Voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant can do all kinds of useful things, from playing music and creating reminders to controlling lights and thermostats, but they still have some major blind spots. A new study by Forrester Research has found that when asked “commercial questions,” all the major voice assistants struggle to respond.

[Image: courtesy of Forrester Research]
By “commercial questions,” Forrester is referring to queries like, “What are the best places for lodging in Vermont?” “What type of shredded cheese should I use for this recipe?” “Where can I buy liquid laundry detergent today?” and “How do I open a savings account?”

Forrester asked each voice assistant 180 questions like these, but only received satisfactory answers 35% of the time, on average. In many cases, the voice assistants directed users to an internet search for more information, dropped the ball on follow-up queries, gave overly long responses, or simply failed to understand the question. (Google Assistant did slightly better than average overall, while Microsoft’s Cortana, Siri, and Alexa all fared worse.)

For brands looking to get mentioned by the likes of Alexa and Siri, Forrester says to keep targeting other marketing avenues that can trickle into voice searches. Hospitality companies with strong Yelp and Google Reviews scores, for instance, can lead to mentions by Siri and Google Assistant, while solid SEO can help for finance and insurance companies.

As for consumers, the takeaway might be to keep using a phone or computer for most of your product research.

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