Call for Papers: Rise of Voice Conversation Capabilities in Smart Service Systems
Submission open: October 1, 2023
Virtual thought-leader workshop: November 27, 2023
Submission deadline: January 31, 2024
Service providers increasingly put in place smart products to improve the service encounter and enhance the experience of every involved actor (i.e., customers, employees, …), giving rise to smart service systems (Beverungen et al., 2019; Lim & Maglio, 2018). To facilitate the integration of the different actors in these smart service systems, advancements in language processing and speech recognition increasingly allow “voice” as a mode of operation (Grewal et al., 2022). As a result, smart service systems with voice capabilities are now able to interpret human speech and respond via synthesized voices – Amazon’s Alexa and Alibaba’s Ali Genie are examples of such systems (Guha et al., 2022). Notably, the voice capabilities of these smart service systems – also referred to as smart voice services, (smart) voice assistants, and conversational agents – can range from rather simplistic voice commands to sophisticated interactions that resemble human-like conversations. Voice thus has the potential to become a primary mode of operation for various tasks. Indeed, various researchers consider voice as a key operation form in the future, because smart services via voice commands offer an intuitive, verbal way of interacting with technical devices without haptic contacts (Grewal et al., 2022; Van Pinxteren et al., 2020). Accordingly, the market of voice technology and, thus, smart voice services is expected to grow to USD 37 billion by 2026 with already 8 million smart speakers with digital voice assistants in use by 2024 (Statista, 2022).
While (AI-based) voice assistants are most prominently used in smartphones and smart speakers, they are also becoming more ubiquitous in other technological applications in various sectors (Metrock, 2019; Van Pinxteren et al., 2020). For example, voice can allow to control smart home or smart appliances as well as enable interactions with service systems, such as service robots. As such, a smart lawn mower can have the possibility to guide a consumer step-by-step through an oil exchange. The healthcare system is also quickly adopting voice capabilities, for instance, to assist not only care providers but also elderly or disabled patients. An illustration concerns a smart voice service that offers personalized health advice (Bahmani et al., 2022). Voice dominant interactions can thus even foster inclusivity of vulnerable groups. Potentially moving our digital – text-based – world today toward an even more equal participation of people as widely called upon by (transformative) service research (Henkel et al. 2020; Puntoni et al. 2021; Ostrom et al., 2021).
Despite the significant and rapid advancement of the voice capabilities of smart service systems, consumers still differ in their adoption: Whereas some consumers instantly use smart voice services, others avoid them altogether (Guha et al., 2022). As a result of these mixed reactions, Amazon Alexa still states loss of $10 billion (Naughton, 2022). This highlights that companies are still challenged to develop successful business models based on voice capabilities (Van Pinxteren et al., 2020). Beyond smart products such as smart speakers, companies can create and utilize applications, such as Alexa skills and Google actions, to (re-)design their services based on voice interactions. Think of smart voice service that can book reservations and even answer dietary questions in a restaurant or even a smart voice service that asks you questions to help pick the optimal book in (online) stores. With the emergence of such voice systems, their linguistic properties become more relevant and challenge brands to incorporate voice as another channel in their marketing strategies (Hildebrand et al., 2020). One prominent branding example is the linguistic construction of a voice assistant that matches its parent brand. Vernuccio et al. (2021), for example, demonstrate how to develop voice-based branding for the digital voice assistant Mercedes cars.
Against this background, this special issue seeks to understand and potentially remedy the drivers of these phenomena as well as inspire further research discussions and business ideas regarding smart service systems with voice capabilities in myriad industry sectors. Beyond the adoption of smart voice services and their consumer implications (e.g., emotional, psychological, and social), the special issue discusses the impact of smart service systems with voice capabilities.
By providing a deeper understanding of smart voice services, the special issue aims to contribute to the research field of smart service systems with a particular focus on voice capabilities. We invite conceptual, empirical, and experimental articles that provide novel contributions for service research in this domain. We particularly encourage multidisciplinary research projects (e.g., projects building on communication, computer science, design, linguistics and other areas) as well as data from diverse sources (e.g., secondary data, laboratory and field experiments, neurophysiological data, performance-related data, ethnographic work).
Research topics and questions of interest for this special issue include, but are not limited to:
- What added value do Smart Voice Services provide?
- What drives adoption of Smart Voice Services?
- How do Voice Capabilities automate which type of service encounters?
- How does Smart Voice create business applications?
- What are key contingency in Smart Voice Services?
- How to integrating Smart Voice Services in service encounters?
- What are key metrics for Smart Voice interactions?
- Is there managerial impact of Smart Voice Service?
- How do companies monetize Smart Voice Services in the virtual world?
- What are potentials and boundaries for selling through Voice Assistants?
- How do service failures affect Smart Voice Interactions?
- How do distinct ecosystems of smart voice system emerge?
- How do Smart Voice Interactions contribute to service recovery strategies?
- What are key avenues for Voice Commerce?
- Which Voice features and properties contribute to ?
- What are key Voice Interactions along the customer journey?
- How do Voice Services (re-)shape the service frontline?
- How do smart voice systems shape user experiences?
- What are privacy, security and ethical implications of voice systems?
- How are voice services integrated with other technologies?
- How do linguistic properties, humanlikeness, natural language processing capabilities and voice recognition determine the customer experience of smart voice services?
- How can smart voice systems support the research and understanding of the “voice-of the-customer” during service encounters?
- Can voice-based assistant drive the inclusion of users with limited capabilities?
- What is the role of smart voice assistants in smart service systems?
- How do smart voice services operate as an actor in smart service systems?
- How do personalized linguistics of smart voice services affect user experience?
- How can actors (e.g., customers, employees, organizations) engage with smart voice assistants in smart service systems?
Business Applications, Digital Assistants, Digital Innovations, Service Encounter, Smart Services, Smart Service Systems, Conversational Agents, Voice, Voice Control, Voice Features.
Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.
Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see here.
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.
Virtual workshop (optional):
Authors that are selected after the initial submission will be invited to present their work at a virtual thought-leader workshop organized by the special issue editors. The workshop will take place November 27 2023 and will allow aligning the contributions of the individual manuscripts with objectives of the special issue. All papers will undergo the standard double-blind review process.
Authoritative contextualizing review article by an accepted expert in the field:
We suggest a systematic review article that gives a status quo of the current literature, maps research paths/groups, and offers reflections about future research avenues.
Carsten D. Schultz, University of Hagen
Bieke Henkens, Ghent University
Dominik Mahr, Maastricht University
Arne De Keyser, EDHEC Business School
For questions, please email.