Will the current cover situation change our behaviour towards touching screens outside of the home? And can voice technologies play a role in facilitating changing behaviour? read more
Apple acquired voice-specialist conversational AI company, Voysis, recently and how we discovered it was, well timed and kinda funny. read more
For those of you who’ve listened to the podcast, you’ll know that I’m a complete advocate for sonic branding and sound design. Episodes with Joel Beckerman, Eric Seay and Ben McCulloch dive deep into the topic.
And I vlogged recently about the voice branding conundrum and the challenge of having a consistent brand voice that you can use across all channels, not just voice.
However, after speaking with Jon Bloom, Senior Conversation Designer at Google, on the show last week, he got me thinking.
Jon spoke about how Google Assistant already has a persona that you can leverage in your actions.
Leveraging trust in the platforms
Think about it, people are building habits and trust in their digital assistants. People are speaking to Google Assistant every day and investing in its persona.
Brands can leverage the trust that users have, and are building, in their voice assistant by piggybacking on the persona of the assistant.
Adam Cheyer, co-founder of Siri, Viv Labs, and VP R&D at Samsung Mobile, spoke at Project Voice in January about how users want one assistant. Not a million.
Creating applications that use the persona of the assistant, rather than your brand, helps keep in line with this ‘one assistant’ experience.
Changing persona can have negative effects
Changing the voice and persona of your voice applications to something different from the standard persona of the assistant can, in some cases, have a negative effect.
Adva Levin, founder of Pretzel Labs, joined us on the podcast recently to share how to create a brand persona for voice applications. We discussed the value and merit in using voice actors to record dialogue.
The audio quality of recorded dialogue is obviously much better than text-to-speech, and Voicebot found that recorded dialogue has a better effect on call to action retention than text-to-speech.
Even so, when Adva swapped out the standard Alexa voice for recorded dialogue in one of her skills, users were caught off guard, asking ‘what’s happened to Alexa?’
It depends on the experience
I’m still fairly bullish on sonic branding and sound design, yet I’m also convinced that utilising the trust that users already have in their voice assistant and keeping the persona of your app in line with that could be a good idea.
Perhaps it depends on the experience. If you’re creating an interactive story, game or content based experience, then perhaps working on a character is worth it.
However, for service based voice experiences, such as restaurant reservations, taxi bookings and the like, don’t users care more about getting a job done over and above the persona or brand doing it for them?
Peter Nann, Senior Consultant at Cognigy, thinks so. He said “Users don’t care about your branded voice on a daily basis, they just care about getting shit done.”
And “I also don’t want my assistant to behave as a mere receptionist, directing my call to the best ‘expert’. I want to talk to my assistant, who is the expert at everything, and who talks to my bank for me.”
The need for research
All of this is entirely speculative. The truth is, this really needs research. Research to figure out whether users do want one assistant to act on their behalf, with all interactions reflecting the persona of the assistant, or whether they expect each brand to have their own unique persona and branded presence on their assistants.
To collaborate on this research, please reach out.
Spotify is releasing a voice assistant into its app and the result will be an example of voice and screens working together to make user journeys more streamlined.
Jane Manchun Wong, found this screenshot in the Spotify app that reads:
“Hey Spotify. If enabled, Spotify will listen for Hey Spotify when the app is open and on your screen.”
Spotify is working on “Hey Spotify” voice activation pic.twitter.com/PqZI01WZre
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) March 4, 2020
This is where I see huge opportunities for almost every organisation that has any kind of internet or app presence: using voice to streamline customer journeys and make experiences frictionless.
When you’re playing a song in the Spotify app, to switch to a different playlist or a specific song requires quite a bit of clicking.
Your starting position is usually a screen showing the artist hero image and the play/pause button.
From here, you’d have to:
- minimise the currently playing track
- hit the search bar
- type a search (between 3 and, say, 15 taps, depending on who you’re searching for)
- browse the results (more swiping)
- tap a new playlist or track
That’s 5 screens and quite a lot of tapping and swiping.
The Spotify in-app voice assistant will eradicate all of that by letting you just say ‘Hey Spotify, play the Blackbyrds’.
Using voice to streamline a user journey
In this case, voice isn’t the whole deal like with Spotify on Alexa. Voice is simply filling a gap in order to streamline one part of a user journey. It’s just making one interaction simpler.
It’s the same application of voice that we see in TVs, on set top boxes like SkyQ, TiVo or Comcast.
Rather than using the remote to tap your way through the apps or randomly browse through a list hoping to find something interesting, you can say “Find me a funny film” and you’re half way there.
The user need is the same, the journey is also the same, but a chunk of it has been removed thanks to a VUI.
Following the footsteps of mobile
Although I don’t like to compare voice to mobile, there is a parallel here.
When mobile was in its infancy, before it was the main device for accessing the internet, before we built our internal triggers that now have us literally addicted to our devices, before we picked it up 100 times a day, right when that behaviour was being born, we were talking about ‘micro moments’.
People used to use their phone, not constantly throughout the entire day, but sparingly in certain moments: waiting for the train, sitting on a bus, maybe on the toilet, before a meeting.
And we wouldn’t spend 20 minutes at a time on it like we do now, we’d spend 2 or 3.
At that time, brands were clambering to make connections with users during those micro-moments.
Our usage of voice interfaces seem to be travelling the same way as our usage of mobile did, starting with micro moments. Little times throughout the day where a voice interaction makes sense makes a journey more efficient. Not to replace mobile, but to enhance it.
This is something to consider for brands and organisations, when thinking about your customer experience and your customer journey across your touch points, can voice play just a small role in helping the whole overall journey be simpler by filling in those little micro moments?
I’m in Amsterdam today with JP and Jen who are over there looking rather nonchalant not joining me on the escalator, but in Amsterdam in Holland Google, Sorry, Alexa doesn’t exist.
The echo doesn’t exist.
It’s Google Assistant predominantly and I got me thinking about what would you do if those big commercial Voice Assistant platforms just didn’t exist?
Would you do without Google Assistant Siri Alexa,
are there other voice Technologies other platforms that you would use instead and for what use cases?
So JP had mentioned SoundHound for use in the car, you know looking at things like restaurants and navigation.
I think that this one is working nice.
I was talking about Snips before it was acquired being used in home electronic devices like coffee machines
and things like that.
So what other examples Do you have of other Technologies outside of the big commercial Technologies and what are the use cases?
What are they being used for? Let us know?
Voice search is happening. And Google is under threat. Not short term threat but long term threat.
There’s a new search provider in town and it’s name is Alexa. read more
If you’re looking to create voice applications for Alexa and Google Assistant, check out this run through of VUX design best practice from across the globe.
These insights were taken from over two years and one hundred podcast recordings with voice AI and conversational AI industry thought leaders and experts, as well as two year’s worth of designing and developing voice applications ourselves.
- Why VUX design is similar to service design
- Stage theory and the component parts of VUX design
- Conversational design definition and mental model
- Dialogue design techniques and how to build trust with dialogue
- Sonic branding and sound design
- Persona design and psychology
Whether you’re just starting out trying to build your first Alexa skill or Google action, or whether you’re a seasoned pro VUI designer, there’ll be insights in here that you can take into your work.
This workshop was recorded live at Project Voice, Chattanooga, Tennessee in January 2020.
Amazon have released a preview of its Super Bowl advert and it was aired on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
DeGeneres? I think it’s DeGeneres. Is that how you pronounce it?
Anyway, Amy Stapleton, recent Alexa Champion, (congratulations Amy!) posted something on LinkedIn:
The first point is that Alexa is portrayed as a servant. A low stature servant that just does whatever you tell it to, and the second thing is that there’s no real mention of third-party experiences, third party skills. It’s all first party stuff. Setting timers, turning the lights on turn the heating down stuff like that.
On the first point, totally agree with Amy that it does position Alexa as like a servant, which I don’t agree with it because even though it’s called an assistant, really the assistant needs to be proactive, needs to be trusted.
It needs to be at least at the same kind of social status, even a little bit higher than the user because it needs to be the one that’s organised. The one that’s got things sorted.
If you’re going to trust it to bank on in the future and shop on, it needs to be more than a subservient servant, and the second thing is that it doesn’t really mention much third-party capability. It’s all very much first party stuff, and I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again.
I don’t know whether, I’m not totally convinced whether Amazon really at this stage cares too much about third-party functionality. I mean, if they’ve got 200 million smart speakers and each one of those smart speakers is being used every single day for setting timers, setting alarms, routines, lights, heating, is that so bad for them?
Obviously third-party experiences, applications, uses and services make the whole platform reach another level and a level that Amazon could never reach themselves because they just couldn’t scale that much development.
But from Amazon’s perspective right now. I think there’d be quite happy to keep selling smart speakers, keep selling Fire Sticks and keep everyone using the first party skills because it’s building habits. It’s building confidence and for Amazon, it’s still engagement.
“When will we see advertising on Alexa?”
If you’re thinking this, you’re missing the point. read more
Samsung has a twenty percent market share in smartphones. Obviously, we know that lots of people have Samsung smartphones. read more