Magazine article ADWEEK

What to Know before Building A Voice Skill: CHECK THESE EIGHT BOXES WHEN SETTING OUT TO PRODUCE AN EFFECTIVE CONVERSATIONAL ACTIVATION

Magazine article ADWEEK

What to Know before Building A Voice Skill: CHECK THESE EIGHT BOXES WHEN SETTING OUT TO PRODUCE AN EFFECTIVE CONVERSATIONAL ACTIVATION

Article excerpt

If you're a producer, designing a conversational experience for voice may Lead you into uncharted territory. While we can't fully protect you from a few sleepless nights of quality assurance testing, these eight pointers may help you get to where you need to go with this new and burgeoning marketing tool.

Start by identifying the consumer need your app will solve. Designing your voice experience strategy is all about understanding your users. Identify the need your app will solve for them. For the first iteration of your app, it's best to assume that things will be at least twice as challenging as you expect. Select a user need that's feasibly solvable in a one- or two-minute conversation. Articulate how solving those user needs will help you achieve your business objectives. This rationale will serve as your experience strategy and become the project's north star.

Consult experts and observe this need in the wild. You need to find out if there are existing solutions for the problem you are trying to solve. If there's an expert in helping people handle this need, say a mechanic or a psychologist, ask them how they do it. Go into the wild and listen carefully to conversations in order to learn how to recommend a cocktail, find a nice bar and listen to how the bartender imparts his or her mixologist magic. It's also really helpful to start with existing script material. Do you have call center scripts? Start there and build tactics with which your voice experience will help the consumer solve their problem.

Nail down the happy path. From launching the experience to signing off, the happy path is the series of steps your user will take if everything goes according to plan. Map out what happens when a user activates your app and provides an ideal, predetermined response at every prompt. The happy path should be committed to code immediately, using the computer-generated voice at hand. This step is important, because submitting updates to Google and/or Amazon early and often will save you headaches deeper in the process.

Read your script out loud. Just like a table reading for a movie, eliminate technology entirely and read your voice script out loud among the team. Hearing it read makes it easier to catch hiccups that would otherwise be hard to identify.

If you can, hire a voice actor. Though the tech is rapidly improving, it'll be years before a computer-generated voice feels truly natural. Deciding on intonation (like which word to emphasize in a sentence) requires computers to make assumptions based on context they don't have. Using a voice actor adds a more human touch to your app, but also ups the cost and complexity considerably. Consider how many minutes of dialogue will need to be recorded. If the app is going to change in a few weeks or months, wilt the talent be able to return and record? …

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